5 April 2013

A Libyan Report Card


In the starkest terms, a state is defined by a bureaucratic hierarchy that monopolizes the use of force over a specific geography. Ideally, nobody need fear the authorities except those who break the law. And because the authorities monopolize violence, nobody need fear his fellow man. Of course, tyrannical states induce general fear among much of the population. And weak states have a difficult time monopolizing the use of force -- the reason why they are weak in the first place. By these standards, many states in the world are weak. And Libya has gone from being a tyrannical state to being barely a state at all. 

Given the calls for intervention in Syria, let's consider Libya, where a modest intervention was tried. 

The authorities in the capital of Tripoli openly acknowledge the fact that they do not monopolize the use of force and have wisely opted for compromise and arbitration in eastern Libya (the Benghazi region) and in the far-flung Sahara to the south. It is difficult to predict whether Libyan affairs will carry on in the form of a benign and relatively mild anarchy (with some institutions working and others not) or will advance in the direction of a more coherent democratic state. Of course, a descent into worse chaos cannot be ruled out.

Libya's fundamental problem is that rather than comprising a compact cluster of demography like the Nile Valley, it is but a vague geographical expression -- a monumentally vast desert and coastal region between historic Egypt and Greater Carthage (Tunisia). Because Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt are geographically associated with specific knots of civilization going back to antiquity, they did not require suffocating forms of tyranny to hold them together like Libya, and to a lesser extent like Algeria, which for decades during the height of the Cold War had a radical socialist regime. For Libya, Moammar Gadhafi's regime was, in fact, anarchy masquerading as tyranny.

Therefore, it should surprise no one that the toppling of Gadhafi brought about the veritable collapse of the state. Libyan authorities do not govern so much as negotiate the terms of geographic control. If anyone doubts the fact that the Libyan state barely exists, they should investigate the situation on Libya's borders. In Libya, borders -- with their connotation of specific, legal lines characterized by passport and security surveillance -- have given way in the direction of frontiers, a term implying overlapping movements of gangs, militias and tribes. Modern states have borders; weak and failed states have frontiers. 

For example, the collapse of Gadhafi's regime brought about the second-order effect of war and anarchy in nearby Mali. Ethnic Malian Tuaregs who had backed Gadhafi fled Libya en masse, taking with them large-scale caches of weapons upon the Libyan leader's demise. The Tuaregs headed back to Mali, where they wrested control of the desert north of that country from a government located far to the south in the capital of Bamako. After the Tuareg rebellion was co-opted by jihadists, there were reportedly almost 2,000 deaths and wholesale raping and looting, in addition to the sacking of world heritage sites. The French government subsequently intervened with troops. Now there are multiple patches of sovereignty in a confused battlefield all across the Sahel and Sahara. The stability of regimes in places like Mauritania and Niger are somewhat more in doubt than before Gadhafi's collapse. Libya, for that matter, is now an ungovernable space in significant parts of the country where al Qaeda can very possibly find refuge. The killing of the American ambassador in Benghazi was indicative of the terrors that a chaotic, post-Gadhafi Libya can offer up.

India’s Afghan Power Play, Via Iran

By Zachary Keck 
April 4, 2013 

India and Iran are actively exploring options for expanding the amount of goods India is sending to Afghanistan via Iran, according to Indian media reports. 

Last week Indian Express reported that the Indian and Iranian governments have begun drawing up a transit agreement to allow India to ship more goods to Afghanistan by going through Iranian territory. According to the report, as part of the agreement the Indian government has begun pushing a cabinet note on investing over US$100 million in the expansion of Chabahar port in southeastern Iran. India helped finance the construction of the port and first used it to ship 100,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan in early 2012. 

Delhi has long viewed Tehran as an integral part of its Afghan strategy given the Persian Gulf state’s proximity to Afghanistan, which allows India to use it to bypass Pakistan. Indeed, Afghanistan, Iran, and India have long discussed different options for utilizing the Chabahar port to enhance trilateral cooperation, including setting up a joint working group on the matter following a meeting the three countries held on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran last summer. 

Besides allowing India to bypass Pakistan, Chabahar is particularly well-suited for India to aid Afghanistan because the Iranian government has built a series of roads connecting Chabahar port to the Iran-Afghanistan border. From there goods can be transported by road to the southwestern Afghan city of Zaranj thanks to the 215 km-long Delaram-Zaranj highway (Route 606) that India built for Afghanistan at a cost of around US$110 million. 

Delhi has also expressed interest in building a 900-km railway linking Chabahar to Hajigak, Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan, where a consortium of Indian state-run and private companies have been awarded rights to mine Afghanistan’s largest iron deposit. 

In this sense the timing of the deal can be partly attributed to India’s need to protect its Afghan investments especially following the withdrawal of NATO forces in Afghanistan. During the 1990’s both India and Iran backed the Northern Alliance forces that battled the Taliban for control over the country. It is likely Delhi and Tehran are prepared to revive this strategy of supporting Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun population should the Taliban begin to make gains in Afghanistan after most foreign troops leave the country at the end of next year. 

That being said, a number of dynamics appear to be driving Indian policy here. 

None of these are more important from Delhi’s perspective than China’s recent decision to assume responsibility for operating Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan. The deep-water port was built with US$200 million of funds from China and is viewed by many in India and elsewhere as part of Beijing’s so-called “string of pearls” strategy of erecting strategically located ports that could potentially service PLA Navy vessels in the future. 

Need for Caution on Space-Related Academic Exchanges with China

By B. Raman
04-April-2013 

1. According to a report carried by “The Hindu” of April 4, 2013, “the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), a Government-run research university known for its work on China’s space programme, signed on April 3 a first of its kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Karnataka-based Manipal University paving the way for closer collaboration on joint research projects.” 

2. The report adds that the Manipal Universirty will sign on April 5 an MOU with BIT’s sister university, the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in southern Jiangsu province. 

3. The report also says: “Both universities have ties to China’s space programme and also run research and development programmes related to defence projects.”

4. For China, research and espionage are synonymous .Chinese universities and nuclear and space research establishments often provide academic cover to their intelligence officers for the collection of intelligence.

5. A Chinese university in Shanghai allegedly collaborates with China’s offensive cyber intelligence set-up to enable the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) develop a capability for infiltrating foreign cyber networks.

6. Strengthening counter-intelligence capabilities against China is a priority task for Western intelligence agencies and particularly for the US intelligence community. Since the Chinese intelligence techniques for the collection of nuclear and space related intelligence from the US came to notice during the Clinton Administration, the US Government has considerably strengthened its counter-intelligence capability against China. This subject is constantly under review by the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees. The US intelligence agencies are cautious in vetting and clearing academic exchange programmes with Chinese academic institutions which are suspected to act as Trojan Horses for the Chinese intelligence. 

7. Our intelligence and counter-intelligence capabilities relating to China are weak. After the 1962 war, we found that China had more intelligence about us than we had about China. Since then steps have been taken to improve our capabilities for counter-intelligence against China. There are still deficiencies. 

8. For the Chinese intelligence agencies, among priority targets in their briefs for intelligence collection in India are our space establishments in and around Bengaluru and our space launching sites on the East coast. Another penetration target for them is the Indo-Russian Brahmo project. 

9. The presence of Chinese space experts in Manipal will enable the Chinese to use Manipal as a base for putting in place an intelligence collection network under the cover of an academic exchange programmne. 

10. When asked about the security aspects of the programme, Shri M. D. Nalapat, Honorary Director of the Department of Geopolitics of the Manipal University, has stated as follows: “It makes no sense for us to avoid dealing with China when every other country in the world is embracing China---even the US and the EU, where universities are having far more in-depth engagement than what we are proposing.” 

11. It is a simplistic argument which can prove counter-productive. No one can object to in-depth exchanges with Chinese institutions in fields like humanities, special areas like energy conservation, pollution control, disaster management etc. But before engaging in exchanges in very sensitive fields like nuclear and space research, we have to be certain that we have the required counter-intelligence capability to prevent the Chinese from misusing the exchanges for intelligence collection and sabotage like injecting computer viruses into the computer networks of our nuclear and space establishments. We had seen what happened in Iran. 

12. The Manipal University’s initiative needs close scrutiny from the Counter-Intelligence angle before it is cleared by our intelligence community

THE WORST IS NOT OVER

Should Cyprus compel India to think harder? 

By Dipankar Dasgupta 

The events surrounding Cyprus signals that the worst is not over. The free capital mobility model is almost certainly not a panacea for all economic woes. Otherwise, why else should Cyprus agree to a bailout package in exchange for its promise to restrict capital mobility itself? The restrictions include the requirement that a distressed bank convert its deposits into its own shares. In other words, quite apart from a bank’s client losing his right to withdraw his money, his net worth, as the shareholder of an ailing bank, will fall. The story, of course, does not end here. The fate of Cyprus depositors has begun to raise doubts in Spain, Italy and other economies too which are themselves hovering in the vicinity of ventilators. Panicky depositors are expected to line up in these countries to withdraw their money before it is possibly frozen Cyprus-style and head towards what appears to them as a safe haven for the moment. The chain reaction so generated could well snowball into yet another crisis. 

A recent observation by the Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman, therefore contains great wisdom: “The truth, hard as it may be for ideologues to accept, is that unrestricted movement of capital is looking more and more like a failed experiment.” (The New York Times and Business Line, March 25, 2013.) To drive home the point as clearly as possible, it is worth recalling the golden era of the Southeast Asian miracle. During 1960-1992, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan maintained consistently high growth rates ranging from 4.5 per cent to 6.9 per cent. Economic reforms, involving export-led growth in favour of import-substituting development strategies, surely had a role to play in bringing about the transformation. However, what distinguished a large part of this period was a dependence on the economies’ domestic saving to support investment (in addition to the building up of a skilled labour force). During the 1990s, however, these emerging economies caught the imagination of lenders and investors from developed countries. The result was that the domestic investment of these countries began to be financed by foreign savings or capital as well, and when things turned sour on account of incorrect moves (involving, in particular, the real-estate sector), the foreigners fled, leaving the banks in these countries to bleed to death. To quote Krugman once more, “The best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of…cases…, the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out.” 

It is against this backdrop that the Indian finance minister’s recent assertions need to be judged afresh. In his budget speech for 2013-14, the FM expressed serious concern about our current account deficit. To quote the minister, “The CAD continues to be high mainly because of our excessive dependence on oil imports, the high volume of coal imports, our passion for gold, and the slowdown in exports. This year, and perhaps next year too, we have to find over USD 75 billion to finance the CAD. There are only three ways before us: FDI, FII or External Commercial Borrowing … India… does not have the choice between welcoming and spurning foreign investment. If I may be frank, foreign investment is an imperative.” 

Pakistan’s Precipitous Decline

By WILLIAM MILAM 
April 4, 2013 


WASHINGTON — Pakistanis are celebrating the accomplishment of an elected government — for the first time in the country’s history — serving in office for the full five years of its constitutional term. Never mind that this is the only accomplishment of that government, or that the news is drowned out by the horror stories that continue to emanate from Pakistan. These only serve to solidify the impression of an increasingly dysfunctional, fragmented, very troubled state, on which much depends, but in which fragility and instability continue to mount. 

Atrocity builds on atrocity. Minorities are targeted and murdered — with seeming impunity — by extremists who brag publicly about doing so. And the violence is not limited to minorities. Anyone who does not meet a narrow and exclusive definition of “Muslim,” as defined by religious fundamentalists, has come under increasing attack. The ubiquitous Sufi shrines, revered by perhaps half of the Sunni population, are assaulted by extremists who regard them as apostate. Humanitarians delivering social and medical services to the poor are gunned down in cold blood — witness the murder of polio vaccine and other health workers, and that of Parveen Rehman, the head of Pakistan’s celebrated urban social service NGO, the Orangi project of Karachi. And now we learn that, with an election coming, the political parties are wooing the perpetrators, rather than pledging to defeat them. 

Predictions about Pakistan, a growth industry today but one that has kept scholars and pundits busy for decades, has often produced insightful and unsettling analyses. Almost all observers come to the same conclusion — Pakistan will muddle through for the foreseeable future. We view Pakistan either through “a glass half full,” meaning that there is hope that someday, in some way, the country will turn around, or through “a glass half empty,” meaning that its long-term trajectory is toward failure, but that it will hold together during our lifetime (glued by the army). 

But the increasingly grim news out of Pakistan forcefully reminds me of what my dear friend, the late Sir Hilary Synnott, former British high commissioner to Pakistan, argued a few years ago. The half-full or half-empty glass was not, he said, the appropriate metaphor. Analysts should, he insisted, look at Pakistan through the image of “a glass too large,” by which he meant a country constantly overreaching. 

I think Sir Hilary was on to something. Pakistan has historically tried to punch above its weight. This derives mainly from its historic regard of India as its existential threat. This elevated the army, gave it a public imprimatur above the politicians, and allowed it to take — almost as its right — most of the state’s resources to maintain an imagined parity with India. To add to its arsenal, the army recruited religious militants to fight as proxies against India and in Afghanistan. The irony is that the army has lost control of these proxies, and it is they who are now carrying out the attacks against the state and its citizens. 

In addition to the army, Pakistan inherited its other political and economic institutions from the British (and to some extent the Moguls) and, as in almost all ex-colonial countries, these were taken over by indigenous elites and the state, for the benefit of those elites and the state. This suited the army just fine, as these institutions were soon dwarfed vis-à-vis the army, and remain so. Had its society remained so structured, over time those political and economic institutions might have become stronger and more independent, and Pakistan more modern. Sometimes that happens, but infrequently. The addition of these now-autonomous militant proxies to an already unpromising mix made that mix even more toxic, and modernization much less likely. 

The war before the war: Soviet precedent in Afghanistan

By Ryan Evans 
April 3, 2013 

Diego Cordovez and Selig S. Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) 

Roderic Braithwaite, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 (London: Profile Books, 2011) 

Artemy M. Kalinovsky, A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011) 

The idea that history offers lessons for the present is uncontroversial and common to the point of cliché. Yet, American foreign policy decisions often proceed with barely a look to the past. And so we were informed in 2009 by then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, likely to return as a fixture in future Democratic administrations, "[T]here's absolutely no valid comparison between the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan" and the U.S.-led campaign to enable the Afghan people to "reclaim their country." Is that so? 

In her award-winning book about the Vietnam War, Fire in the Lake, Frances FitzGerald states: 

Americans ignore history, for them everything has always seemed new under the sun....Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind. They believe in the future as if it were a religion; they believe that there is nothing they cannot accomplish, that solutions wait somewhere for all problems like brides. 

Just as history's lessons were dismissed as advisers begat brigades in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the Soviet experience in Afghanistan has been discarded as irrelevant to our own war by American policymakers, commanders, and commentators. This has left us, in the words of Lord Butler of Brockwell, "like a driver who commits to some manoeuvre in the road without looking into the rear mirror." Indeed, American leaders believe we are on a different road entirely. While there are significant differences between the two interventions, the road winds through the same mountains. 

Two books released as the latest incarnation of foreign intervention winds down - one by Rodric Braithwaite and the other by Artemy Kalinovsky - tell the troubled tale of the Soviet intervention and withdrawal. In doing so, they shatter mischaracterizations that prevent the West from looking to this decade as a source of lessons. The only major flaws of these books, Afgantsy and The Long Goodbye, is that they were published years too late to serve as rejoinders to Undersecretary Flournoy and others who came before her who insisted that Afghanistan, in the words of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, stood "at the dawn of a new day." 

Yet, while Braithwaite and especially Kalinovksy draw on previously unpublished Soviet records and interviews, they were not the first to strike at the myths of the Soviet intervention rooted in the Cold War. Almost twenty years ago, Diego Cordovez, the U.N.'s point man on Afghanistan in the 1980s, and journalist Selig S. Harrison produced the insightful Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal. These three books demand to be read and revisited in combination. They very much complement each other. Braithwaite's Afgantsy provides a vivid, novelistic account of the war in its entirety. Kalinovsky's more scholarly text provides the oft-missing Soviet perspective based on Politburo records, now housed at the Wilson Center thanks to Kalinovsky himself. Cordovez and Harrison give us the ultimate insider's account, bringing readers along for the ride as the U.N. emissary shuttles back and forth between Moscow, Washington, Kabul, and Islamabad, furiously working to get deadly foes to sit down at a table and talk. 

How Iran Won the War on Drugs

Lessons for Fighting the Afghan Narcotics Trade 

April 2, 2013 

Bartering girls into marriage to pay off opium debts has become more prevalent in recent years in Afghanistan. Farmers, middlemen in the drug trade, drug couriers, and even some drug lords themselves sell their daughters to more powerful traffickers and smugglers -- and very little is being done to combat the injustice. 

A drug addict smokes heroin in Kabul (Mohammad Ismail / Courtesy Reuters) 

“Selling poppies is easier than selling diamonds and gold in Afghanistan, and just as valuable,” an official in the Afghan Ministry of Public Health told me in 2011. “The [police] is corrupt, the farmer is poor, and the addict always buys.” 

He was right. The failure of international forces in Afghanistan to curb the narcotics trade presents one of the gravest threats to the country’s long-term stability and security. Even though the U.S.-led coalition has spent more than $6 billion on stopping drug shipments, creating incentives for farmers to exchange poppies for other crops, and disrupting illicit financial networks over the past decade, Afghanistan remains the world’s largest supplier of heroin and other illegal opiates. 

In NATO countries alone, Afghan narcotics cause more than 10,000 heroin-overdose deaths per year -- making them far deadlier than the munitions that have claimed the lives of approximately 3,200 coalition personnel since the start of the war. Meanwhile, needle-sharing among intravenous drug users has led to an explosion of HIV infections from the Russian heartland to communities in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. The Afghan drug trade presents a unique threat to international security, since it has created unlikely bedfellows out of ideologically divergent terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, which has its hands in narcotics transport and financing from Lebanon to South America, and the Taliban, which controls production. 
As Iran's experience shows, the only way to drive down drug use and contain its negative effects is to focus on prevention and treatment. 

Within Afghanistan, the drug trade provides the funding for the ongoing insurgency and perpetuates a culture of impunity and corruption -- major impediments to the establishment of good governance and a healthy civil society. Furthermore, from a public health standpoint, the skyrocketing rate of drug addiction there has created a potentially insurmountable challenge for the central government. A 2010 study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that roughly one million Afghans between the ages of 15 and 64 are addicted to narcotics, up from 860,000 in 2005. Afghanistan’s eight percent addiction rate among adults is twice as high as the global average. 

Most troubling, Afghans are turning to intravenous drug use in large numbers -- heroin use increased by 140 percent between 2005 and 2010 alone. This raises the risk of lethal blood-borne diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, which can be transmitted through shared needles. Left unchecked, Afghanistan’s growing HIV outbreak has the potential to upend the gains made since the Taliban era in limiting the death caused by infectious diseases. 

Beyond the Pivot

A New Road Map for U.S.-Chinese Relations 


The Obama administration has responded to Chinese assertiveness by reinforcing U.S. military and diplomatic links to the Asia-Pacific, to much acclaim at home and in the region. But the “pivot” is based on a serious misreading of its target. China remains far weaker than the United States and is deeply insecure. To make Beijing more cooperative, Washington should work to assuage China’s anxieties, not exploit them. 

A recent essay by Robert Ross characterized the Obama administration's "pivot" to Asia as a hostile, knee-jerk response to Chinese aggression. But the shift was not aimed at any one country; it was an acknowledgment that the United States had underinvested in a strategically significant region. 

Rebalancing act: Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in Beijing, November 2009. (Jim Young / Courtesy Reuters) 

Debate about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations is currently being driven by a more assertive Chinese foreign and security policy over the last decade, the region's reaction to this, and Washington's response -- the "pivot," or "rebalance," to Asia. The Obama administration's renewed focus on the strategic significance of Asia has been entirely appropriate. Without such a move, there was a danger that China, with its hard-line, realist view of international relations, would conclude that an economically exhausted United States was losing its staying power in the Pacific. But now that it is clear that the United States will remain in Asia for the long haul, the time has come for both Washington and Beijing to take stock, look ahead, and reach some long-term conclusions as to what sort of world they want to see beyond the barricades. 

Asia's central tasks in the decades ahead are avoiding a major confrontation between the United States and China and preserving the strategic stability that has underpinned regional prosperity. These tasks are difficult but doable. They will require both parties to understand each other thoroughly, to act calmly despite multiple provocations, and to manage the domestic and regional forces that threaten to pull them apart. This, in turn, will require a deeper and more institutionalized relationship -- one anchored in a strategic framework that accepts the reality of competition, the importance of cooperation, and the fact that these are not mutually exclusive propositions. Such a new approach, furthermore, should be given practical effect through a structured agenda driven by regular direct meetings between the two countries' leaders. 

HIDDEN DRAGON NO LONGER 

The speed, scale, and reach of China's rise are without precedent in modern history. Within just 30 years, China's economy has grown from smaller than the Netherlands' to larger than those of all other countries except the United States. If China soon becomes the largest economy, as some predict, it will be the first time since George III that a non-English-speaking, non-Western, nondemocratic country has led the global economy. History teaches that where economic power goes, political and strategic power usually follow. China's rise will inevitably generate intersecting and sometimes conflicting interests, values, and worldviews. Preserving the peace will be critical not only for the three billion people who call Asia home but also for the future of the global order. Much of the history of the twenty-first century, for good or for ill, will be written in Asia, and this in turn will be shaped by whether China's rise can be managed peacefully and without any fundamental disruption to the order. 

Beijing's westward pivot will make the Gulf a critical ally

By Minxin Pei 
Apr 4, 2013 

China has long billed itself as the largest developing country in the world, yet it has a complicated relationship with non-western countries.

Under the late dictator Mao Zedong, the country was mainly interested in supporting revolutionary insurgents around the world. After the reformer Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1979, he shifted the focus of Chinese foreign policy. Realising the indispensability of western capital, technology, and markets, Deng made Chinese foreign policy Western-centric.

Thirty-four years and three changes of leadership later, Beijing seems to be focusing its attention increasingly on the developing world. This was reflected in the itinerary of the first overseas trip taken last month by Xi Jinping, the newly installed chief of the Communist Party.

While his choice of Moscow as the first stop was not unusual (his predecessor also picked Moscow as the first foreign destination in 2003), Mr Xi took the unprecedented step of becoming the first Chinese leader to visit Africa on his maiden diplomatic foray. He visited South Africa, Tanzania and Congo.

Two motives lie behind China's embrace of these resource-rich countries.

The first is obviously China's continuing quest for resource security. China may have grown rapidly since Deng opened its doors to the outside world, but the country is still in the middle of an industrial revolution. Its per capita consumption of energy, steel and other commodities is a quarter to a tenth of that of developed countries. Even if its economy slows down to between 5 and 7 per cent growth per year, it will still need to import huge quantities of raw materials and energy for decades to come.

The second motive is geopolitical. Mr Xi's trip to Moscow was meant to underscore the strategic importance of Sino-Russian ties. Russia is not only China's biggest arms supplier, but also a close diplomatic partner. The two countries have cast nearly identical votes in the United Nations Security Council in recent years. In February last year, they shocked and angered the West by jointly vetoing a UN resolution on Syria. China and Russia resent the West's democracy and human rights agenda, and so are ideological allies even though one does not fundamentally trust the other.

The burgeoning ties with developing countries, from Africa to the Middle East, are more complicated.

For China, key African countries are not just depositories of natural resources. They are useful diplomatic allies. South Africa, for example, is key to China's efforts to bolster its image in Africa, and its president, Jacob Zuma, has not disappointed Beijing.

China's shale goal to boost Gulf

Apr 4, 2013 

China's ambitious goal of replicating North America's shale revolution will change the dynamics of the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market to the benefit of gas importers in the Arabian Gulf.

Last week China took a big step towards opening up its vast gas reserves with a deal struck between the Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell and the government-controlled China National Petroleum Company (CNPC). 

"It's early days, but Chinese shale could be an enormous story," said Robin Mills, the head of consulting at Manaar Energy. "It strikes me as a place that would do shale well."

Shell has committed to investing US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) a year into developing a shale gas block in the Sichuan basin.

China plans to increase the share of natural gas in its energy mix, and draw on its own resources to meet demand. 

While 19 shale blocks have already been allocated for production, these have gone to Chinese companies lacking the technology and expertise to tap the fields.

Foreign players will be crucial to develop China's shale, adding to the significance of the Shell-CNPC joint venture.

Annual consumption of gas will grow by 20 billion cubic metres every year to reach 230 billion cubic metres by 2015, according to the national energy administration. The government intends to help to meet demand with a surge in shale gas production, and has set a target of extracting 6.5 billion cubic metres of gas by 2015, and up to 100 billion cubic metres by 2020.

Shale gas is found in underground rock formations, which are tapped by applying hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that unlocks gas with horizontal drilling and the injection of water and chemicals. Fracking has proved a game-changer in North America, where gas prices have tumbled as production soars.

The energy information administration in the United States estimates that China has 36 trillion cubic metres of recoverable shale reserves, more than the US and Canada combined.

If China is able to tap its reserves successfully, it would blunt the impact its huge rise in demand would have on the global LNG market.

As China's Xi Jinping visits, Africa asks: What are we getting out of this?

By Peter Ford
March 26, 2013

Chinese President Xi Jinping is touring parts of Africa this week, celebrating ever-closer economic ties that have made Beijing the continent’s biggest trading partner. But the bloom is off their initial romance, as each side finds previously unseen flaws in its partner. 

“The honeymoon is over,” says Deborah Brautigam, an expert on China and Africa at Johns Hopkins University. “Now they are working on their relationship. It is not purely harmonious by any means.”Indeed, China and Africa may be going through something of a “seven-year itch,” say some observers. It has been that long since 48 African leaders gathered at an unprecedented summit in Beijing to embrace China, and now some influential African voices are grumbling about whether their continent has benefited sufficiently from that embrace. 

The figures are startling: Chinese trade with African countries has leapt fourfold in six years to reach nearly $200 billion in 2012. There are now between 1 million and 2 million Chinese businesspeople in Africa, according to the government here (which does not keep accurate count). Chinese investments in Africa are worth more than $20 billion. 

“Generally speaking, China has fulfilled the expectations it had seven years ago for its relations with Africa,” says Niu Xinchun, a researcher at the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a government-linked think tank in Beijing. But in recent weeks, two prominent Africans have wondered aloud about their own expectations. “We have had some bad experiences with Chinese companies in this country,” Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, said in a recent interview with the Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper. 

In the future, “we are going to be looking very carefully at any company that originates from China in providing construction services of any nature,” he added, saying other African leaders shared his views. 

'Essence of colonialism' 

Mr. Khama blames the electricity cuts in his country on a Chinese firm’s slow work to build a power plant. The governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Lamido Sanusi, has a broader worry. “China takes our primary goods,” such as oil and minerals, to fuel its economic boom “and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism,” Mr. Sanusi wrote in a recent opinion article published in the Financial Times. “Africa is now willingly opening itself up to a new form of imperialism.” 

Even some Chinese scholars are nervous that the behavior of Chinese companies in Africa – often accused of poor environmental and labor relations standards – will sour China’s relationships. “China’s main challenge is to demonstrate that it is not repeating the old practices of the European powers,” warns Pang Zhongying, an Africa specialist at Renmin University in Beijing. “China has to match its deeds to its words … or Sino-African relations may have no future.” 

THE CHINESE VOLUNTEER ARMY

April 4, 2013

China continues to expand its already enormous Internet Army (as it is called in China). The latest success is the effort to force companies to organize their Internet savvy employees into a cyber-militia, and inspire these geeks to find ways to protect the firm's networks. Two years on this did not turn out exactly as expected as many of the volunteers have become successful, but unpopular, censors. It’s now widely accepted one of most annoying things for the new Chinese middle class is the censorship (especially on the Internet). The most annoying censorship is the online version that is 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 old-school 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. 

This began over two years ago when businesses and local governments were ordered to organize local “militias” to protect their Internet access and computer security in general. In practice, many companies just told all males under 30 that they had volunteered for the “Online Red Army”. Less publicized was the training given to some of these company militias on how to carry out Internet based espionage. The understanding was that there much less risk if this capability is only used against foreign firms in China. But these volunteer company Internet spies found they now had some power, and despite the relative anonymity of these spies, it introduced a new source of fear and intimidation into the workplace. 

All this is another result of 15 years of effort to mobilize the Chinese people as an Internet army. It was in the late 1990s that the Chinese Defense Ministry established the "NET Force." This was initially a research organization, which was to measure China's vulnerability to attacks via the Internet. Soon this led to examining the vulnerability of other countries, especially the United States, Japan and South Korea (all nations that were heavy Internet users). NET Force has continued to grow, aided by plenty of volunteers. 

In 1999, NET Force organized an irregular civilian militia; the "Red Hackers Union" (RHU). These are several hundred thousand patriotic Chinese programmers and Internet engineers who wished to assist the motherland, and put the hurt, via the Internet, on those who threaten or insult China. The RHU began spontaneously (in response to American bombs accidentally hitting the Chinese embassy in Serbia), but the government gradually assumed some control, without turning the voluntary organization into another bureaucracy. Various ministries have liaison officers who basically keep in touch with what the RHU is up to (mostly the usual geek chatter), and intervene only to "suggest" that certain key RHU members back off from certain subjects or activities. Such "suggestions" carry great weight in China, where people who misbehave on the web are very publicly prosecuted and sent to jail. For those RHU opinion-leaders and ace hackers that cooperate, there are all manner of benefits for their careers, not to mention some leniency if they get into some trouble with the authorities. Many government officials fear the RHU, believing that it could easily turn into a "counter-revolutionary force." So far, the Defense Ministry and NET Force officials have convinced the senior politicians that they have the RHU under control. Meanwhile, the hackers (or “honkers” after the Chinese word for “visitor”) became folk heroes and the opportunity to join your company’s contingent of the “Online Red Army” appealed to many as a chance to be like the honkers. 

NET Force was never meant to be just volunteers. Starting in the late 1990s, China assembled the first of what eventually grew to 40,000 Ministry of Public Security employees manning the Golden Shield Project (nicknamed as The Great Firewall of China). This was an effort to monitor and censor Internet use throughout the country, and punish those who got out of line. In the last decade, over a billion dollars has been spent on this effort. While the Great Firewall cannot stop someone expert at how the Internet works, it does greatly restrict the other 99 percent of Internet users. And it provides lots of information about what is going on inside all that Internet traffic. Foreign intelligence agencies are beginning to find the Great Firewall of China is going from nuisance to obstacle. This has put government intelligence organizations in a difficult position. In the U.S., the feds feel compelled to seek assistance from, and work with, hackers who are developing new ways to tunnel through the Golden Shield. There are several non-governmental outfits that are involved with this effort, and most are hostile to intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, some relationships have been formed, to deal with mutual problems. 

U.S.Trade War With China?

By David Cohen 
April 5, 2013 

A good way to directly or inadvertently start a trade war with China would be to take on the economic development goals expressed in the Five-Year Plan. After all, China's leaders see continued economic growth as the key to their survival. 

Conscious that massive investment in heavy industry is unsustainable, Party planners have focused for years on “innovation.” In the future, they believe, China must change from manufacturing goods for multinational companies to selling products developed by Chinese companies under Chinese brands. Thus, China's leaders hope to avoid the “middle income trap” and a prolonged recession that could fatally undermine the legitimacy of the Party. 

After the first five years of the “indigenous innovation” policy, it has become known in the international business community as a massive scheme for protectionism and technology theft. Dealing with its impact remains a top priority for American trade negotiators. But a few Chinese companies have emerged as global brands during this period, establishing a niche in international markets as reliable low-cost alternatives – PC maker Lenovo, the appliance company Haier, and the network equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE. 

So the way that the U.S. has dealt with Huawei and ZTE, pillars of China’s economic development, over the past year is remarkably ill-advised. Friday's Wall Street Journal suggests that American regulators are taking a page from China's protectionist playbook – using vague national security concerns, secret hearings, and behind-the-scenes pressure on private companies to exclude Chinese competitors from American markets. This is hardly consistent with Washington’s efforts to open Chinese markets to American IT equipment – an issue which dominates. 

Most recently, U.S. regulators have pushed Japanese and American telecom operators Softbank and Sprint to swear off using Chinese-made equipment as a condition of their proposed merger. The move was driven by concern about Chinese hacking and intellectual property theft. This follows a move by Congress two weeks ago that added language to a budget resolution strongly discouraging government agencies from buying IT equipment from companies “owned, directed or subsidized by the People's Republic of China.” 

As the Journal shows, the decision in the Sprint-Softbank deal was suggested by the national security apparatus, and doesn't appear to have followed any set rules – it differs from the deal worked out by the Federal Communications Commission in the T-Mobile/Metro PCS deal also under negotiation. Federal officials have evidently settled on a ban that isn't a ban: 

“Because of concerns about violating trade rules, any constraints wouldn't specifically exclude gear from Huawei, which Softbank has used in its home market of Japan, or ZTE, a person familiar with the process said. Nor would they explicitly give the government a veto, this person said. But U.S. officials have made no secret of their distrust of the Chinese companies and are aiming to make sure their equipment doesn't become a core part of U.S. telecom infrastructure, the people said. 

"You have to find a way to say, 'Don't buy from the Chinese,' without saying, 'Don't buy from the Chinese,' " said a person who has spoken with Sprint.” 

United States: Strategic Blunders in East Asia

By Dr. Subhash Kapila
04-Apr-2013 

East Asia has figured high in the United States strategic calculus ever since the end of the Second World War. Right till China made a strategic swing away from the former Soviet Union, the Eastern littoral of Asia resting on the Western Pacific presented a solid shield of Communist States allied to Russia namely China and Vietnam. 

United States was fortunate that at that time neither China nor Vietnam had Navies worth the name to tilt the balance against the United States. The United States with its awesome power attributes and force projection capabilities of the US Navy and the colossal power of the US Air Force dominated East Asia militarily. 

The end of the Cold War did not bring in any peace dividends for East Asia or the United States with the diminishing of the Soviet Threat. A new threat was in the making in East Asia and this time it was in the form of Communist China, which was no longer tilted to the United States but was swinging back towards a militarily diminished Russia. For a decade or so until Russia’s resurgence materialised under President Putin, China assumed a superior air and attitudes as the senior partner in the evolving China –Russia strategic nexus. 

However, equations changed in the Russia-China strategic relationship in the decade following when China had to overwhelmingly depend on Russian energy supplies, Russian armaments and defence technology. Russia and China while proceeding along with their so-called strategic nexus were aware that neither ideological affinities nor strategic convergences of any substantial content joined them together. It was a downright ‘marriage of convenience’ which like all such marriages could dissolve at the drop of a hat. 

At the time of this writing in 2013 the strategic picture in East Asia, briefly emerges as follows:
The China Threat has emerged as a serious strategic concern for the United States and its unquestioned strategic supremacy in Asia Pacific 
The China Threat has emerged in menacing contours to all Asia Pacific countries extending from Japan and all the way to India.
The China Threat has substantial military capabilities to challenge the status-quo in East Asia 

The United State has belatedly resorted to the strategic pivot to Asia or what the United States now terms as rebalancing of force deployments in Asia Pacific. United States deferring to China may call it what it wishes but the central fact is that this is a belated putting into effect a strategy of containment of China. 

The United States is being hypocritical when it justifies its existing approaches to China as a policy of “Congagement” that is a simultaneous strategy of ‘Containing China” as well as “Engagement of China”. It reflects a critical dilemma for the United States and its emphasis on “China Hedging Strategy”. 

The world has a right to ask the United States pertinently as to for what eventualities or what scenarios it is persistently pursuing “China Hedging Strategy”? Other questions that comes to one’s mind in this connection are does the United States still fears Russia’s return to a bipolar equation with the United States? Or whether in that eventuality would China once again swing to a quasi-strategic nexus with the United States? And whether China would prove to be a steadfast ally of the United States against Russia? 

Asia's Resource Scramble

By Brahma C 
3/4/2013 


Competition for strategic natural resources – including water, mineral ores, and fossil fuels – has always played a significant role in shaping the terms of the international economic and political order. But now that competition has intensified, as it encompasses virtually all of Asia, where growing populations and rapid economic development over the last three decades have generated an insatiable appetite for severely limited supplies of key commodities. 

Asia is the world’s most resource-poor continent, and overexploitation of the natural resources that it does possess has created an environmental crisis that is contributing to regional climate change. For example, the Tibetan Plateau, which contains the world’s third-largest store of ice, is warming at almost twice the average global rate, owing to the rare convergence of high altitudes and low latitudes – with potentially serious consequences for Asia’s freshwater supply. 

In other words, three interconnected crises – a resource crisis, an environmental crisis, and a climate crisis – are threatening Asia’s economic, social, and ecological future. Population growth, urbanization, and industrialization are exacerbating resource-related stresses, with some cities experiencing severe water shortages, and degrading the environment (as anyone who has experienced Beijing’s smog can attest). Fossil-fuel and water subsidies have contributed to both problems. 

Faced with severe supply constraints, Asian economies are increasingly tapping other continents’ fossil fuels, mineral ores, and timber. But water is extremely difficult – and prohibitively expensive – to import. And Asia has less fresh water per person than any continent other than Antarctica, and some of the world’s worst water pollution. 


The intensifying competition over natural resources among Asian countries is shaping resource geopolitics, including the construction of oil and gas pipelines. China has managed to secure new hydrocarbon supplies through pipelines from Kazakhstan and Russia. But this option is not available to Asia’s other leading economies – Japan, India, and South Korea – which are not contiguous with suppliers in Central Asia, Iran, or Russia. These countries will remain dependent on oil imports from an increasingly unstable Persian Gulf. 

Furthermore, China’s fears that hostile naval forces could hold its economy hostage by interdicting its oil imports have prompted it to build a massive oil reserve, and to plan two strategic energy corridors in southern Asia. The corridors will provide a more direct transport route for oil and liquefied gas from Africa and the Persian Gulf, while minimizing exposure to sea-lanes policed by the United States Navy. 

One such corridor extends 800 kilometers from the Bay of Bengal across Burma to southern China. In addition to gas pipelines – the first is scheduled to be completed this year – it will include a high-speed railroad and a highway from the Burmese coast to China’s Yunnan province, offering China’s remote interior provinces an outlet to the sea for the first time. 

Manhattan project for cyber security


By  sam
March 26th, 2013 

Mr. Lewis Shepherd of Microsoft came to Purdue to give a talk for CERIAS awhile back and he talked about how equating the Manhattan Project to the world of cyber security is completely wrong. I liked his talk quite a bit, and it aligned closely with something I’ve been talking to people about for awhile. Talking to people is important. I know my impact on the world is going to be negligible but I’ve dedicated my life to infecting the youth of the world with a few stray ideas. They call it teaching, and it doesn’t pay much. I think Mr. Shepherd was making a good case that scope, and cause and effect, and process of one program might no align realistically with another program. The secrecy, single mindedness, and type of problem that was the Manhattan project has almost nothing to do with the quite different project of cyber security. Much like I’ll never be able to equate my teaching to Socrates, the cyber security community shouldn’t really think “Manhattan Project”. 

I wish I could make a billion dollars off my ideas but as an academic that is almost for sure not going to happen. I do have a compensation path planned. If the students get rich they’re supposed to buy me an endowed chair. But, you as a reader showed up to find out how we can fix information security. The quick answer is we can’t.
All your concepts of information security, the hacker conferences, the college courses, the subject matter experts, the standards, the processes, the technologies, and so much more are simply wrong. The entire architecture of the information technology paradigm as currently instantiated is simply not capable of being secure. The political processes, standards of the government, the principle actors of information security, and the perverse incentives of having an intelligence agency head the primary infosec organization up simply won’t allow information security to flourish. 

You see one of the lessons we can take from the Manhattan project is that you’ve got to think of new and innovative things without being hampered by the nay sayers and those who say failure is assured. I’m not saying you don’t take into account all the ways that didn’t work. What I am saying is that we spend a lot of time working towards the things we know already don’t work. Think about some of the standard security mechanisms. 

Everything you likely think about defense in depth is wrong. All of the audit and compliance stuff is wrong. The firewall and intrusion detection and prevention technologies are wrong. The autocratic and dictatorial policies of information security are wrong. The underlying theories of robust and resilient programming are wrong. There is nothing about the current information technology infrastructure that is security oriented. The foundations of the technologies are fundamentally at odds with creation of an information secure culture. Now to be honest I didn’t say this. Neumann, Saltzer, Cerf, Bernack, and so many other people said this long before I did. But, maybe you haven’t read their stuff before. 

How can I possibly support that they are all wrong and don’t work? Pretty simple. They don’t. Though we can secure systems to some point we are almost always talking about a security absent some failure in the system. There is nothing really secure. This is a huge problem that breaks most peoples “common sense” way of thinking about security. Simply put the way we do things will never be secure and we should stop trying to fix things the way we know doesn’t work. 

Now the ignorant, mentally lazy, those incapable of handling the difficult reality of irreconcilable problems are bound to failure will simply put up their hands and say, “What’re we supposed to do give up?” They then will take a higher than mighty moral sounding stand, denigrate the concepts laid out here, and continue to fail to provide you, your organization, the government and about anybody else information security. There were a lot of people who did that when they suggested making a nuclear bomb. The role of information security practitioner and researcher is often filled with the autonomous arrogant idiots who claim near mythic powers of security. Breaking things doesn’t make you good, and trying to secure technologies never destined to be secure is just as bad. 

Military Sees Broader Role for Special Operations Forces, in Peace and War

April 2, 2013

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Here at the headquarters of the Army Special Operations Command, planning is well under way for a significantly increased presence in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the Special Forces soldiers with the distinctive green berets who were the first American troops into Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Special Operations forces, which include Green Berets, Navy SEALteams, the Rangers and specialized aviation units, have historically been a small corner of the military and not always embraced by conventional commanders. 

But they took on large and central roles for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their integration with the conventional military transformed the way the Defense Department is thinking about future conflicts. 

Army Special Operations forces number only 23,000 soldiers in all, and Green Beret “A Teams” are in high demand. Because of deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, Special Operations commanders have been able to meet barely half the requests from regional military headquarters outside the Middle East. 

“The nation does not want another Afghanistan,” said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, head of the Army Special Operations Command. “So, how do we prevent conflict? Army Special Operations forces can be out there looking at instability, and looking at how to build capabilities.” 

General Cleveland said he envisioned preparing his soldiers for two broad missions. “When I am at war, I have to campaign to win,” he said. “When I am not at war, I am campaigning to either shape the environment or I am campaigning to prevent war.” Although the large conventional military is out of Iraq and is leaving Afghanistan, Special Operations forces will remain “in an era of persistent operations,” he said. 

But Americans have shown little appetite to support another large-scale overseas military effort — and President Obama vowed in his State of the Union message that America would not occupy other nations on his watch. So the Pentagon is working “by, with and through” allied and partner nations to enhance global security, to use the current catchphrase. 

Special Forces has sent small groups of Green Berets to train foreign fighters for decades, and that mission is expected to expand.

Also under consideration are plans to increase the number of small teams of Green Berets, who are trained in foreign cultures and languages, assigned to American embassies to support noncombat efforts, in particular identifying security risks before they reach crisis level.