3 April 2013

Beyond the Post-Cold War World

April 2, 2013

An era ended when the Soviet Union collapsed on Dec. 31, 1991. The confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union defined the Cold War period. The collapse of Europe framed that confrontation. After World War II, the Soviet and American armies occupied Europe. Both towered over the remnants of Europe's forces. The collapse of the European imperial system, the emergence of new states and a struggle between the Soviets and Americans for domination and influence also defined the confrontation. There were, of course, many other aspects and phases of the confrontation, but in the end, the Cold War was a struggle built on Europe's decline.

Many shifts in the international system accompanied the end of the Cold War. In fact, 1991 was an extraordinary and defining year. The Japanese economic miracle ended. China after Tiananmen Square inherited Japan's place as a rapidly growing, export-based economy, one defined by the continued pre-eminence of the Chinese Communist Party. The Maastricht Treaty was formulated, creating the structure of the subsequent European Union. A vast coalition dominated by the United States reversed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Three things defined the post-Cold War world. The first was U.S. power. The second was the rise of China as the center of global industrial growth based on low wages. The third was the re-emergence of Europe as a massive, integrated economic power. Meanwhile, Russia, the main remnant of the Soviet Union, reeled while Japan shifted to a dramatically different economic mode.

The post-Cold War world had two phases. The first lasted from Dec. 31, 1991, until Sept. 11, 2001. The second lasted from 9/11 until now.

The initial phase of the post-Cold War world was built on two assumptions. The first assumption was that the United States was the dominant political and military power but that such power was less significant than before, since economics was the new focus. The second phase still revolved around the three Great Powers -- the United States, China and Europe -- but involved a major shift in the worldview of the United States, which then assumed that pre-eminence included the power to reshape the Islamic world through military action while China and Europe single-mindedly focused on economic matters.

The Three Pillars of the International System

In this new era, Europe is reeling economically and is divided politically. The idea of Europe codified in Maastricht no longer defines Europe. Like the Japanese economic miracle before it, the Chinese economic miracle is drawing to a close and Beijing is beginning to examine its military options. The United States is withdrawing from Afghanistan and reconsidering the relationship between global pre-eminence and global omnipotence. Nothing is as it was in 1991.

Europe primarily defined itself as an economic power, with sovereignty largely retained by its members but shaped by the rule of the European Union. Europe tried to have it all: economic integration and individual states. But now this untenable idea has reached its end and Europe is fragmenting. One region, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, has low unemployment. The other region on the periphery has high or extraordinarily high unemployment.


Roomana Hukil
Research Officer, Internal and Regional Security Programme, IPCS 

China’s proposed strategic interests behind the building of the run-of-the-river dams along the middle reaches of River Brahmaputra, provides insignificant data over the nature of the project in the future course of time. As the Indian government rests on the Chinese assurance of the unalterable status quo, the Assamese government has raised serious doubts on the Chinese prospects over the watercourse. 

In this regard, it is time for an establishment such as that of the Brahmaputra River Valley Authority (BRVA) to undertake effective scientific investigation with respect to both the lean flows of the river and the consequences of the dam constructions by the Chinese over the river. This article delves into assessing the potential factors that are leading China into building the multiple dams. It questions China’s proposition vis-à-vis the mounting threats and assesses the establishment of a joint authoritative body to ensure the regulatory flow of the waters, in order to provide a timely scientific data of the cause and effects of the river.

Potential Factors for China's Propaganda

The Brahmaputra River in China (known as Yarlung Tsangpo) has been of significant strategic interest for the Chinese since the 19th century." With an average elevation of about 4000 metres, the river provides for the hydroelectricity power needs of the country. In addition, some areas within China have been experiencing their worst drought in at least 50 years. Therefore, it is believed that by diverting the river system via constructing the proposed dams, the river will provide for the growing needs of the country; prove to be a useful mechanism in flood control methods and serve the waterway navigational purposes of the country. 

China upholds the principle of ‘Prior Appropriation', meaning that, as the first users of the river course, it must be granted the right of accessing the river without external interferences. This also marks a geo-strategic advantage for China to enforce its power structure in the South Asian region. For China, the building of the dams is merely a run-of-the-river project that will not hold the water of the lower riparian states. However, China’s growing interests from the 'Tibet Three Gorges Dam', (one of the biggest dams in China) construction on the Pondo Water Control Project in 2008, which is expected to be completed in 2016, coupled with the 60 odd number of dams raises serious environmental and risk concerns for its downstream South Asian counterparts. Comprised of a reservoir and a power station, the projects are designed to irrigate millions of hectares of farmland and generate millions of kilowatt hours of electricity annually. 

India's Strategic Move

The recent exchange of state visits over the Brahmaputra discourse by China and India on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit questions the efficacy of the state of affairs, pertaining to a change in the projected plans. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised India’s concerns over Beijing's plans to construct three dams across the Brahmaputra River, President Xi Jinping, as part of the decadal change of power structure in China, maintained that the dams are, merely, run-of-the-river projects and are innocuous.

THIRTY PANDARA ROAD- An address touched by the dynamism of history

First person singular: A.M.

I.G. Patel: one of those who stayed there

I still remember the address: 30 Pandara Road. It was a modest little apartment, of the D-II type in official parlance, not far from India Gate. The allotment was in the name of B.N. Datar, the senior-most in our gang, who was in the statistics department in what continued to be the Bombay Presidency administration and had just joined the fledgling Planning Commission in its labour and employment division. He shared the Pandara Road flat with K.N. Raj, who too had travelled from Bombay, leaving the research department of the Reserve Bank of India at the invitation of J.J. Anjaria to help him set up the economic division of the Planning Commission. The Pandara Road apartment had two teeny-weeny bedrooms with attached baths and an apology of a corridor connecting the bedrooms with the living room, which was slightly more spacious. Datarji, a widower, loved younger company and was always oozing with the milk of human kindness. Besides, he firmly believed in keeping an open house. Raj, with his natural friendliness, was his ideal flatmate. He had been during the war at the London School of Economics, which was then sheltered in Cambridge and where he got to know I.G. Patel, who was doing the economics tripos at King’s College. The two became great chums. As the war ended, Raj returned home with a piping PhD, had a stint as economic correspondent with a Ceylonese newspaper, soon changed his mind and joined the RBI in Bombay. The RBI’s research outfit was an exciting place, but the idea of getting involved in the planned development of the newly independent nation was much too tempting; therefore onward to Delhi. For the first few months in the Planning Commission, it was playing around with building blocks and mostly learning by doing. A couple of years went by, Anjaria and Raj, between the two of them, finally put together the tome which passed as the country’s first Five Year Plan. It was really a prim collection of a set of goody-goody essays touching on issues having a direct impact on growth, any formal planning exercise did not really proceed much beyond hesitant references to a cluster of hopes and aspirations. The elementary Harrod-Domar formula of growth had just appeared in the academic journals, somewhere in the introductory chapter there was an elliptical acknowledgment of its significance. That was all. Never mind, the prime minister, who was also ex officio chairman of the Planning Commission, was overjoyed; here was another course India was taking in its tryst with a glorious destiny. The prime minister insisted that the Central cabinet must have a thorough awareness of the contents and intents of the nation’s first endeavour with planning. The cabinet secretary was assigned the task of reading out the full text of the plan document to the assembled Central ministers. Going through the text over three days was a grim, boring chore. The ministers were generally indifferent, and often dozing off. Not that there was no interesting interlink. At one point, the cabinet secretary read a sentence from the chapter on food and agriculture, which suggested that in order to have an increase in foodgrains output of such and such a percentage over the Plan period, it would be necessary to have an investment of so many thousand crores of rupees. Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, the food and agriculture minister, took umbrage: food was his portfolio, what business had the Planning Commission in intruding into his sphere. Jawaharlal Nehru, visibly perturbed, spoke a few soothing words and succeeded in calming Kidwai down.

But my story has nothing to do with the Planning Commission, it is all about 30 Pandara Road. Once the first Five Year Plan document was ready and done with, Raj chose to cross over to the Delhi School of Economics to adorn a professorial slot. Almost exactly at the same time, I.G. Patel decided to give up his position with the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC and come home to join the ministry of finance in New Delhi. Nature abhors a vacuum; Raj arranged with Datarji that the bedroom he was vacating at 30 Pandara Road be made ready to receive I.G. So the Datar-Raj household got transformed into the Datar-I.G. establishment. As it happened, I too reached New Delhi, again to join the ministry of finance, within a few days of I.G.’s arrival. The contrast between the two of us could not be any greater. He had a dazzlingly wondrous scholastic career in the crème de la crème of academic institutions in the West, a first-class economic tripos of acclaimed merit at Cambridge, his next hop was a year at Harvard, followed by a PhD again from Cambridge. He had ended up with an assignment with the IMF, where he was the blue-eyed boy of Eddie Bernstein, the supreme boss of the IMF’s research department. He was elegance and sophistication personified. I was a rustic from Dhaka, Banaras and an insignificant European country, with a modest, very short teaching stint at Lucknow. All that apart, I was crude and uncouth in my gait. But some odd chemistry took over. I.G. took an instant liking to me, and I quickly shed most of my inhibitions. We got attached to each other at amazing speed. Both of us were in our late twenties; he was, however, a few years ahead. He knocked off some of my inferiority complexes and with his affectionate indulgence — as well as Datarji’s enthusiastic accord — I became the third member of the 30 Pandara Road clientele. I had a small hutment officially allotted to me at Pataudi House, it soon became an irrelevance.

FATA: The Fall of Tirah

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its local ally Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) finally overran Tirah Valley in the Khyber Agency on March 19, 2013, after nearly two months of intermittent heavy clashes with Ansarul Islam (AI) and the Kamarkhel militia, both pro-Government militant outfits. The deadly turf war, which started on January 23, 2013, ended with TTP and LI entering AI stronghold areas on March 18-19 and AI 'chief' Qari Mehboobul Haq and 'deputy chief' Maulana Izatullah Hamkhayal fleeing the area with just 25 confidants. Nevertheless, two AI supporters blew themselves up on March 19, killing 46 of the raiding TTP terrorists. The first suicide attacker blew himself up when the TTP terrorists entered the main office of the AI in the Bagh area. The other suicide attack was carried when TTP cadres moved into the ammunition depots inside the AI headquarters. Sources in the AI said the two suicide attacks were carried out by ‘commander’ Abdul Ghafar and Kashmir Khan. As the clashes ended, Ehsanullah Ehsan, main ‘spokesman’ for TTP, declared, on March 19, that TTP controlled 95 per cent of the Tirah Valley. He further claimed that no civilian was targeted during the fighting, though those who had become ‘part of the war against the Taliban’ would not be spared.

TTP had been trying to re-establish its dominance over the Valley for the past years. The recent turf war, however, commenced on January 23, 2013, after cadres of TTP’s Tariq Afridi faction, who operate in the Khyber Agency, captured a building belonging to AI. AI re-captured their centre after intense fighting. Around 50 TTP militants then attacked the Narhao area of Bar Qamber Khel and torched 15 AI supporters’ houses. Around 18 fighters on both sides were killed in this clash. Another 30 militants were reportedly killed on January 24, when TTP cadres, after attacking the AI in the Narhao area, advanced towards Maidan Bagh, torching more houses and shops on their way. 

Media reports indicate that skirmishes between the four groups further intensified on January 26, when hundreds of TTP militants came to Tirah from Mamozai in Orakzai Agency, following a Security Forces (SFs) operation, and tried to wrest control from AI. At the same time, in Sipah, Malikdinkhel and Akkakhel areas of Bara, LI militants moved towards Zakhakhel and Takhtakai areas of the Valley and began fighting with the pro-government Kamarkhel militia to seize important check posts. In the subsequent fighting, LI captured all the check posts earlier held by the pro-Government militia, in Takhtakai, Naray Baba, Lakai Sar and Madai, on February 1. Following this, pro-Government volunteers moved towards the mountainous check posts of Tora Lagad and joined AI to repulse LI militants from their areas. On February 12, TTP forces attacked AI check posts in Rocket Sanghar and Kajay areas. However, the AI fought back and managed to retain control. On February 26, a gunfight erupted between AI and TTP fighters for control of the Adam Khel area. AI 'deputy chief' Islam Gul was killed during these clashes. TTP militants then attacked the AI stronghold at Narhao in Bar Qamber Khel on March 13, torched some 15 houses belonging to AI fighters, and killed the ‘area chief’ Haji Samar Gul. On March 18, hundreds of LI and TTP militants attacked AI positions in Malikdinkhel, and the Muhammadi Compound in the Maidan Bagh and Kalavach areas. The AI fighters put up some resistance, though the TTP overcame them to establish their control in the area.

After capturing the entire Valley, TTP and LI militants destroyed its communication systems. Residents hoisted white flags on top of their houses in surrender to the TTP, while tribesmen supporting AI started vacating their houses, moving to the Orakzai Agency. Talking to reporters from an undisclosed location, the ‘deputy head’ of AI, Ezatullah, had stated, on January 25, that the group was still intact and its fighters had dispersed under a strategy, and it would retaliate and capture their stronghold in Tirah Maidan. However, the Mehboobul Haq-led AI has so far failed to expel the LI and TTP fighters from Tirah Maidan. Reports indicate that loyal AI fighters have been confined to a post on the mountaintop towards Orakzai Agency.

After much of the Tirah Valley had fallen to the TTP-LI combine, Sadat Afridi, spokesman of the AI, observed, “We have resisted insurgents for over seven years, but this attack was unusual... There were foreign fighters … Uzbeks, Chechens … almost 3,000 of them... We ran out of ammunition and other supplies.”

During the clashes, the Army did pitch in with aerial bombings in favour of the pro-government AI and Kamarkhel militia, though such support was, at best, sporadic. At least six aerial bombing attacks were recorded in media sources, in which 86 extremists were reportedly killed, out a total of 297 extremists killed during the entire offensive. Some of the major aerial attacks included:

Hamid Karzai, Confused by the U.S.

Posted: 28 Mar 2013
Authors Michael E. O'Hanlon Stephen Biddle

For most Americans, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s words and actions are difficult to understand and hard to accept. He often seems ungrateful for the efforts of U.S. troops, cavalier in his ideas of how to change the Afghan-NATO military campaign and irresolute in his commitment to the war effort. He has suggested that our troops stay out of Afghan villages even before Afghan forces are ready to handle security there. He has chastised NATO soldiers for occasional, and clearly unintentional, mistakes that led to civilian casualties. He has withheld a promise to give our troops legal immunity if they stay in his country beyond 2014. He has even equated the U.S. role in prolonging the war with that of the Taliban.

We are among those who wish Karzai would stop this behavior. He struck a more positive tone this week during a news conference with Secretary of State John Kerry, but it would be a mistake to assume that the problems have been fixed. U.S. relations with the Afghan president will sustain further ups and downs, and the only way to reduce the severity and frequency of the low points is by understanding what provokes them.

Karzai is not, as some have claimed, crazy or a fool. He is confused. In his view, the world’s only superpower is surely able to defeat a ragtag force of Taliban guerrillas — if it really wanted to. In his view, the United States could surely force Pakistan to stop harboring Afghan Taliban insurgents — if it really wanted to. Yet Washington does neither. On the contrary, Karzai watches Americans look the other way while their logistical contracts are siphoned off to support the Taliban (albeit less so lately), and he sees Americans give billions of dollars in aid each year to their ostensible Pakistani tormentors. Karzai concludes that there must be some hidden reason for the apparent contradictions.

Karzai, of course, heard President Obama reinforce the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan by 30,000 troops in March 2009 and by another 30,000 that December. Yet Karzai then heard that Vice President Biden suggested,in the same month as Obama’s speech, that the United States did not have a “counterinsurgency” strategy to preserve the Afghan government or a long-term commitment to the countryand that America’s only real interest in the region was to hunt al-Qaeda terrorists, not to defeat the Taliban. More recently, U.S. officials have suggested that the Taliban is not America’s enduring enemy and that, while militants who attack U.S. territory are terrorists, those who strike on Afghan soil are not.

These challenges did not originate in the Obama administration. In 2001 President George W. Bush pledged U.S. support to Karzai, a leader he called a hero. But in 2003 the Bush administration shifted its attention to Iraq and handed off the defense of this hero to a polyglot multinational coalition. Karzai naturally wondered whether Americans believed what they said about the importance of his government’s survival.

Many of these apparent contradictions are unintended byproducts of U.S. efforts to craft a nuanced policy. The United States has security interests in Afghanistan, but they are limited ones. The chief threat to U.S. security in the region is al-Qaeda, but it would be hard to defeat al-Qaeda if its Taliban allies overthrew the Afghan government and took over important parts of the country. Too narrow and intense a focus on the Taliban misses the big picture of America’s underlying interests; by contrast, too little emphasis on defeating the Taliban overlooks a critical means of securing the ultimate end.

To resolve these conflicting incentives, the Obama administration has sought a policy of balance and moderation. These, however, can easily become self-contradiction, confusion and muddle unless the components are carefully crafted and presented. Obama is capable of presenting subtle, nuanced positions on complex issues — his 2008 campaign speech on race relations is a defining example — but he has devoted remarkably little time to discussing his Afghanistan policy in sustained, direct public communication. The result has been mixed and confusing messaging, especially since some White House officials have, occasionally, publicly dissented from that policy.

This is not to absolve Karzai. He often lets emotional impulse preempt analysis, and his outbursts frequently elevate his domestic political interests above the needs of his alliance with the United States or of the war effort.

Yet America shares some of the blame for the public divisions between Washington and Kabul. Our inconsistencies and reversals have interacted with Karzai’s various shortcomings to create an ever more difficult relationship.

That does not change the fact that Karzai and the rest of the Afghan people know they need us and will ultimately try to work with us. We need to keep perspective, and a thick skin, when engaging in this relationship, as Kerry has done. Equally important, we need to get our own message and policy straight. If we do not, we may discover that Karzai’s successor will find us just as confusing as Karzai has.

After the US, Karzai gets tough with Pakistan

By Monish Gulati

Fresh from the success of his “rant” diplomacy against the U.S., Afghan President Hamid Karzai now has Pakistan in his firing line. The provocation came on March 25, when a top Pakistani Foreign Ministry official was quoted by the media as saying, “Right now, Karzai is the biggest impediment to the (Afghan) peace process. In trying to look like a saviour, he is taking Afghanistan straight to hell.” The bureaucrat also said that Pakistan was discouraged by Karzai’s erratic statements and provocations, probably designed to portray him as being very decisive in his dealings, back home in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry, however, soon refuted these remarks, saying that they did not reflect Pakistan’s approach towards the reconciliation process. “We believe in positive engagement with the Afghan government.” The Afghan government responded by saying: “Such comments from irresponsible individuals are part of a failed propaganda attempt to undermine the ongoing historic process of transition.”

The situation worsened on March 27 when Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin said in an interview that officials in Kabul “are in a bit of a state of shock, at once again being confronted by the depth of Pakistan’s complacency” towards peace negotiations with the Taliban, and that Afghanistan is ready to move forward on the talks without Pakistani involvement. It was the first time that Kabul has suggested the possibility of moving ahead with the peace process without its neighbour, as Pakistan is seen as vital to stabilising Afghanistan because of its long ties with insurgent groups, including the Afghan Taliban. He added that Pakistan was changing the goal post every time the two countries reached an understanding.

The deputy foreign minister also stressed that the High Peace Council should spearhead all Afghan peace efforts. He was not happy with the Pakistani suggestion that other Afghan political parties should be included in the peace talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan expressed its concern with what it called Pakistan’s attempt to “sideline” President Karzai’s government in the peace talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his recent visit to Kabul.

In a separate, but according to some analysts coordinated, interview to The Wall Street Journal on March 27, Karzai’s chief of staff Abdel Karim Khurram said that a trilateral summit with Pakistani and British leaders in London last month “demonstrated the interfering but delusional tendency of some in Pakistan who choose to ignore Afghanistan’s sovereignty... and continue to want to... re-exert control in Afghanistan through armed proxies”. He added that the Afghan government found the Pakistani pre-conditions for moving forward on negotiations with Taliban, outlined at the summit, as unacceptable. At the core of the disagreement is the role Pakistan wants to play in the region post-2014.

Afghanistan also canceled a trip by Afghanistan National Army (ANA) officers to Pakistan due to “unacceptable Pakistani shelling” in the eastern border areas on March 27. More than two dozen Pakistani artillery shells were fired into the province of Kunar on March 25 and 26. Eleven ANA officers had been scheduled to take part in a simulated military exercise at Pakistan Army’s Staff College at Quetta. Afghanistan had sent additional troops and long-range artillery to the border with Pakistan in September last year as tensions grew over cross-border shellings which killed dozens of Afghan civilians.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has been accusing Afghanistan of providing safe haven to militants on the Afghan side of the border, particularly in Kunar, who are using these regions to launch cross-border raids inside Pakistan. According to Pakistan, the shelling in Kunar was a local incident involving some intrusion from the Afghan side to which the military authorities had responded. Pakistan has criticised the Afghan decision to cancel a military trip as an “overreaction”. The visit by the ANA officers was a part of the many initiatives agreed to by the Afghan defence minister during his visit to Pakistan early this year, aimed to increase cooperation between the militaries of the two countries.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Year of Living Dangerously

Apr 2, 2013

Once a symbol of the human-rights struggle worldwide, Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s has fallen silent since her release. Peter Popham investigates why.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace laureate and heroine of Burma’s democracystruggle, came to her father’s hometown last week to open a new school.

Fifteen years of house arrest have left no visible mark on her: at 67, she could pass for a woman 20 years younger. As slim and elegant as ever, she wore a traditional cream Burmese outfit, two strings of pearls, and pearl earrings. The red and white flowers in her hair had wilted somewhat in the heat, but Suu Kyi herself, as pale as her blouse, was glassily composed.

Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi tours a Chinese-backed copper mine project in Monywa, Burma, on March 14, 2013. (Soe Than Win/AFP/Getty)

Once she had snipped the ribbon, she was ferried to a stage at the far end of the school’s soccer ground and made a speech. Nothing new here, either: she has given hundreds, perhaps thousands of speeches, since her launch back in 1988. What was different was the crowd—and the response.

During her tours of the country in 1989 and at her election speeches just last year,Suu Kyi drew thousands and thousands—sometimes hundreds of thousands—of passionate supporters. They would wait for her for hours in the full heat of the tropical sun. When she cracked jokes, they roared. When she chided them for chatting or asked them to sit down, they did as they were bid. Ma Suu, Mother Suu, the Lady, carried all before her.

Not so last Thursday. She herself was unchanged, improvising effortlessly as usual, talking of her famous father’s great achievements in winning Burma’s independence from British rule, urging the children in the crowd to emulate him. But the crowd numbered no more than 500. They were there because she was famous—still the most famous personality in Burma. But where was the voltage, the sense of anticipation, the excitement? The mood was tepid; the applause dutiful. Afterward she left in a convoy of party SUVs, disappearing in a cloud of dust.

How a Fringe Pakistani Politician Is Using Obama's Campaign Strategies

APR 2 2013

Imran Khan is a long shot, but his platform of hope, change, and transparency sure sounds a lot like that of a certain 2008 U.S. candidate.

Imran Khan addresses relatives of victims of a twin bomb attack in Quetta on January 13, 2013. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

Late last year, Imran Khan was in Los Angeles, waiting to speak to an auditorium brimming with electrified Pakistani immigrants and first-generation Pakistani Americans at the University of Southern California. Following a rousing introduction, the former superstar cricketer and Pakistan's most promisingpolitical sensation took to the podium to a sea of applause and enthused chants. He embarked on his fundraising campaign with a personal narrative, his eloquent Urdu so drenched in poetic cadence that even his somewhat banal life advice left his enraptured audience feeling inspired.

When someone interrupted him several minutes in, asking him to switch to English, Khan obliged, transitioning with, "Usually people can speak Urdu fluently but still ask me to speak in English." The audience snickered at his jab, but the subtle disdain Khan expressed for Pakistan's political upper crust, who clamor to earn favor with the U.S., was not simply a wry aside but a reference to one of Khan's core political aspirations. Khan's revolutionary campaign, characterized by a call for unity, promises of sweeping change and innovation in outreach, adapts a formula that Americans were introduced to in 2008, with the swelling political rise of Barack Obama. Now, Khan is geared up to challenge President Asif Zardari, who completed his five-year term last month and has recast the tenebrous political landscape in Pakistan.
Khan's bold political platform provides sanctuary to those in Pakistan who have long associated government with the country's deteriorating state.

As head of reformist party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Khan has emerged as the political curveball and popular favorite for the PM seat. Khan's bold political platform provides sanctuary to those in Pakistan who have long associated government with the country's deteriorating state. As the opposition frontrunner to incumbent Zardari, Khan is selling "hope" and "change" to a multi-ethnic citizenry that's as jaded as many Americans were following the Bush era.

Bush's approval rating was 22 percent when he left office. Enter Barack Obama, a candidate who offered the American public what they so desperately desired -- an agenda that embodied change. Obama marketed "change" in a fresh, edgy, indelible way by adopting "Yes We Can" as a slogan, branding his campaign with a sleek logo, and plastering the country with his iconic Hope poster.

The Pakistan that Khan takes center stage in has developed an appetite for change more voracious than that of even a pre-Obama U.S. Pakistani citizens are suffering from a government and infrastructure fraught with corruption at every level; a spiraling economy with a floundering currency and severe obstacles to economic growth; mob, gang, sectarian, tribal, religious violence and a rise in crime; ever increasing poverty; and a region afflicted with foreign drone strikes.

An annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" report blasted Pakistan's current administration for hindering policy and tax reforms "because members are focused on retaining their seats in upcoming elections." Accordingly, Zardari's approval ratings have dipped to 14 percent recently, according to a Pew Center research poll.

Amid this atmosphere of despair, Khan has adapted a platform similar to Obama's "Hope" strategy to ensure that his boost in popularity has some shelf life. Khan has effectively implemented Obama's campaign language, with a few modifications to accommodate for the "enlightened Islam" that is central to his reform agenda- "Yes We Khan, Insha'Allah (God willing)." Promising to destroy the system of corruption, and leaving a trail of transformation in his wake, Khan has branded himself as the "tsunami." Far from being a foolproof slogan, the political tsunami that Khan describes his campaign as is a welcome destruction of the current order for Pakistanis.

Having long been a sideline politician cashing in on his celebrity athlete status, Khan has incrementally accrued credibility for his party and himself over the last decade, arriving at a pervasive, compelling message that appeals to a broad demographic that includes everyone from rural laborers in Waziristan to university students in Lahore and everyone in between.

In a country whose urban middle class is becoming increasingly wired, Khan's ability to connect to his varied fan base is loosely predicated on utilizing Obama's voter outreach template. New media revolutionized modern day campaigning in the U.S. and played a pivotal role for Obama in 2008. Khan's camp-- a conglomerate including foreign imports, a telecom executive, women and members from opposition parties -- has become incredibly web savvy, and PTI's presence in Pakistan's cyberspace is unparalleled.


Wednesday, 03 April 2013 

China does not want the Taliban to dominate after the withdrawal of the US-led forces from Afghanistan. But it is also unwilling at this stage to be a caretaker in the region. It is keeping its cards close to the chest

China’s policy on Afghanistan consists of five Noes: No military role, no involvement in domestic economic and social order, no objection to Taliban in any legal power-sharing arrangement; no criticism of the US role; no participation in NDN (Northern Distribution Network).

From a recent visit to Beijing, it was clear that China has risen; and a new China is being built. It will continue rising till it overtakes the US to become the largest economy in the world — in Purchasing Power Parity by 2016, and in real terms by 2026.

As you arrive at Beijing’s international mega airport — a new one is being built — two slogans greet you. ‘China’s Century’ and ‘Smiling China’. China has reason to smile following an orderly political transition that will endure for a decade without defections. Only death can cause any disturbance. Unquestionably, President Xi Jinping is the second most powerful leader in the world and the first in China after Deng to hold the three top posts ab initio raising the question: Will he be the second Deng.

The other question on everyone’s lips is: Is China ready to assume a leadership role in Asia and internationally or become another Japan, seated at the High Table signing cheques? Already politicalpundits point to some of Mr Xi’s thoughts: Renewal of Chinese nation, promotion of core interests and — this one, problematic for peaceful rise — no longer hiding strength and biding time. In short, expect a more assertive China, shades of which we saw in the last five years in the South China Sea and on our northern borders. Singapore’s Mentor Minister Lee Kwan Yew, who understands China intimately, believes China will hide its strength and bide its time.

The brief interactions with Chinese think-tanks, members of a university and other Chinese and non-Chinese reveal that it is early yet to arrive at any conclusion on China’s leadership role in Asia and elsewhere. Incidentally, a very thin line divides the Track II from official policy in China. The sense we derived goes like this:

Only a few of our interlocutors were conscious that, outside, they are regarded as free riders. On Afghanistan, which is the hottest topic today besides Syria and Africa, the Chinese are very circumspect. First and foremost, they echo the predominant view that US and its allies must remain in Afghanistan till an orderly and responsible withdrawal becomes feasible and not leave it in a mess. Responsibility includes keeping commitments on funding of security and reconstruction projects. As for the burden of war, one view is that Beijing has been complicit in the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which it financed through the purchase of US bonds. It’s as candid as one can get.

The overall view that emerged with a slight exception was that China was neither ready nor willing to play a political or any high profile leadership and military role in Afghanistan as yet. The ‘as yet’ is my own understanding.

Beijing’s focus is and will remain on development, reconstruction and investment commensurate with the security situation in Afghanistan. The Chinese see a clear picture — clearer than is thought outside — of the political and security imperatives in Afghanistan, and since last year, they have taken a reinvigorated interest in the evolving internal situation. Beijing and Kabul signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in end-2012 and are engaged along with Islamabad in two trilateral dialogues, but the mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad ostensibly conjoined brothers, is a legend.

China has a 92-km boundary with Afghanistan through the Wakhan panhandle which is treacherously dangerous terrain, without any road network. China worries about a spillover of terrorism, religious extremism and separatism from Pakistan and is seriously concerned about its internal stability. For the first time, the political leadership in Xinjiang accused Pakistan of exporting terror and Afghanistan of terrorist sanctuaries in its north.

On the political process of reconciliation in Afghanistan, China believes that the Taliban should reconcile, respect the Constitution and participate in elections (2014 and 2015), so that a power-sharing arrangement is in place before the withdrawal. On the reliability and durability of such an understanding, no views were expressed. Incidentally Chinese policy rejects reconciliation with terrorists.

The Dragon Covets the Arctic

China’s lust for oil, minerals, rare earths, fish and desire for an alternative northern sea route boils the Arctic Geopolitics!


Iceland is a small, sparsely populated island nation with a population of only 320,000 and area of 40,000 square miles. It is the only member of the NATO that does not have an army of its own. Icelandic banks were part of the 2008 global financial crisis and meltdown when they exposed the Icelandic government of huge financial risks by indulging in risky loans and speculative foreign currency transactions without having enough liquidity and capital reserves. The fiscal crisis led to a former Icelandic prime minister losing his job and being hauled to court of law for not supervising the banks enough.

In an international capitalistic, mercantile system, if Iceland were a company, it was “sitting duck” for outright purchase and acquisition. Fortunately, foreigners are not allowed to buy any property or real estate in Iceland and need a special permit.

And here comes the Peoples’ Republic of China, rich with $ 3.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in its kitty. It has built a palatial embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland worth $250 million with only 7 accredited diplomats. China is negotiating a free trade area with Iceland, the first with any European nation. Former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao even paid a state visit to Iceland for two full days in 2012. Other Chinese ministers and officials have also been very active in Iceland with bilateral visits and cultural events.

In 2010, Huang Nubo, a “poetry loving” Chinese billionaire and former communist party official visited Iceland to meet his former classmate Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, a Chinese translator with whom he had shared a room in 1970s in the Peking University. He expressed his intense love for poetry and put up $ one million to finance Iceland-China Cultural Fund and organized two poetry summits, the first one in Reykjavik in 2010 and the second one in Beijing in 2011.

Last year (2012), Huang Nubo and his Beijing based company, the Zhongkun group offered to buy 300 sq km of Icelandic land ostensibly to develop a holiday resort with a golf course. This Chinese billionaire wanted to pay $7million to an Icelandic sheep farmer to take over the land and build a $100 million 100-room five star resort hotel, luxury villas, an eco-golf course and an airstrip with 10 aircrafts. A state owned Chinese bank reportedly offered the Zhongkun group a soft loan of $ 800 million for this project.

The deal was blocked by the Icelandic Interior Minister who asked many pertinent questions but reportedly got no answers. Huang would not take no for an answer and has submitted a revised bid for leasing the land for $ one million instead of outright purchase. He makes an unbelievable assertion that there is a market demand for peace and solitude: “Rich Chinese people are so fed up of pollution that they would like to enjoy the fresh air and solitude of the snowy Iceland”.

The current Icelandic government, a left-of-center coalition has given this proposal a cold shoulder. But, with elections due in April 2013 in Iceland, China is hoping for a more sympathetic government to approve the project. Iceland looks like an easy bird of prey for the wily red Dragon with insatiable appetite.

China is showing generosity to another poor and sparsely populated, self-governing island of Greenland by offering investments in mining industry with proposal to import Chinese crews for construction and mining operations. Greenland is rich in mineral deposits and rare earth metals. China wants Greenland to provide exclusive rights to its rare earth metals in lieu of the fiscal investments. Under one such proposal, China would invest $2.5 billion in an iron mine and would bring 5000 Chinese construction and mining workers whereas the population of the capital of Greenland, Nuuk is only 15000.

Arctic Council Membership:

There are eight members of the Arctic Council that includes Canada, Denmark (including Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA. All these eight countries have geographic territories within the Arctic Circle. It was constituted in 1996 as an intergovernmental body but has evolved gradually from a dialogue forum to a geo-political club and a decision making body. There are continuing territorial disputes in Arctic Circle. Ownership of the Arctic is governed by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which gives the Arctic nations an exclusive economic zone that extends 200 nautical miles from the land. Member countries signed their first treaty on joint search and rescue missions in 2011. A second treaty on cleaning up oil spills is being negotiated. The group established its permanent secretariat at Tromso, Norway in January 2013.


strategy page 
April 2, 2013: 

The Chinese Navy announced that its recent aggressive training operations in the South China Sea were only the beginning of an expanded training program. The navy plans to carry out more than 40 more large scale training exercises this year in the South China Sea and beyond. It also appears that China will, after decades of trying to build a reliable SSBN (nuclear submarine carrying ballistic missiles), finally send one of these boats on a patrol. The first Type 94 SSBN was launched in 2004 and officially entered service in 2010. But it was never, until now, considered ready for a combat patrol off North America. That might still be delayed, but a Type 94 has been seen undergoing sea trials and has been worked on at a ship yard for nearly a decade.

China has offered to help Russia rebuild its armed forces. This is mainly all about self-interest. China needs a strong ally and Russia needs help to become that kind of mighty ally. China really misses the old Soviet Union which, with China, created a powerful military alliance. Currently China is more of a superpower than Russia. Chinese GDP is more than three times Russia’s and China is spending more than three times as much on defense as Russia (which is trying to maintain defense spending at 2.8 percent of GDP). China has twice as many troops and most of them have better weapons. But the cost of fixing this appears to be more than the Russians can afford. China is offering to help by spending billions more on Russian weapons (despite the flagrant Chinese theft of Russian military tech). As distasteful as the situation is, the Russians really do need some help. While this offer might appear generous to some Russians, many of them fear that the rapidly growing Chinese economy is gradually making thinly populated eastern Russia (Siberia and the Far East) more Chinese than Russian. But while China is being aggressive about its historical claims on India and the South China Sea, it is very quiet about the even older claims on Russian territory on the Pacific.

Two of the most annoying things for the new Chinese middle class are the growing pollution (most of these newly affluent people live in urban areas) and censorship (especially on the Internet). The pollution you can complain about and more and more people are doing so and publicly. This puts local officials on the spot because many of the largest pollution sources are state owned companies or those that have bribed local officials to disregard pollution violations. While the government tolerates, and sometimes pays attention to pollution protestors in the streets, that same activity on-line is met with increasing censorship efforts. The most annoying censorship is online and carried out by paid and volunteer censors at your company or in your neighborhood. This use of “local activists” to control discussions and inform on possible troublemakers (or worse, like spies or criminals) is an old Chinese custom and one that was highly refined by the 20th century communists (first the Russians, who passed it on to their Chinese comrades.) The informer network suffered a lot of desertions and other damage during three decades of economic freedom. But the government has been diligent about rebuilding the informer and censor network online, where it’s easier for the busybodies to remain anonymous and safe from retribution.

The on-line informers are also useful for keeping an eye on foreign businesses. But another local custom, hackers with the protection of government patrons (and immunity from most prosecution) are constantly going after business secrets of these foreign enterprises (and sometimes their Chinese competitors). Hacking Chinese companies is more dangerous, as the victim might have a more powerful patron than the hacker.

Two more Tibetans (in Tibet and Gansu Province) burned themselves to death recently to protest the Chinese occupation. In the last four years, over 110 Tibetans have burned themselves to death in protest, but the world is not really paying attention. There was a major uprising in 2008 which was quickly and brutally put down. Areas where Tibetan resistance is most active are flooded with additional police and the Chinese troops stand ready to crush anymore insurrections. The sixty year old Chinese plan for cultural assimilation of the Tibetans proceeds. This is how the Chinese empire has expanded for thousands of years, and all around the periphery of China there are unassimilated groups, most of them too small to bother with. The Tibetans are numerous enough to target for cultural assimilation.

Over the last few years China has increased the extent of its intelligence and police state activities in Tibet and western China (Xinjiang province). There the Uighurs (ethnic Turks who were long the majority in Xinjiang) are under increasing pressure from Han Chinese soldiers and police, just as ethnic Tibetans are in Tibet. In both areas the locals continue to support anti-Han (ethnic Chinese) activity. Chinese officials have been publicly urging soldiers and police to be more aggressive against uncooperative Tibetans and Uighurs.

The government tries hard to suppress the news of Uighur and Tibetan unrest. The government has been at this for a long time, constantly shutting down web sites that promote ethnic autonomy, and the complaints of ethnic minorities. The government accuses ethnic activists of endangering state security.

The demands of politics have robbed her of her distinctive voice

There can be few things tougher than sitting out year after year of detention, with no idea of when it will end. But Suu Kyi has discovered that real politics is an altogether more slippery challenge.

On Monday it was exactly one year ago that Suu Kyi won a landslide victory in the election for Kawhmu, a poor township south of Rangoon, Burma’s commercial capital. Five months before, on her first visit to the U.S., then–secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned her that politics was a different game from activism. How right she was.

The member of Parliament for Kawhmu now spends much of the year in Burma’s gigantic new capital, Naypyitaw, where her home is a nondescript gray cement bungalow, in Rose Valley, surrounded by identical homes. Now for the first time she has official status in the country and travels abroad without fear of being barred from returning—but the demands of politics have robbed her of her distinctive voice.

In the past year Burma has seen repeated murderous attacks by Buddhists, the majority population, on the Muslim minority. It has seen renewed hostilities by the Army against an ethnic minority in the far north, the Kachin, including aerial bombardment for the first time. It has seen villagers and monks who protested against a polluting Chinese-owned copper mine hospitalised after heavy-handed policing. Further attacks on Muslims have occurred in the past two weeks, with more than 40 dead.

As a worldwide symbol of the struggle for human rights, there has been hope and indeed expectation that Suu Kyi would speak out on any or all of these issues, to play the role of moral guide and teacher, which she fulfilled so admirably in between her bouts of detention. Instead there has been an uncomfortable silence.

Suu Kyi herself has refused all media requests for months, so we cannot ask her why she has fallen silent. The most likely explanation is that intent on winning the presidential election in 2015, she is taking care not to alienate the mass of voters—overwhelmingly Buddhists, and of her own Burman ethnicity—on whose support she will depend.

Meanwhile, she is also taking care not to fall out with the ex-generals and serving soldiers by whom she is surrounded in Parliament. Burma’s transition from military tyranny to democracy is only half accomplished. She needs these still-powerful men to be sure that they can trust her if she herself obtains power. That may be why she was photographed last week sitting next to the head of the Burmese Army at the annual Armed Forces Day parade—a photo op that enraged many of those who used to idolize her.

The Apology Heard 'Round the World

April 2, 2013

As President Obama wrapped up his recent visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Netanyahu claimed that it was the deteriorating situation in Syria and the need to communicate with Turkey that convinced him to apologize to Erdogan for the “operational mistakes” Israeli forces committed in commandeering the Mavi Marmara in 2010. The raid on the ship trying to break Israel’s control over access to the Gaza Strip had resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens. Following the botched raid, relations between the two, some of the most important U.S. allies in the Middle East, went into a tailspin.

The apology was as dramatic as the events that led to it: Netanyahu called Erdogan from an airport tarmac as President Obama looked on. U.S., Israeli and Turkish diplomats had been working on resolving the impasse for months and had even come close to a deal before, only to be derailed by domestic political calculations. So the Syrian crisis had little to do with the Israeli apology.

The bungled raid had come after a period of deterioration between Israel and Turkey. Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in January 2009 had infuriated the Turks, who had been attempting to bring Israelis and Syrians to the negotiating table. Vitriolic anti-Israeli rhetoric from Turkish leaders on an almost daily basis had further soured relations. A Turkish nongovernmental organization, with the connivance of members of the ruling Justice and Development Party, set sail with the explicit purpose of challenging Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Turks eventually kicked the Israeli ambassador out of Ankara, downgraded relations and insisted on three conditions for a return to normalcy: an apology, compensation and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza embargo. As everyone knew, the last condition was something Israel could never accept, lest it allow another state to dictate its own security policies. Moreover, the Turks (and Erdogan in particular) escalated the war of words to new heights as he threatened Israel militarily for seeking to develop the rich hydrocarbon deposits in its own exclusive economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean. It seemed at times that an accidental firefight between the two militaries was only a matter of time.

Only a couple of weeks before the deal was put together by President Obama, Erdogan shocked many by declaring Zionism to be a crime against humanity, right alongside fascism and anti-Semitism. Israelis, for their part, abandoned Turkey, once a favored tourist destination, in droves. They deepened their relations with both Cyprus and Greece, traditional Turkish adversaries. The Israelis also stopped some arms deliveries: they could no longer trust the Turks to keep their technologies from falling into hostile hands (meaning Iran).

With things going so poorly, why the sudden change? The fact of the matter is that the Israel (and the United States) discovered that there were severe costs to Turkey’s recalcitrant behavior in international fora. The adversarial nature of relations was damaging the workings of other institutions, such as NATO, as well as intelligence-sharing and even missile-defense efforts.

As a result, Washington’s ability to work in the region was severely curtailed. Israel was cut out of certain NATO operations as Turkey, a member country, vetoed Israeli participation at every turn. Turks promised to harass Israeli officers and soldiers involved in the Mavi Marmara raid in international legal venues. This, in effect, was more than a nuisance. Israel, already isolated in its region, found that losing Turkey—a country with which it had built a strong relationship and whose fortunes were on the rise—was more damaging psychologically than materially. There were also other costs some that are less obvious, including the need to expand precious resources, including intelligence, to track and assess potentially hostile Turkish behavior.

How America Lost Its Four Great Generals

April 2013

The quasi-official ideology of the U.S. armed forces holds that generals are virtually interchangeable, that individual personalities don’t matter much, that ordinary grunts are in any case more important than their leaders, and that what really counts are larger systems that make a complex bureaucracy function. There is some truth to all of this. But for all of the bureaucratic heft of the services and the heroism of ordinary soldiers, it is hard to imagine the Civil War having been won without Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan—or World War II without Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Arnold, LeMay, Nimitz, Halsey, and all the other senior generals and admirals.

Likewise it is hard to imagine the War on Terror having been waged without four-star commanders such as David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, John Allen, and James Mattis. They are among the most illustrious generals produced by the last decade of fighting. They are the stars of their generation. From Iraq to Afghanistan and beyond, they emerged from anonymity to orchestrate campaigns that, after initial setbacks, have given the United States a chance to salvage a decent outcome from protracted counterinsurgencies; they have also literally rewritten the book on how to wage modern war successfully. Yet aside from the similarities in the challenges they faced and the skills they displayed in rising to the task, these men share another, more troubling resemblance: They are either gone from the military or (in the case of Mattis) about to go as of this writing. And for the most part they are leaving under unhappy circumstances. A strong case can be made that all were shabbily treated to one extent or another. Petraeus was hounded out of the CIA and McChrystal out of high command in Afghanistan under a cloud of scandal; Allen saw his reputation unfairly marred by scandal before deciding to call it quits; and Mattis is said to have been pushed out early after clashes with the White House. Certainly none of them was afforded the respect and honors that successful officers at the pinnacle of their career ought to expect—in part to drive younger officers to follow their example and seize the day when their time comes. The treatment of these four remarkable generals at the hands of President Obama and his aides, whatever the merits of each individual case, is likely to rankle within the armed forces and leave those forces less prepared for future challenges.

Of the four, Petraeus was first among equals, the dominant general of his generation. McChrystal effectively worked for Petraeus in Iraq after the latter took over the war effort there in 2007. Allen did work for him as deputy commander at Central Command, the operational headquarters for U.S. military efforts in the Middle East. As Petraeus’s successor at Centcom, Mattis was nominally his predecessor’s boss during his time in Afghanistan, but only nominally: Because of the success he had achieved in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, Petraeus had effectively become answerable only to the commander-in-chief.

The story of Petraeus’s role during the surge is well known and would not need much recitation were it not for the persistent attempts by revisionists to deprecate his achievement. His critics argue that (1) the Sunni Awakening (in which Iraqis fighting against the United States instead turned on al-Qaeda) was primarily responsible for the turnaround and independent of the surge orchestrated by Petraeus, and (2) that the impact of the surge was in any case overblown because it did not solve Iraq’s deep-seated political problems.

What should we make of these criticisms?

The Awakening did begin in the fall of 2006 before Petraeus took over command in Iraq. But there had been previous revolts among the Sunni sheikhs of Anbar Province who had chafed under the heavy-handed dominance of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Those revolts had been bloodily repressed by AQI and ignored by previous American commanders, who had assumed that supporting tribal fighters was antithetical to prospects of building a modern democracy in Iraq.

United States Marines and Japanese troops in February participated in training exercises at Camp Pendleton in California.

The New York Times
Published: April 1, 2013 

SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. — The Japanese soldiers in camouflage face paint and full combat gear were dropped by American helicopters onto this treeless, hilly island, and moved quickly to recapture it from an imaginary invader. To secure their victory, they called on a nearby United States warship to pound the “enemy” with gunfire that exploded in deafening thunderclaps.

Japan has long been an Asian exception, and has made a success of exceptionalism. Till the middle of the 19th century, however, it was a pretty average Asian feudal state. Then in 1853, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry steamed into the Tokyo bay with four steamships. The residents of Tokyo could not believe their eyes. They were not unused to Europeans; they allowed a few Dutchmen to visit once in a while. But they had never seen a steamship, made of steel, painted black all over, with a funnel belching smoke. They had seen a lot of dragons in their storybooks; they thought they were seeing real dragons.

But then, the ships put down boats, which filled up with long-nosed white humans, dressed in fancy naval uniforms. The Tokyans ignored the foreign devils, hoping that they would disappear as they had appeared. But Perry just waited and waited. Finally he wore down the Japanese; after nine months, he left with a treaty which permitted American ships to enter the two ports of Shimoda and Hakodate. The Japanese government was shaken, and decided that it would not be taken by surprise again.

In the next decades, Japan discovered the West, imported mechanical spinning and weaving machinery, and became a major textile exporter. It learnt to use Western ships and arms, invaded China and created an empire in Mongolia and Korea. By the early 20th century, Japan was the only industrialized country in Asia. That raised its ambition. It allied itself with Germany in World War II, and occupied the entire region from the western Pacific up to India’s borders. For that temerity, the Americans bombed Japanese cities to rubble. Japan still fought on, until 1945 when the Americans dropped just one atom bomb and annihilated Hiroshima. Three days later they dropped another one on Nagasaki. The Japanese government decided that it was wise to stop before all Japanese cities were destroyed, and surrendered. General MacArthur occupied Japan for seven years.

When occupation ended, Japan chose a pacific route to supremacy. It rebuilt industry. But instead of textiles, it concentrated this time on steel, engineering and automobiles. Soon it was exporting engineering goods and earning payments surpluses on an enormous scale. It became better at engineering than the veterans of Europe and the United States of America, and offered equipment at lower prices. It became the machine maker of Asia. Its exports zoomed ahead of imports, and it accumulated big payments surpluses. It invested them all over the world. It lent India a lot of money in the 1980s, which India blew up. By 1990, India was having another of its payments crises.

Are Drone Strikes Killing Terrorists or Creating Them?

Mar 31 2013

What the evidence says about one of the biggest questions in the debate over targeted killings.

There's been a lot of chatter recently about "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," a new online infographic which shows a chilling visualization of all estimated deaths in Pakistan caused by U.S. drone strikes, including children and civilians, based on estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and New America Foundation. Whether you agree with the numbers, or the politics, behind this particular project (put together by the data visualization firm Pitch Interactive), at least it's sparking debate. And that's got to be a good thing -- there's still so much we don't know about this highly controversial issue.

To say that the use of drone strikes is a polarizing topic would be a vast understatement. In U.S. policy circles, it's projected as an effective counter-terrorism tactic, whereas globally, it is often seen as tacit abuse of state sovereignty. And that's before you get to the debate over potential international law and human rights violations.

Take, for example, the use of drone strikes to target al-Qaida, the Taliban and their affiliates in the restive tribal belt of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. There are a variety of studies available regarding the accuracy, reliability and ultimate effectiveness of this tool of war, and, using the same data, analysts can come to very different conclusions depending on their particular point of view, or -- in some cases -- that of their employers.

For some, the percentage of civilian deaths is the criterion, and for others, denying the terrorists sanctuary is a critical benchmark. The problem is a lack of credible data (and consensus) regarding exactly how many terrorists have been killed by drone strikes and who those terrorists are. Thus, objectivity has become another victim in the process.

In my assessment, the ground realities that must be kept in mind in this analysis include:
al-Qaida and its affiliates are on the run due to drone strikes -- there is a near consensus on this point among all types of analysts.

Pakistan's government (both military and civilian) was fully on board, except perhaps for the past year, which means the sovereignty issue was not relevant in many cases.

Mainstream and moderate Pukhtuns in Pakistan were by and large okay with drone strikes because they did what they and Pakistani security forces couldn't -- however, this is seldom expressed in public.

A significant number of drone victims (likely in the 50-60 percent range by local estimates) have been civilians (including women and children) and this in turn caused higher recruitment for militant groups.