1 March 2013

A game of monopoly

Feb 28, 2013

Bharat Karnad

As a workaday politician, the average defence minister, his skills limited to spouting self-reliance in defence, is even more clueless

The military variant of that old saw about India being a rich country with poor people owing to god-awful governance is that there is no real dearth of monies allotted to defence but every reason to doubt these are always spent wisely, or even well.

The sustained downturn of the economy has compelled the finance ministry to warn the ministry of defence (MoD) of a budgetary cut of almost `10,000 crore in 2013-14. Finance minister P. Chidambaram’s forthright statement, that “if the (Budget) is cut for this year, it is cut; you cannot do anything about it,” was in the context of defence minister A.K. Antony demanding `45,000 crore in addition to the `1.93 lakh crore Budget in the last fiscal, and his more recent attempt to talk up the direness of the threat from China, besides Pakistan, now militarily ensconced in nearby Gwadar. The fact that this is unlikely to impress the North Block into loosening the purse strings notwithstanding, the three armed services will push their separate expenditure priorities.

The Air Force will emphasise, in the main, the acquisition of Rafale for its MMRCA (medium-range, multi-role combat aircraft) programme, four squadrons of the “super” Su-30 for the China front, airborne warning and control systems and tankers, roughly in that order. The Army will push for a mountain strike corps, a combat helicopter fleet to fill its newly formed aviation arm and 155-mm artillery; and the Navy will want the ongoing warship induction schedule to be on track and the import of yet another conventional submarine. This is where things get appalling. The limited resources will ensure the three services remain dissatisfied. But how is inter se prioritisation achieved with the Indian government lacking a mechanism for it? 
 
In the absence of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who, keeping in mind the security threats and challenges, would rank-order the individual service expenditure programmes in a scheme of genuinely integrated procurements, the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) is the only available forum for this task. Ideally, the COSC is where the competing demands and requirements would be professionally debated and discussed threadbare with the three service chiefs at the end of this arduous process agreeing amicably on a single tri-service list of acquisition priorities in descending level of importance. In practice, however, every member of the COSC insists on his service’s needs requiring immediate sanction which, if conceded, would leave the fighting abilities of the other two services in the ditch.

A few breakthroughs

Mar 01, 2013


Roopen Roy

‘Government has initiated an ambitious IT driven project to modernise the postal network... Post Offices will become part of the core banking solutions and offer real-time banking services’

The biggest revelation in this Budget of 2013: only 42,800 people in a country of 1.2 billion have a taxable income of over Rs. 1 crore! Listen to the Union finance minister in his own words, “There are 42,800 persons — let me repeat, only 42,800 persons — who admitted to a taxable income exceeding Rs. 1 crore per year.” Excuse me? That’s all?

Have you seen the burgeoning list of dollar billionaires in India? Forbes’ October 2012 list of Indian billionaires is based on an annual assessment of wealth and assets. The combined net worth of the 2012 class of the 100 richest Indian’s is $250 billion, up from $241 billion a year ago. India currently has 61 billionaires.

As a consummate lawyer, the honourable finance minister has made a convincing case that he is putting an additional tax burden on a tiny fraction of the population. But the real question is: Why is the top of the taxpayer pyramid as narrow as the eye of a needle? Maybe someone will file an RTI petition to find out the names on the list with the objective of finding out which obvious names are missing.

I wish to comment on a few aspects of the Budget that will not be commonplace in drawing-room and TV conversations. Although it is not directly within his powers to influence and manage, the finance minister has announced a few initiatives. If you join the dots it is likely to provide a boost to the new-age knowledge industry. First, he has provided incentives to the “semiconductor wafer fab manufacturing facilities” and allowed a zero customs duty import of equipment for these fabrication plants. It is well known that India has produced some of the best chip design scientists in the world, but India is a midget when it comes to the manufacturing facilities. It is like having the best architects in the world but no construction industry! Second, he has encouraged angel investors to come in. In his words, “Angel investors bring both experience and capital to new ventures. Sebi will prescribe requirements for angel investor pools by which they can be recognised as Category I AIF venture capital funds.” Indian IT industry is on the verge of breaking out of the pure hourly rate based cost arbitrage model of services and looking at non-linear models and product development options. Angel investors are perfectly suited for start-up ventures. Third, all funds provided to technology incubators will qualify for CSR spend. All three taken together constitute good news for technology companies, particularly new start-ups.

Maldives mess hasn’t ended


Delhi’s diplomacy remains on test
by Inder Malhotra

ON February 20, when the former president of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, left on his own volition the Indian High Commission in Male, where he had sought shelter a week earlier, there was an audible sigh of relief in New Delhi. This was understandable — if only because this country had extricated itself from a very tight spot it had landed itself in — it is not at all enough. For the basic disharmony and deep distrust between the pre-eminent power of the South Asian region and the present regime in its tiniest country persist. It is impossible to overstate this country's stakes in the combination of a huge number of islands, scattered over a vast area of the Arabian Sea. Indeed, for India's maritime security right up to the Straits of Malacca via the Indian offshore chain of Andaman Islands the Maldives is vital. The gravity of the challenge to Indian diplomacy is, therefore, obvious.

Based on news reports, there is widespread belief that the crisis over Mr Nasheed's presence in the Indian compound was ended through a "deal" arrived at behind the scene. But can this be taken for sure? For, the strident spokesman of President Waheed has emphatically denied a deal of any kind. More significantly, Mr Waheed himself refused to see the leader of the Indian special delegation sent there to resolve the impasse.

As it happened, the day before the problem was resolved the United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, who is concurrently accredited to the Maldives, Ms Michele J. Sison, was in Male. Mr Waheed received her cordially, of course, and reportedly assured her that his main objective was "stability and calm" in his country. Some observers are arguing, therefore, that strong American advice eventually persuaded the regime in Male to reassure India that Mr Nasheed would be allowed to participate in the elections due in September. India's insistence that the coming poll in September should be fair as well as inclusive is entirely unexceptionable. If, as claimed, the Waheed government has agreed that Mr Nasheed would not be debarred from the elections by being arrested and convicted by a kangroo court, this must be welcomed.

On the other hand, almost all Indian correspondents who were rushed to Male for the occasion have reported that because of the impression that Mr Nasheed is "India's man", he has lost a lot of public support except among the ardent followers of his party. In any case, where is the guarantee that this assurance would be adhered to? A week is said to be a long time in politics. The six-week interval between now and the Maldives election is, therefore, something akin to eternity. And hasn't the Waheed regime gone back on its promises in the recent past?

Four factors governing the sad deterioration in India-Maldives relations merit attention. The first is that the plummeting of the relationship has taken place in just one year since February 2012. Until then relations between two countries had been flourishing constructively and smoothly. In fact, the Maldivians became grateful to India when, in 1988, the Indian military saved the regime of the then dictator, Abdul Ghayoom, from a foreign-encouraged mercenary coup. Mr Ghayoom's rule continued for three decades thereafter. In 2008, in the Maldives' first democratic election, Mr Nasheed, a young human rights activist, came to power. He endeared himself to India, and other countries, because of his dedication to the democratic cause.

Sound and solid, but far from scintillating

Author: G Parthasarathy

India’s relations with the United States of America is robust, but it can reach the next level only if we accelerate our economic growth and enhance defence potential. We also have to revisit our AfPak and Look East policies

One of the key policy initiatives during US President Barack Obama’s first term was what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described in her article published in October 2011 titled as ‘America’s Pacific Century’ as a “pivot”, to what she described as the “Indo-Pacific” region, straddling the Asia-Pacific and the shores of the Western Indian Ocean. This meant that the primary focus of American policies, diplomatically and militarily, would shift to the Pacific Ocean, from its Atlantic shores. It was manifested by American participation in the East Asia Summit and a determination not to be excluded from the emerging economic, diplomatic and security architecture in the ‘Indo-Pacific’. But, American uncertainty remains, on how to deal with an ‘assertive’ and growingly powerful China, which is not averse to using force to enforcing territorial claims on neighbours ranging from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

Within days of the commencement of the Obama Administr- ation’s second term, an ebullient Vice President Joe Biden returned from the Munich Security Conference. He turned the entire Asia-Pacific ‘pivot’ on its head by proclaiming: “President Obama and I continue to believe that Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world. It’s that basic. Nothing has changed. Europe remains America’s indispensable partner of first resort”.

This was an astonishing U-turn from the earlier emphasis on the 21st century being America’s ‘Pacific Century’ and its assertion that the global balance of power was shifting to Asia from Europe. President Obama confirmed US intention to launch talks for a ‘comprehensive trade and investment partnership’ with the European Union, in his State of the Union Address. This comes at a time when the US is confident that it will not only be self-sufficient, but a significant exporter of gas before the end of this decade — readying to market its gas surpluses across the Atlantic.

Afghan Peace Process Roadmap to 2015: Internal Security Nightmare for India?

Monish Gulati

A four page document titled the ‘Peace Process Roadmap to 2015’ seems to be scripting events and future developments in AfPak. Reportedly drafted by the Afghan President Karzai and his inner circle, the document’s western ‘tone and tenor’ has led some analyst to suspect a foreign linkage. The ‘roadmap to 2015’ on the letter head of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) and datelined Nov 2012 enumerates a five step process; each step with its objectives and superimposed on a timeline.

The plan was presented to Pakistan and the US during visits in Nov 2012 by the HPC Chairman Salauddin Rabbani. The roadmap 2015 is not without its grey areas, and opens itself to varying interpretations and implications.The Afghan peace process envisions that “by 2015, Taliban and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties…and participated in national elections.” And more significantly “NATO/ISAF forces will have departed from Afghanistan, leaving the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) as the only legitimate armed forces…” The roadmap, however, seeks to preserve Afghanistan as a parliamentary democracy, denying the militants the Islamic rule.

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

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

Balkanization of Afghanistan beckons


By Derek Henry Flood

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/SOU-02-200213.html

In his February 12 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama outlined the beginning of the end of American participation in Afghanistan's now decades long civil war. The US would endure a phased troop withdrawal meant to halve the presence of American soldiers within a year's time, reducing the present force of approximately 66,000 by 34,000.

The remainder are then theoretically going to make a rather hasty retreat between October 2014 and the start of 2015 with a possible residual force of several thousand soldiers staying on in a training and support capacity.

The precise number of troops, if there are to be any at all, will depend on the outcome of negotiations between Washington and Kabul. Obama did not provide any spoiler alerts in his annual speech most likely because timetables and logistics with America's Afghan counterparts simply have yet to be hammered out.

The message, however, was very clear: whether Afghanistan is ready or not, America's oversized military boot print in that country is already dissipating.

On February 10, a transfer of command took place in Kabul for the American-led NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops waging a years-long fraught counterinsurgency campaign.

Marine General Joseph Dunford took over from his predecessor General John Allen. Allen, still nominated for the top NATO post of Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), played a tangential part in a petty sex scandal that felled the career of now former CIA Director David Petraeus last fall.

Though the Obama administration has yet to formally withdraw Allen's SACEUR nomination publicly, though Allen himself has opted out from the nomination process to avoid undue speculation regarding his role, however minimal, in the scandal that brought down his comrade Petraeus.

An ever quixotic President Karzai refused to dignify the locked down handover ceremony with his presence despite a recent pledge to continue efforts to wind down the war by negotiating a vaguely outlined peace accord with the Afghan Taliban. The Presidential Palace dispatched the Afghan defense minister and national security chief in lieu of his eminence.

During General Dunford's first full day on duty, the United States military began experimentally shipping a small quantity of voluminous metal containers stocked with war materiel through the contentious border gate at Torkham, signaling that the United States was beginning its drawdown under the stewardship of a man who Washington somewhat optimistically states will be its last major theater commander in Kabul.

The equipment will eventually make the long trek to Karachi's port facilities on the Arabian Sea from where it can be shipped onward to return to American military supply depots.

Though Afghanistan borders a total of six countries, in the eyes of the major Western players in the Afghan war, Pakistan is the sole meaningful border state. Sharing the 2,640-kilometer-long Durand Line (the de facto border), with its deep ties to the Taliban, Pakistan is deemed the state whose cooperation and influence is indispensable to ease the much-desired exit of virtually all NATO troops by the end of 2014.

Tibetan self-immolation hard to stifle

By RFE Reporters
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/CHIN-02-190213.html

A Tibetan man set himself on fire in China’s Gansu province Sunday in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet, bringing the total number of Tibetan self-immolations to 102, sources said.

Namlha Tsering, 49, also known as Hoba, carried out his protest in the middle of a busy street in the seat of Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a source inside Tibet told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Today, February 17, a Tibetan named Namlha Tsering self-immolated in the downtown area of Sangchu county in protest against Chinese policy in Tibet,” said the source, who spoke on
condition of anonymity.

“He was a resident of Gengya township, an affiliate township of the Labrang monastery in Kanlho prefecture in Gansu.”

The burning marked the second in Sangchu county in days.

On Wednesday, Drukpa Khar, 26, died after dousing himself in gasoline and setting himself alight in Achok town in Sangchu.

Photos sent to RFA by a source from the area showed Namlha Tsering’s body engulfed in flames as he sat cross-legged in a roadway with cars passing by him.

Later photos show Chinese security personnel surrounding the area where his body had lain, ashes clearly visible on the ground.

Namlha Tsering’s condition was unknown Sunday, but reports said that he was unlikely to have survived the ordeal and that he had been bundled away by Chinese authorities.

The London-based Free Tibet advocacy group said in a statement Sunday that eyewitnesses had described Namlha Tsering as being "severely burned" in the protest and said that he had been taken away by security forces who subsequently stated that he had died.

Free Tibet said that Namlha Tsering has a wife and four sons, the oldest of whom is a monk.

His protest comes on the fifth day of the traditional Tibetan Losar New Year, which has been marked this year by most Tibetans with prayers for compatriots who burned themselves to death during the year to challenge Chinese rule.

5 Ways to Build a Stable U.S.-China Strategic Relationship


By Lewis A. Dunn, Ralph Cossa, and Li Hong
March 1, 2013



The relationship between the United States and China, one country an established power, the other a rising power, will decisively shape the 21st century world. Of the many aspects of this relationship, one of the most important is the strategic relationship, with “strategic” meaning the many ways that the two countries’ plans, doctrines, capabilities, postures, and actions interact across the nuclear offensive and defensive, outer space, and cyber realms.

Building a stable and cooperative “win-win” strategic relationship serves the interests of both the United States and China. It would contribute to both countries’ security interests, not least by avoiding dangerous military competition, confrontation, or even conflict between our two countries in the years ahead. A cooperative strategic relationship would also provide a foundation for action to address global political, security, and economic challenges. It would allow scarce leadership attention, political capital, and economic resources in both countries to be used to address pressing domestic, economic, social, and other priorities.

The tough challenges that our countries’ leaders need to address in pursuing greater strategic cooperation are well known. They range from the long-standing political disagreements over Taiwan to mutual uncertainties about each other’s military intentions, plans, programs, and activities – both at the strategic level and in Asia. But there are also important foundations for building greater cooperation, including the economic interdependence between the two countries and the recognition by both countries’ leaderships of the importance of this relationship.

The challenge from China

Published: February 28

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first foreign trip is an impressive swing through nine countries in Europe and the Middle East.

But I wonder if he should instead have visited just two countries, China and Japan. That’s where the most significant and dangerous new developments in international relations are unfolding. The world’s second- and third-largest economies have been jostling for months over territory, reviving ugly historical memories and making clear that, in the event of a crisis, neither side will back down. Trade between the two countries — which usually hovers around $350 billion a year — is down substantially. An accident, miscalculation or unforeseen event could easily spiral out of control.

All this is happening in the context of a China that is changing, internally and externally, one that lacks a deep and strategic relationship with the United States. In fact, the lack of progress in relations with China stands as the largest vacuum in President Obama’s generally successful foreign policy.

This has not been for lack of effort. The Obama administration came into office determined to make Asia a priority, topped by its ties to China. Hillary Clinton’s first trip as secretary of state was to Asia, and she signaled that discussions with China would focus on large strategic issues and not get bogged down over human rights. The administration wanted to engage China as a partner of sorts. Zbigniew Brzezinski, known to be close to President Obama, speculated about the need for “G-2” — an ongoing dialogue between Washington and Beijing on the big challenges facing the world.

China’s reaction to these overtures was confused and muddled. Beijing worried that it was being asked to involve itself in superpower diplomacy, which would distract it from its single-minded focus on economic development. China wanted to protect its right to be considered a developing country so that, for example, it could continue to industrialize without too much regard for climate change. Some in the Beijing foreign-policy elite wondered if this was a trap, forcing their government to rubber-stamp decisions that would be shaped and directed out of Washington. Others saw the Obama administration’s overtures as a sign of China’s growing strength, convincing them that the best path for Beijing was to keep building up economic strength and bide its time.

As a result, Beijing’s response to the administration’s initial diplomacy was cool. At the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, it was even dismissive and combative, actively trying to oppose U.S. efforts to reach a consensus.

Gwadar Port pain awaits China

By Syed Fazl-e-Haider

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/SOU-01-190213.html

KARACHI - Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has formally handed over the country's prized port at Gwadar to China. Simultaneously, China becomes the builder, financer and operator of the Arabian Sea port near the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than half of the oil imports for the the second-largest economy after the United States now pass.

State-run China Overseas Port Holdings Limited will purchase all the shares in Gwadar Port from the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) and its local partners under a deal approved by Pakistani government on January 30. PSA sold 60% of shares in the the port, while Aqeel Kareem Dedhi (AKD) Group and the National Logistic Cell (NCL) controlled by the Pakistani army sold their 20% stakes.

"Handing over of the operation of Gwadar Port to China is manifestation of our growing ties and also shows the trust Pakistan has in the Chinese ability to deliver on our infrastructure projects," Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported Zardari as saying. "We are seeking to expand our existing areas of cooperation and exploring new avenues for fruitful collaboration."

Gwadar Port, located in the southwest province of Balochistan, is of immense strategic importance for China, which imports nearly 60% of its crude oil from the Gulf countries, a proportion that is likely to increase in the next decade. China contributed 75% of the initial US$250 million development cost of Gwadar and is taking over from PSA after the Singapore-based port operator's decision to pull out of the Pakistan port.

China is taking over the building of infrastructure that the Pakistan has not yet completed, with the port lacking crucial road and rail connectivity in Pakistan and north to Central Asia's booming economies and overland to China.

"Beijing has agreed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to finish a 900-kilometer (550-mile) road that would link the port with Pakistan's north-south Indus Highway, facilitating overland transport from Gwadar to China," a senior Pakistani official was quoted by Associated Press as saying. Pakistan was supposed to complete the road last year but has only completed 60% of the work.

Operation of Gwadar port was formally awarded to China at a ceremony in Islamabad on Monday in the presence of President Zardari and China's Ambassador to Pakistan. Liu Jian and senior government officials. The contract was given to China after PSA last year quit a 40-year management and development contract signed in 2007 after the country failed to transfer 584 acres of land in possession of Pakistan Navy for development of free zone.

HYDRO HEGEMONY IS CHINA’S NEW GAMEPLAN

 Major-Gen GG Dwivedi (retd)
 
Chinese dams in Tibet have serious strategic and socio-economic implications for India. The issue needs to be addressed holistically and India should insist on transparency and raise its concerns forcefully

 
THE Chinese intention to build a series of dams over the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo) in Tibet is a matter of concern for India, and has rightly drawn reactions from various quarters. At Zangmu, a 510 MW dam is already under construction and due for completion by 2014. According to recent reports, three more dams have been approved for construction. Two of these dams, Dagu (640 MW) and Jiexu (capacity unconfirmed) are 18 km and 11 km upstream of Zangmu, respectively. The third one at Jiacha (320 MW), is downstream. These projects are likely to be completed by 2015.

Earlier, the Chinese had persistently denied undertaking any dam construction activity on the Brahmaputra. It was only in April 2010 that Yang Jiechi, Chinese Foreign Minister, officially acknowledged the construction of Zangmu dam. Beijing gave an assurance that being a “run of the river” project, it will not adversely impact the flow downstream. In 2005, there was the Pareechu episode, which had resulted in flash floods in the Sutlej, causing extensive damage. The Chinese had refused an Indian proposal for a joint inspection. In view of Beijing's system of closed-door functioning, lack of transparency and the prevailing state of trust deficit between the two neighbours, the issue merits a pragmatic review. Possible implications for India need detailed examination both from the scientific and strategic dimensions, should the Chinese go ahead with their ambitious plans.

Three Gorges Dam in China. China is the world's biggest consumer of energy and plans to double its installed capacity of 213,000 MW to 430,000 MW in a decade

“We do not need to be told. We do not need to be taught”: Sri Lanka at the 22nd UNHRC, Geneva

Thiruni Kelegama

March 1, 2013

Almost four years since the end of the war, the situation in Sri Lanka is far from a just peace. With the commencing of the 22nd United Human Rights Council Sessions in Geneva this week, Sri Lanka has indeed much to be worried about.

March 22, 2012, saw the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) finally having to give way to international pressure as the UNHRC passed a US-led resolution titled “Promoting Accountability and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka”.1 This resolution, which was passed with a majority of 24 votes, highlighted 9 major areas of reform, called upon the GoSL to fulfil its legal obligations towards justice and accountability and to provide a “comprehensive action plan” to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) – the commission of inquiry that GOSL set up to investigate the events between the February 2002 ceasefire with the LTTE and the end of the conflict in May 2009.

The GoSL’s response to the provision of establishing a comprehensive action plan was to put together a National Action Plan (NAP) that set out to implement the recommendations made by the LLRC. This NAP is far from adequate and though it attempts to implement the HRC’s March 2012 Resolution, it sets out unreasonable timelines and is selective in the choice of recommendations it chooses to implement. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her February 2013 report to the Council reaffirms this when she states: “To date, the government has made commitments on only selected recommendations of the Commission, and has not adequately engaged civil society in support of a more consultative and inclusive reconciliation process.”2 She adds that despite the resettlement of over 400,000 displaced by the war and large scale projects, “considerable work lies ahead in the areas of justice, reconciliation and resumption of livelihoods.”3

In March 2013, Sri Lanka is due to come up for discussion again before the Council. This time, the Council will have before it two official documents: the UN High Commissioner’s devastating report and the Universal Periodic Report from November 2012. This will add to the equally incriminatory Darusman Report4 (also known as Report of the Secretary General Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka) and the Report of the United Nations Internal Review Panel.5 With Sri Lanka no longer being a member of the Council and having no voting power, it will have to confront a powerful block of countries with the United States still a voting member in the lead and Poland presiding.

It is against this backdrop that the second US-led resolution is going to be introduced. Draft copies of the resolution that have been circulating reveal calls upon the GoSL to report on its efforts to investigate war crimes and on relations with Tamils in the country. It also calls on the GoSL to “credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings” and to “[provide] unfettered access...[to] Special Rapporteurs on independence of judges and lawyers; torture; human rights defenders”. It also refers to the failure of the GoSL to fulfil its public commitments, including on devolution of political authority to provinces.6 The resolution also refers to the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake which, according to Navi Pillay, “...runs contrary to achieving accountability and reconciliation”.7

Sequester and the Defense Budget: What does this mean for the U.S. Army?


by TRADOCIAN on 21 February 2013

Editor’s note: ‘TRADOCIAN’ is a cog inside the U.S. defense machine. His opinions are, obviously, his own and do not represent the positions of any other individual or institution.

Sequester is and has been the hot defense topic here in the United States. A Google search for “looming sequester” comes back with tens of thousands of results. Everyone is talking about it, but without much focus on its practical effects on the U.S. military. In this post, I will address how the U.S. Army has been affected by the toxic brew of incompetence and parochialism that the U.S. Congress is forcing them to imbibe.

First off, what is all this?

In 2011, Congressional Republicans, upset over the rising deficit, refused to raise the debt ceiling without matching commitments to cut government spending. President Obama declined to cut funding for key social programs. Both sides eventually agreed to raise the debt ceiling if a bipartisan group of Senators and Members of Congress – the ‘super committee’ – could agree on $1.2 trillion in cuts. Severe automatic sequestration cuts were to be enacted if the ‘super committee’ failed to agree. And fail they did.

These cuts (originally planned to come into place on Jan. 1st without a debt deal, but postponed until March 1st) would constitute 10% across the board reductions, with half of the cuts targeting the defense budget ($492 billion over ten years) and other cuts targeting social programs, education, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Basically, neither side of the political spectrum wins. But it did not galvanize Congress into action. In part, this is because of the dysfunction that defines this Congress. Also, overseas contingency operations, social security, veteran benefits, and Medicaid are exempt. The DoD personnel account is also exempt, but this only means that the impact on modernization, readiness, science and technology, and everything else will be even more significant. Hence, we see talk about the danger of a ‘hollow force.’

Most observers agree that these indiscriminate cuts would have severe consequences for the U.S. economy and military preparedness, as it would require the military make painful cuts to core defense priorities.

Four Reasons Not to Pivot to Europe

By James R. Holmes
February 25, 2013


You get the sense frustration has been mounting in Europe-first precincts. Teeth are gnashed and garments rended in direct proportion to the policy energy Asia consumes in Washington. In particular, the Obama administration's pivot to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean has occasioned no end of fretful commentary.

Consequently, the news that the United States and the European Union will commence negotiating a transatlantic free-trade zone gave vent to rapturous commentary. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who oversaw the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Staff from 2009-2011, hailed "The Coming Atlantic Century," appropriating the title of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2011 Foreign Policy essay announcing the Asia pivot. Writing in The New Republic, Brookings Institution scholar William Galston greeted "Obama's Pivot to Europe" while urging readers to "forget China." And so forth. Catharsis is good! Yet the euphoria is largely misplaced.

There are four problems with a putative Europe pivot:



The pivot is a geographic misnomer. A fallacy about the Asia pivot started making the rounds almost as soon as Secretary Clinton unveiled it, namely that pivoting to Asia means America is turning its back on Europe. Not so. On a standard Mercator map, it does appear that the pivot means executing a 180-degree turnabout from facing eastward toward Europe to facing westward toward Asia. But Atlantic-based U.S. Navy forces steam to the western Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf through the Mediterranean and Red seas, scudding along the southern European periphery along the way. Pivoting to Asia may mean looking past Europe rather than squarely at the continent; it doesn't mean doing an about-face.

Neo-Imperialism and the Arrogance of Ignorance

Feb. 27, 2013
Africom photo / Staff Sergeant Robert L. Fisher III

A Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit takes part in a war game while training in the coastal mountains of Djibouti last fall.

Most Americans do not realize the extent to which the U.S. is becoming involved militarily in the welter of conflicts throughout Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa (check out the chaos here).

Although recent reports have tended to focus on the French intervention to kick Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) out in Mali — a effort that may now be devolving into a far more complex guerrilla war, that French operation is just one operation in what may be shaping up to be a 21st Century version of the 19th Century Scramble for the resources of Africa. It’s a policy that, from the U.S. point of view, is not unrelated to the pivot to China, given China‘s growing market and aid presence in Africa.

Last year, Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post provided a mosaic of glimpses into the widespread U.S. involvement in Africa in a series of excellent reports, including here, here and here. The map below is my rendering of the basing information in Whitlock’s report (and others), as well as the relationship between that basing information to distribution of Muslim populations in central Africa.

Pew Research Center & Spinney

While the correlation between Muslim populations and our intervention activities will suggest different messages to different audiences, given our recent history, it is certain to further inflame our relationship with militant Islam.

The Coming Atlantic Century



21 February 2013
Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning in the US State Department (2009-2011) and a former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is the author of The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World.

PRINCETON – The United States is rising; Europe is stabilizing; and both are moving closer together. That was the principal message earlier this month at the annual Munich Security Conference (MSC), a high-powered gathering of defense ministers, foreign ministers, senior military officials, parliamentarians, journalists, and national-security experts of every variety.

The participants come primarily from Europe and the US; indeed, when the conference began in 1963, it was focused entirely on NATO members. This year, however, senior government officials from Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Singapore, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia also joined, an important sign of the times.

John McCain, the US senator and 2008 presidential candidate, always leads a large congressional delegation to Munich. The US administration also typically sends the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of State to deliver a ritual speech reassuring the Europeans of the strength of the transatlantic alliance. This year, Vice President Joe Biden did the honors, bumping the US representation up a notch.

The conference also featured a panel on an unusual subject – “The American Oil and Gas Bonanza: The Changing Geopolitics of Energy.” US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual described “the US internal energy revolution”: a 25% increase in natural-gas production, which should push down US gas prices, and enough oil output to reduce oil imports from 60% to 40% of consumption, with an additional 10% increase projected.

Pascual projected that the US will be able to import all of its energy needs from within the Americas by 2030. A recent confidential study by the German Intelligence Agency raises the possibility that the US could actually become an oil and gas exporter by 2020, in contrast to its present position as the world’s largest energy importer. That honor would likely fall to China, which would become increasingly dependent on the Middle East. As an extra bonus, the higher US proportion of gas use has reduced US carbon emissions to 1992 levels.

The Drone War Doctrine We Still Don't Know About

By Cora Currier & Justin Elliott

The nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director has prompted intense debate on Capitol Hill and in the media about U.S. drone killings abroad. But the focus has been on the targeting of American citizens – a narrow issue that accounts for a miniscule proportion of the hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen in recent years.

Consider: while four American citizens are known to have been killed by drones in the past decade, the strikes have killed an estimatedtotal of 2,600 to 4,700 people over the same period.

The focus on American citizens overshadows a far more common, and less understood, type of strike: those that do not target American citizens, Al Qaeda leaders, or, in fact, any other specific individual.

In these attacks, known as "signature strikes," drone operators fire on people whose identities they do not know based on evidence of suspicious behavior or other "signatures." According to anonymously sourced media reports, such attacks on unidentified targets account for many, or evenmost, drone strikes.

Despite that, the administration has never publicly spoken about signature strikes. Basic questions remain unanswered.

What is the legal justification for signature strikes? What qualifies as a "signature" that would prompt a deadly strike? Do those being targeted have to pose a threat to the United States? And how many civilians have been killed in such strikes?

The administration has rebuffed repeated requests from Congress to provide answers – even in secret.

The McChrystal Way of War

Gary Hart|
March 1, 2013


UNLIKE TOLSTOY’S families, uninteresting books are uninteresting in their own way; interesting books all operate on several levels. Retired U.S. Army general Stanley McChrystal’s My Share of the Task operates on three levels: first, the level of military memoir; second, as a detailed, even intimate, inside perspective on the concurrent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and third, and perhaps most important historically, as an account of the U.S. military’s transition from traditional wars between nation-states to the unconventional and irregular insurgency warfare of the early twenty-first century.

More than one of the endorsers whose words appear on the book’s back cover compare My Share of the Task favorably to Ulysses Grant’s historic memoir. And, at least on the third level of this book, they are right in doing so. This is a scrupulous, though unvarnished, account of a military life as an heir to an army family, a West Point graduate in June 1976, and ultimately as a four-star general officer in command of the NATO-sponsored International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan beginning in June 2009. McChrystal’s impressive career spanned one of the most complex periods of U.S. military history and operates, intentionally or not, as a guide through that history. As he says in the book’s foreword: “The Army I knew as a child, the one I experienced as a young officer, and the one I left in 2010 were as different as the times they resided in.”

Because McChrystal either maintained a detailed diary or made countless calls to colleagues and friends for dates, times and places, his narrative is nailed down with specifics. Shifting bases as he rises through the command structure, McChrystal’s book meticulously informs the reader as to where he is (where more often than not his long-suffering wife, Annie, is not) and who his colleagues in arms are in each venue. He assumes blame when things inevitably go wrong but is quick to share credit, almost to a fault, with those in a colleague or staff capacity.

Like Tennyson’s Ulysses, McChrystal remembers “my mariners, souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me,” and possesses a kind word and generous remark for all who served with him along the way.

It would be a great surprise if this book does not become required reading at U.S. (and perhaps other) military academies and even more so in the network of command and staff colleges for rising officers. There is much to be learned here about strategy, tactics and doctrine, as well as the necessity for their adaptability in often rapidly changing circumstances. This is especially true as our military has been transitioning into an era marked by increased integration of services and commands and the rise of special operations. As proof, one need look no further than the relatively recent creation of the U.S. Special Operations Command, one of our most important joint combat commands.

The hallmarks of a soldier’s life, the first layer of this memoir, are duty, discipline and ambition. McChrystal’s father was a Vietnam veteran, a captain when the son was born, who would rise to become a major general. That McChrystal would attend and graduate from West Point was virtually assumed. The memoir’s early chapters trace his path through the staff assignments at various army bases to his inevitable progress up the command structure from company to brigade to battalion and eventually to leadership in newly formed multiservice special-operations combat units such as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Various academic detours to command and staff colleges and even a stint at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York broadened his horizons. Along the way he encountered and traced parallel career courses with other ambitious, fast-rising officers such as David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno.

Chinese Cyber Attacks: Robust Response Needed

By Dean Cheng
February 23, 2013
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/02/chinese-cyber-attacks-robust-response-needed

More After a multi-year investigation, the computer security firm Mandiant announced this week that it had tracked a cyber group back to its Chinese roots.[1] Even more explosive, it had concluded that the group is, in fact, a Chinese military unit, the Second Bureau of the Third Department of the General Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with the Military Unit Cover Designator 61398. Mandiant’s report confirms what has long been suspected around the world: Not only are there Chinese engaging in various cyber espionage and hacking activities, but many are acting at the direction and with the approval of the Chinese government.

Chinese Military Organized Differently

The PLA is organized along different lines than other militaries. Although the PLA has different services (including the PLA Navy, PLA Air Force, and the Second Artillery), it is mainly organized under four “General Departments,” which have responsibility across service lines:

1.The General Staff Department (GSD) is responsible for military planning, intelligence, and operational implementation;

2.The General Political Department is responsible for political oversight, morale, propaganda, and military law enforcement (e.g., judge advocate general activities);

3.The General Logistics Department ensures the smooth flow of spare parts, food, ammunitions, etc.; and

4.The General Armaments Department is responsible for weapons development, mans the various Chinese space facilities, and oversees the nuclear test sites.

Because of this different organizational approach, the PLA has likely concentrated its cyber assets into a handful of units and organizations, rather than the more dispersed, service-centric approach of the United States, which runs the risk of greater duplication of effort.

The TED Prize-Winning Idea: A School in the Cloud

Feb. 27, 2013

James Duncan Davidson

2013 TED Prize Winner Sugata Mitra speaks at Long Beach, CA, Feb. 26, 2013.
When TED first started awarding an annual cash prize back in 2005, the winner was the world-famous singer turned activist Bono. His award was $300,000 which went to benefit his nascent ONE organization in its fight to eradicate poverty. (TED was also instrumental in helping him get the url ONE.org, which had already been taken by someone else.)

$300,000 was probably a drop in Bono’s bucket. But this year, the winner of the TED prize will be getting $1 million. And he will likely be able to do quite a lot with it. He is a professor and educator named Sugata Mitra, famous for having put a computer in a hole in a wall in a slum in India and discovering that, left alone, children can teach themselves an amazing amount, starting with technical literacy. “In nine months a child left alone with a computer would reach the same standard as an office professional in the West,” he said in his TED talk last night after accepting the prize.

(MORE: The Resource Miracle by Bono)

Mitra, now a professor at Newcastle University, became a proponent of what he coined Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) which capitalize on children’s innate curiosity and ability to learn a variety of subjects in a group setting from a computer. He doesn’t dispense with adults altogether though. He has experimented with many types of SOLEs and plans to use the TED prize to build a so-called School in the Cloud overseen by a global network of retired teachers who Skype into “classrooms” all over the world but especially in the most remote and underserved areas. “The role of the mediator is to ask the right questions and listen to the children bragging about what they did,” Mitra says. (He calls this the “Granny” method of teaching, as opposed to the more authoritarian model of direct instruction and testing. His approach is similar in philosophy to other “child-driven” methods such as the one espoused by Maria Montessori.)

Mitra has also created a toolkit for bringing self-organized learning environments into your own community, downloadable here. “The model is you have eight children and one computer. Not one computer per child,” he says. And although he seems to advocate a very hands-off approach to teaching, he did say that his method would be supplemental to traditional schooling, not a replacement. ”There are going to be 10 different ways to teach the next generation. I have touched the tip of the iceberg of one.”

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/02/27/the-ted-prize-winning-idea-a-school-in-the-cloud/#ixzz2MFxRChXd

Is Germany’s Muzzled Military Moving into a New Era?

Feb. 27, 2013Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Members of the Bundeswehr, or the German military, run toward two Patriot missile launching systems at the Luftwaffe Warbelow training center in Warbelow, Germany, on on Dec. 18, 2012

On March 1, the German Parliament will debate sending 80 soldiers to Mali to provide medical care and help French soldiers train Malian government troops to clear mines and build bridges. That may not seem like a big task for the world’s fourth largest economy, but it represents a significant change for a country that has spent the past 68 years trying to live down its martial past. The mooted deployment looks likely to be waved through by the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament, though not without controversy.

Germany’s politicians are then expected to discuss a proposal, made earlier this month by German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière, to work with France to develop a European killer drone. On Jan. 31, Parliament overwhelmingly voted to extend Germany’s decadelong Afghanistan mission by 13 months, a commitment that surpasses Germany’s swashbuckling French neighbor, which ended its Afghan mission in November.

For people who fear a resurgence of German military might — and Germans themselves may top that list — the German constitution provided reassurance. In 1956, the Allies allowed West Germany to establish a military but troops stayed at home unless the German public could be convinced to back neutral peacekeeping or humanitarian missions.

These days, with nearly 6,000 troops deployed outside its borders, Germany has the second largest such commitment among Europeans after the U.K. That includes more than 4,260 personnel serving in the NATO-led coalition in northern Afghanistan, soon to be reduced to 3,500. In Kosovo, Germany’s 816 peacekeepers make up the largest national contingent. The rest patrol for pirates off the Horn of Africa, man Patriot antimissile batteries in Turkey — which Chancellor Angela Merkel toured on Feb. 24 — and perform peacekeeping and training missions in Lebanon, the two Sudans, Uganda and Congo.

(MORE: What Does the Future Hold for the Sudans: An Assessment by America’s Envoy)

The scale of these deployments attracts some criticism in foreign capitals, not for being too big but for being small in proportion to Germany’s economic muscle. Officials in the U.K. especially, as well as in France and the U.S., bemoan Germany’s cautiousness, both in joining missions and its strict rules of engagement when the Bundeswehr, or the Federal Defense, does deploy. Though German per capita defense spending increased from $461 in 2007 to $500 in ’11, the country spent between 1.3% to 1.4% per annum of its gross domestic product during the decade ending in ’11, according to an annual NATO survey. That percentage was lower than Britain, France or even Greece. Unlike other Westerners, who generally see their military as a vital component of government, Germans have tended to view theirs as a necessary evil.

Inequality and Development

Paper No. 5411 Dated 28-Feb-2013

By Kazi Anwarul Masud

Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs suggests that because of the effects of climate change the developing countries should not follow the same path the developed countries had taken to reach the level of prosperity they now enjoy.

If the developing countries do emulate then the world economy will push the planet beyond safe operating conditions. As an example Sachs writes: “Today, there are seven billion people on the planet, and each one, on average, is responsible for the release each year of a bit more than four tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This CO2 is emitted when we burn coal, oil, and gas to produce electricity, drive our cars, or heat our homes. All told, humans emit roughly 30 billion tons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere, enough to change the climate sharply within a few decades.

By 2050, there will most likely be more than nine billion people. If these people are richer than people today (and therefore using more energy per person), total emissions worldwide could double or even triple. This is the great dilemma: we need to emit less CO2, but we are on a global path to emit much more”. Climate change is now globally accepted as clear and present danger and not science fiction.

Jeffrey Sachs recommends sustainable development that will focus on elimination of extreme poverty, sharing of prosperity by all, and protecting natural environment. To do that adoption of technology and its smart use have been recommended. The question that remains to be answered is whether technological advancement would necessarily create employment as it has been seen that computers and automation may increase efficiency but also cuts jobs.

Joseph Stiglitz whose book The Price of Inequality has been widely read and discussed spoke of his experience at the last Davos meeting. He wrote of a meeting on technology and unemployment: Can countries (particularly in the developed world) create new jobs – especially good jobs – in the face of modern technology that has replaced workers with robots and other machines in any task that can be routinized? Overall, the private sector in Europe and America has been unable to create many good jobs since the beginning of the current century. Even in China and other parts of the world with growing manufacturing sectors, productivity improvements – often related to job-killing automated processes – account for most of the growth in output. Those suffering the most are the young, whose life prospects will be badly hurt by the extended periods of unemployment that they face today.

Economic moorings of the defence budget

Amit Cowshish

February 27, 2013

There has been a lot of speculation in the media about the cut in defence budget for the current financial year and the allocation for the next year (2013-14). It is literally just a matter of hours before the mystery gets solved. On February 28, the country would get to know what the Finance Minister has in store for defence. There are no prizes for guessing that there would be a downward revision of allocation for the current year, most of which would be in the capital budget. The total capital expenditure at the end of January 2013 was INR 55,218.34 crore, which works out to 69.39 per cent of the total capital allocation of INR 79,578.63 crore, leaving a balance of INR 24,360.29 crore to be spent in the months of February and March. In so far as the capital acquisition segment of the capital budget is concerned, the expenditure at the end of January 2013 was INR 46,722.19 crore, which works out to 70.75 per cent of the total capital acquisition budget of INR 66,032.24 crore, leaving a balance of INR 19,310.05 crore to be spent before the close of the year. The question whether the balance amount would have got utilized or not is moot at this stage. It will not matter as long as the ministry is able to meet its committed liabilities and make the advance payment due before the end of the year against any new contracts that have been signed.

If the writing on the wall is quite clear in so far as the current year’s revised estimates are concerned, it is not all that hazy in respect of next year’s budget also. But it would be hazardous to make a guess, except in terms of what is unlikely to happen. The most obvious thing unlikely to happen is a whopping increase in the defence budget. The resources that can be raised when the economy is growing at the rate of 5 to 6 per cent cannot be the same as the resources the government was able to raise when the economy was growing at 9 to 10 per cent per annum. The defence budget cannot be insulated from the vicissitudes of the economy. Resource allocation is a zero-sum game and allocation of scarce resources is an unenviable task. This is the simplest explanation for the most unlikely exponential increase in the defence budget.

The anguished outbursts that follow the announcement of the budget every year are understandable to some extent. The anguish over the state of modernization of the armed forces, the slow march towards achieving the capability for simultaneous action on two-fronts and rather feeble power projection on a global scale are understandable. The part that is not understandable is the expectation that the outlays for achieving these objectives would increase exponentially, irrespective of the state of the economy. This is what was tried out in Pakistan under the rubric of the ‘security state’ with rather disastrous results. That is, however, not to suggest that expectations of higher defence outlays in India are premised on the concept of a ‘security state’ but to point out that there is a danger inherent in insulating the defence outlays from the state of the economy.

Misinterpretation and Confusion: What is Mission Command and Can the U.S. Army Make it Work?


by Donald E. Vandergriff (Land Warfare Paper 94, February 2013)

In this Land Warfare Paper, Donald Vandergriff elucidates that when Mission Command functions ideally, once subordinates understand the intentions of their commanders they are responsible for using their creativity and initiative to adapt to changing circumstances and accomplish their missions within the guidelines of those initial intentions. He questions the degree to which modern technology allows for too much oversight in mission execution and argues that unless the Army seriously examines its personnel system and the current force structure and implements necessary improvements, the vital principal of Mission Command will continue to be lost. With this necessity in mind, Vandergriff suggests the widespread use of Outcomes-Based Training and Education, as it provides a solution for how best to teach Mission Command in our 21st century world.

Project Warrior 2020: Developing the Army’s Future Leaders
By COL Charles Sexton
”Building the Army of 2020 requires the development of future leaders who are skilled in Mission Command.”

Regaining the Edge in Combined Arms Maneuver
COL Dean A. Nowowiejski, USA Ret.
After a decade of counterinsurgency, the Army faces an essential question: Will its leaders accurately anticipate the challenges to 2020 in its training?

Mission Command Applications ‘Ebb and Flow’ with Army’s Network
By Scott R. Gourley
In Mission Command, the emphasis shifts back and forth between new hardware developments to expand the network and the applications that will operate over that strengthened network.

Congressional Authority to Limit Military Operations, February 19, 2013

Nuclear Weapons R&D Organizations in Nine Nations, February 22, 2013

Bond v. United States: Validity and Construction of the Federal Chemical Weapons Statute, February 21, 2013

Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements, February 20, 2013

Border Security: Understanding Threats at U.S. Borders, February 21, 2013

NAFTA at 20: Overview and Trade Effects, February 21, 2013

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, February 22, 2013, with new material on the anticipated impact of sequestration.

Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests, February 22, 2013

U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: Significance, Prospects, and Policy Options, February 20, 2013

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations, February 26, 2013