9 April 2013

Shut out of BARC, U.S. scientist foresaw Indian nuclear test

Murali N. Krishnaswamy

The Hindu Archives Indira Gandhi at Pokhran, nuclear test site.

A year before India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, a Bombay-based scientific representative of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission was quite certain it would do so ‘in the not too distant future.’ Concurring with his assessment, a senior U.S. diplomat felt Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would take the step to offset public disenchantment with her government and the country’s growing economic troubles.

The American scientist’s suspicions grew, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, when the Indian nuclear establishment shut its doors on him, afraid that he was being used by the U.S. government to spy on them and would find out too much.

It is generally thought that the world was taken by surprise when the ‘Buddha smiled’ in Pokhran on May 18, 1974. But the cable sent by the U.S. Consul General in Bombay on April 4, 1973, was quite certain that India was on the verge of testing a nuclear device.

“As aura of Indo-Pak victory and 1970/72 electoral successes dim and as public disenchantment with PM and GoI mount reflecting increased economic distress it occurs to us in Bombay that in addition usual scapegoats, ‘demonstration’ of a nuclear device for peaceful purposes in not too distant future,” the U.S. Consul-General in Bombay wrote in the cable (1973NEWDE03743_b, secret).

The main source for the assessment was the AEC representative, John Pinajian, who had shared his ‘personal evaluation’ of India’s nuclear position with the Consul General, based on his own observations at ‘various levels in India, broad extrapolations based on technical papers presented at Indian scientific meetings as well as impression gathered from public and personal comments made by member atomic energy community.’

Dr. Pinajian told the U.S. Consul General that it was “fully within the capabilities” of India to “demonstrate its nuclear capability by exploiting peaceful application of a nuclear device” in the “near future and indications available to this end suggest that GoI may be working to this end.”

Dr. Pinajian was also of the view that the Department of Atomic Energy was laying the groundwork for the export by India of “largely ingenous [sic] atomic reactors (200 MWe).”

His impressions, Dr. Pinajian told the diplomat, were based on several things. Although he had “excellent credentials and contacts dating back to Oak Ridge” (the Tennessee city where some U.S. nuclear research facilities are located), he was being rebuffed by top scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR).

Despite an agreement with AEC India that the USAEC was making Dr. Pinajian “available as an expert,” and a suggestion by Dr. Homi Sethna, then AEC India chairman, that the scientist should ‘immediately’ go to work at BARC, Dr. Raja Ramanna, the head of BARC avoided meeting him until Dr. Sethna personally intervened to get him the appointment.

But the meeting was fruitless for the American scientist, as the BARC chief said it would be ‘impractical’ for him to work in the particular division he wanted to be in, as that would require permission from the Centre.

Countering Artillery Shells, Rockets and Missiles

Issue Courtesy: CLAWS | Date : 08 Apr , 2013

Victory in a conflict in the current century will be decided by Asymmetry in Fire Power. Israel and the US have constantly used technology to multiply their capabilities. The Hamas operating from the Gaza strip have been sporadically firing at the Israeli settlements since 2001. They have fired a variety of ammunition on Israeli settlements commencing with the Qassam-1, 60 mm mortars having a range of four km followed by Qassam-2, 150 mm rockets ranging 10 km and finally Qassam-3, 170 mm rockets with a range of 12 km in 2005. Thereafter the Iranians in 2008 supplied through the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon the potent 122 mm GRAD BM-21 rocket with a maximum range of 45 km.

There is a need for our scientific establishment to examine the details and to develop the system to counter the Pakistani Tactical Nuclear Weapon.

Last November (2012) they fired a 333 mm Fajer Iranian rocket with a range of 75 km. This enabled Hamas to engage areas of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The Israelis with assistance from the United States developed weapon systems to counter these projectiles, rockets and missiles. It is pertinent to note that Iran has constantly threatened Israel with its missiles. Necessity is the mother of invention and it would be interesting to examine the development of Anti-Ballistic Missile system in Israel to counter the Iranian threat.

Counter weapons

Israel has a population of about eight million which is half the population of Mumbai. Therefore she has to win conflicts using high end technologies which can nullify the effect of shells, rockets and missiles. Dedicated research has led to development of three weapon systems. These are the Iron Dome, David Sling and the Arrow missile.

The Iron Dome was used by the Israeli Defence Forces in their current offensive titled “Pillars of Defence” against the Hamas in November 2012. The system is diagrammatically illustrated below


Broadly there are three components in the system which comprises of the detection and tracking radar, the Battle Management and Control and finally the Missile firing unit. The Iron Dome is manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defence System and was developed in 2005 with inductions since 2011. Each missile weighs 90 kg, has a length of 3m and diameter of 160 mm. The interceptor has a proximity fuze and the launch platform comprise of three launchers each carrying 20 interceptors. On 07 April 2011, the system first intercepted a Grad BM-21 rocket fired from Gaza. In 2012 more than 400 rockets including theFajer rocket with a range of 75 km. The Jerusalem Post has reported on 10 March 2012 that the system shot down 90 percent of rockets launched from Gaza. In November 2012 during the Israeli Operation Pillar of Defence Iron Dome again proved its worth and countered Hamas rockets.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are with their Armed Forces and this gives them an opportunity to utilise it in their strategic interest.

Myanmar: Expanding Naval Ties with India

Vijay Sakhuja

Director (Research), Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi E-mail: Sakhuja.v@gmail.com

During March 2013, there was a port call to Vishakhapatnam in India’s eastern coast by the Myanmar Navy flotilla, comprising of a frigate and a corvette. While India is opening up and encouraging such interactions, what is significant about this port call from the Myanmar Navy? Are defence ties between the two countries warming up? Is there a road map to take this forward?

The above port call is significant from two perspectives. First, it showcases the growing trust between the defence establishments of India and Myanmar. The ship visit follows the highly successful visit by the Indian Defence Minister Mr A K Antony to Myanmar in January to ‘bolster defence ties, ranging from better border management to ‘capacity-building’ of the Myanmar’s armed forces’. In the past, the Myanmar Navy has participated in the biennial MILAN exercises hosted by the Indian Navy at Port Blair in the Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

Second, after the port call, the two navies also conducted joint exercises, and engaged in coordinated patrol along the maritime boundary between Myanmar’s Coco Island and India’s Landfall Island, the northern most island of the Andaman group. This is a good development for the two maritime neighbours to address common concerns, particularly illegal fishing, poaching, smuggling, and oil spill response given that these waters witness high shipping activity.

The coordinated patrol should also be seen through the prism of Myanmar-China relations. It will be useful to recall that there had been speculations amongst the Indian strategic community that the Coco Islands were being used by the Chinese to monitor Indian naval activity in the A&N Islands. The coordinated patrolling would at least put to rest suspicions about the presence of Chinese electronic surveillance equipment on the Coco Islands.

Maritime Multilateralism 

The Myanmar Navy has gained enormously from its interactions with the Indian Navy in developing skills and an understanding of bilateral and multilateral naval engagements. Earlier this year, Vice-Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar Defence Services Commander-in-Chief visited Malaysia, the first visit by a high-ranking functionary since 1975. The Malaysian Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, noted that the visit provided ‘a good start towards military diplomacy, not only towards Malaysia but also the ASEAN and Asian nations in general’. The Myanmar Navy was also expected to participate in the Langkawai International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) 2013 exhibition.

Likewise, during his meeting with Rear Admiral Tulataed Chuay, Chief of the Thai Marine Corps in February, the Myanmar Navy Chief expressed an interest in joining Cobra Gold, a multilateral exercise involving the US and Thai Marines. The purpose of the Cobra Gold exercises is to develop inter-operability amongst the military forces, strengthening bilateral relations, collectively respond to crises, and also promoting security and cooperation within the region.

What Does the Myanmar Navy Bring to the Table? 

In 2008, in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, the Myanmar Navy suffered major losses; as many as 25 vessels sank and some reports suggest that 30 officers and 250 naval personnel may have perished. Currently, the Myanmar naval inventory includes a variety of vessels including frigates, corvettes, fast attack craft fitted with missiles and guns, and a number of patrol vessels. The frigates are of Chinese origin, and the missile boats are fitted with the Chinese C 802 (range 120 kilometers). Myanmar has also developed capability, ostensibly with Chinese assistance, to build warships: Aung-zeya class frigates and stealth corvette 8 x Kh-35E anti-ship missilesare good examples. The frigates are fitted with Kh-35E anti-ship missiles, and the corvettes have C 802 SSMs. Reports also suggest that 20 vessels of the ‘5-series Fast Attack Craft’ are under construction at the Navy’s dockyard, as also in the privately owned Sin-ma-laik Dockyard in Yangon. The bulk of the Myanmar Navy is built around smaller craft for coastal patrolling, and its ability to respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief is limited.

Sanjay Gandhi’s Maruti sought to bat for British plane, says U.S. cable

P. J. George

The Maruti company, in which Sanjay Gandhi had major stakes, actively sought, and was rumoured to have got, the role of agent for the British Aircraft Corporation in its sales efforts in India during the 1970s, according to Kissinger-era U.S. embassy dispatches obtained and released by WikiLeaks on Monday.

In a cable dated July 7, 1976 (1976NEWDE09954_b, Secret), the U.S. embassy in New Delhi said a “British Aircraft Corporation team that visited India to compete agains[t] Dutch and American aircraft suppliers was approached and offered the assistance of the Maruti company, a firm controlled by Sanjay Gandhi.” According to the Americans, “BAC replied that something could certainly be worked out.”

The cable was sent by the embassy in response to a State Department request for a comprehensive assessment of India’s anti-corruption laws to work on an “international agreement on illicit payments.”

In 1976, negotiations were going on in two major aircraft deals: Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft (DPSA) for the Indian Air Force and twin-jet commercial aircraft for Indian Airlines. BAC was in the running for both. The Jaguar — manufactured by SEPECAT, a joint venture of BAC and the French firm Breguet — was the eventual winner of the DPSA race with French firm Dassault’s Mirage and the Swedish Saab-Scania’s Viggen fighter. In the Indian Airlines negotiation, the competition was among BAC 111-474, U.S. firm Boeing’s 737-200, and the Dutch Fokker’s F-28 Mark 4000.

While no American firms were in the running for the DPSA due to the U.S. arms embargo on India and Pakistan at the time, the commercial aircraft sale was a different ball game. The U.S. embassy was desperately trying to swing the deal towards Boeing by prodding the Exim Bank of the U.S. to provide favourable financing to the Indian government, as is evident from a series of cables on talks among embassy, State Department, Boeing and Exim bank officials. The embassy was keeping a close eye on the offers from BAC and Fokker and Sanjay Gandhi’s apparent involvement with BAC made it nervous.

In a cable dated July 30, 1976 (1976NEWDE11152_b, Confidential), the embassy says it “understands Maruti (in which Sanjay Gandhi has interest) is negotiating for BAC agency in India.” By August 27, the Embassy has “heard unconfirmed rumors that Maruti also repsents [sic] BAC” (1976NEWDE12666_b, Confidential). It rues that “these and perhaps other political factors, none of which seem to favor US procurement, could have a bearing on the final outsome[sic].” The embassy implicates all other countries involved in the two deals by stating in its July 7 cable that “Dutch, Swiss and French firms are equally know[n] for their willingness to make contributions.”

Boeing ultimately won the Indian Airlines deal, based on the 737’s technical superiority and well-arranged financing — if separate cables on the negotiations are to be believed.

Maruti and Cessna

The Americans’ understanding that the involvement of Sanjay Gandhi, or anyone related to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, could load the dice in any deal is further evident from a cable dated August 27, 1976 (1976NEWDE12666_b, Confidential) on K.L. Jalan, Managing Director, Maruti Heavy Vehicles (P) LTD., requesting “embassy assistance in arranging a meeting with the president or high level official of Cessna aircraft to discuss the sale of Cessna aircraft in India”.

Jalan claims that “his firm has an immediate [sic] sale for two aircraft with a very promising outlook for 20 more units by fiscal year-end”. Jalan also makes it a point to state that the company is “owned by Sanjay Gandhi (son of Prime Minister), Sonia Gandhi (Sanjay’s sister-in-law) and J.K. Jalan,” prompting the Embassy to suggest to the State Department that “Cessna be informed immediately on sales opportunity… but that company be [briefed] on background of Maruti and implications of any association with company”.

Thatcher, Chandraswami and I

K. Natwar Singh

How a future Prime Minister of Britain warmed to the godman with an Indian diplomat playing the reluctant translator

India House is among the better known diplomatic establishments in London. I first set eyes on the imposing building in 1952, when I was a student at Cambridge University. Thirty years later I entered India House as Deputy High Commissioner. One of my less attractive duties was to meet the unreasonable demands of visitors from India. Not all were disagreeable but many were.

Early in the summer of 1975, Mr. Chandraswamy telephones me. He was in London. The late Yashpal Kapoor had asked him to contact me, Chandraswamy invited me to meet me at his place. I said if he wished to see me, he should come to India House. This he did the next day. At the time he was in his late twenties. He was in his “Sadhu” attire. He did not speak a word of English. Now he does.

At this, our first meeting, he dropped names. After a few days he again come to see me. He invited my wife and me to have dinner with him.

The food was delicious. After dinner he said to us, “I will show you something you have never seen”. He then produced a large sheet of white paper and drew lines from top to bottom and left to right. Next he produced three strips of paper asked my wife to write a question on each strip, make a ball and place each one on a square on the chess board. My wife wrote the questions in English. He closed his eyes and went into a trance. I was, by this time getting restless. Suddenly he asked my wife to pick up any of the paper balls. She did so. Opened it. Chandraswamy then told her what the question was. He was spot on. My wife, who is an amateur astrologer, was sceptical at this stage. When Chandraswamy got the next two questions right, she was amazed and interested. I was intrigued. I could not, as a rationalist, accept mumbo-jumbo. Neither could I dismiss Chandraswamy as a complete hoax.

A few days later Y.B. Chavan, the then External Affairs Minister was on his way to the United States. I went to meet him at London’s Heathrow airport. He confirmed he knew Chandraswamy well. I also told Chavan that Chandraswamy had asked me to arrange a meeting with Lord Mountbatten and also with Mrs Thatcher. Should I arrange these meetings? To my discomfiture and surprise, Chavan sahibsaw no harm in Chandraswamy meeting Lord Mountbatten or Mrs Thatcher.

I rang up Lord Mountbatten. He said he would have been glad to meet “your friend”, but he was leaving for a holiday in Northern Ireland the next day. I was quite relieved. I informed Chandraswamy. What about Mrs Thatcher?

She had been elected leader of the Conservative Party six months earlier. Doubts still assailed me about Chandraswamy meeting Margaret Thatcher, not yet the iron lady. Suppose Chandraswamy made an ass of himself. I would look a bigger ass. I sought an appointment with the Leader of the Opposition. She promptly obliged. I met her in her tiny office in the House of Commons.

Her response was, “If you think I should meet him, I shall. What does he want to see me for?” “That he will tell you himself,” I said. She agreed to see him in her House of Commons office early the next week. “Only ten minutes, Deputy High Commissioner,” she announced. I thanked her and left.

Chandraswamy was on cloud nine when I gave him the news. I cautioned him not to do or say something silly. I was putting my neck on the line for him. “Chinta mut kareay, (don’t worry”) said the sage. So, to the House of Commons the two of us proceeded. Chandraswamy was dressed in his “sadhu” kit, with a huge tilak on his forehead and a staff in his right hand. Rudraksha malas round his neck. He banged the staff on the road till I told him to stop doing so. I confess, I was feeling self conscious. Not Chandraswamy. He relished the attention he was inviting. Finally we reached Mrs Thatcher’s office. With her was her Parliamentary Private Secretary, Adam Butler, M.P. son of Rab Butler, the Conservative leader.

Why India is right on Sri Lanka

Hardeep S. Puri

Unless Colombo treats its Tamil citizens with dignity and respect, New Delhi will continue to have limited options

Contemporary developments in India’s foreign policy are often based on perceptions and not facts, views divorced from reality and political advocacy based on make-believe. India’s approach to the Sri Lankan issue and the vote in the Human Rights Council (HRC) is a case in point. Variously described as a “new low” in our foreign policy and a departure from our principled stand of not supporting country-specific resolutions, this line of reasoning suggests that New Delhi should ignore and overrule regional sentiment, and refrain from meddling in the affairs of a small neighbour.

But first the perceptions. One, in 1956, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (SWRD) Bandaranaike enacted the Sinhala-Only Act. Sections of the political class in New Delhi welcomed it as a consolidation of anti-imperialist sentiment. Years later, Tamils were reduced to second-class citizens and discrimination against them became systemic and entrenched. The anti-Tamil riots in Colombo following the killing of the Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duriappa, by a young Prabhakaran led to the rise of Tamil militancy.

Perception two. Most Sinhalese believe, with good reason, that Tamil militancy, rightly viewed by them as terrorism, would not have succeeded in tearing apart Sri Lanka’s social fabric but for support from across the Palk Straits. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi sought course correction. He committed India to Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity. This fundamental turnaround meant India would not support the break-up of Sri Lanka and would also cooperate in ending support for terrorism. There was, however, one caveat. The Tamil minority should be treated with dignity and as equal citizens of a multicultural, multiple-ethnic and multilingual Sri Lanka.

Resolution was minimalist

What the international community is questioning is not Colombo’s military operation against the LTTE or human rights violations but specific allegations of war crimes during the last 100 days of military operations. Visual documentation, including by triumphant victors on mobile phones has contributed to Sri Lanka’s discomfort. The U.S. resolution at the 19th session of the HRC in March 2012 was a minimalist attempt. It invited Sri Lanka to act on the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Even the assistance to be made available to Colombo would have been provided only with its consent. Instead, Colombo chose to prevaricate. With additional visual documentation being made available, the demand for accountability gained momentum. Having voted in favour of the resolution in March 2012, it was next to impossible for India to change its vote in March 2013, especially in the absence of any credible steps by Sri Lanka towards reconciliation and devolution.

It is both in India’s and Sri Lanka’s interest to get a full and final closure on these allegations. Not to do so will allow the wounds to fester.

Sovereignty has never succeeded in providing a cover against genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. To suggest that India does not support country-specific resolutions is absurd. Even more, that we have a principled position on this. In any perceived clash between principle and national interest, it is invariably the latter that is invoked and reigns supreme. Following the anti-Tamil riots in Colombo in 1983, New Delhi mustered sufficient courage to spearhead a resolution against Sri Lanka in the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities. We vote in favour of similar resolutions against Israel only because they deal with gross and systematic violations of human rights of Palestinian people in the occupied territories. We have never hesitated to take a position on country-specific resolutions whether on DPRK or Iran, whenever our national interest so demanded.

To dismiss popular sentiment in Tamil Nadu as the machinations of politicians is both a misreading of the situation and a recipe for disaster. Why should Sri Lanka not be held to account for not respecting understandings given bilaterally to India, such as those of April-May 2009?

13th Amendment

India can be against the LTTE but cannot afford to be against the Tamils. The problem both amongst the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka and large sections of the Tamil population in India, is that the LTTE successfully manipulated Tamil opinion by projecting itself as the only physical shield against Sinhala repression. We cannot wish away this sentiment. The only safeguard for the Tamils in Sri Lanka is delivery of the promised devolution based on the 13th Amendment.

The Kissinger Cables: Rajiv Gandhi Was "Entrepreneur” for Swedist Jet

POSTED BY Buzz 
ON Apr 08, 2013

The Hindu, in investigative collaboration with WikiLeaks, has accessed a new set of U.S. diplomatic communications, The ‘Kissinger Cables, from an earlier but highly turbulent period in India's political history: the early-to mid-1970s that comprise more than 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic records for the period 1973 to 1976, relating to a period when Henry Kissinger was the U.S Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford Administrations. The first major revelation from these set of cables, as revealed by the Hindu is that much before he joined politics, 'Mr Clean" Rajiv Gandhi "may have been the “main Indian negotiator” for a massive aircraft deal for which his “family” connections were seen as valuable for the Swedish company Saab-Scania, when it was trying to sell its Viggen fighter aircraft to India in the 1970s".

An October 21, 1975 cable from the New Delhi U.S. Embassy (1975NEWDE14031_b, confidential) says:

1. THE SWEDES HERE ARE ONCE AGAIN OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THEIR CHANCES OF SELLING THE VIGGEN TO THE INDIAN AIR FORCE. THE SAAB SCANIA SALES MANAGER AND THE CHIEF TECHNICAL ADVISOR, THE FORMER ACTING COMMANDER OF THE SWEDISH AIR FORCE, RETURNED TO NEW DELHI TEN DAYS AGO FOR CONFERENCES WITH THE INDIANS. THE TECHNICAL ADVISOR IS STILL HERE AND WILL REMAIN AS LONG AS NECESSARY TO HANDLE QUESTIONS FROM THE NEW INDIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AND NEW IAF CHIEF OF THE STAFF, BOTH OF WHOM ACCORDING TO OUR SWEDISH COLLEAGUE, REQUIRE TIME TO BRIEF THEMSELVES ON THE COMPETING FIGHTERS. CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 NEW DE 01909 061554Z

2. THE SWEDES HERE EXPECT THAT THE IAF WILL SEND A TEST PILOT TO SWEDEN TO FLY THE VIGGEN SINCE THE CURRENT MODELS COMING OFF THE LINE ARE AIRWORTHY. HE TELLS US THE INDIANS HAVE ACCEPTED THE EXPLANATION FOR THE WING STRUCTURAL DEFECT WHICH TEMPORARILY GROUNDED THE EARLY MODELS.

3. THE SWEDES BELIEVE THEIR MOST TELLING POINT, HOWEVER, IS THE LONGEVITY OF THE AIRCRAFT. THEY SAY THEY HAVE CON- VINCED THE IAF THAT THE REPLACEABLE AVIONICS PACKAGES IN THE VIGGEN RENDER IT CAPABLE OF PERIODIC MODERNIZATION WITH THE RESULT THAT IT WILL BE VIABLE UNTIL 2000 (WHICH SOUNDS A BIT FAR FETCHED TO US). OUR SWEDISH COLLEAGUE SAID THE PROPOSAL CONTINUES TO BE THAT THE INDIANS BUILD THE AIRFRAMES AND POSSIBLY SOME ENGINES OR ENGINE COMPONENTS, BUT THE SWEDES PROVIDE THE AVIONICS. SINCE THE INDIANS WANT "THE BEST", ACCORDING TO OUR SWEDISH CONTACT, THE IAF REGARDS THE AVIONICS AS VITAL. MOREOVER, THE SWEDES WOULD NOT CONSIDER SELLING THE VIGGEN WITHOUT THE "BLACK BOXES." THESE FACTORS, THE SWEDES ASSERT, GO A LONG WAY TO OFFSET THE DISADVANTAGE OF RELATIVELY HIGH INITIAL UNIT COST. ANOTHER INDUCEMENT, AS SEEN BY THE SWEDES HERE, IS THAT SAAB SCANIA HAS COMPLETED ITS SURVEY OF INDIAN EXPORTS AND CONCLUDED IT COULD MARKET SEVERAL ITEMS IN SWEDEN OR THE WEST MAKING A BARTER TYPE ARRANGEMENT AT LEAST FEASIBLE FROM THE SWEDISH POINT OF VIEW.

4. THE SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER IS DUE ON A VISIT TO NEW DELHI CIRCA MARCH 1. THE SWEDES ARE BRACED FOR ANOTHER INDIAN APPEAL FOR CREDIT WHICH OUR COLLEAGUE SAYS SWEDEN WILL NOT GRANT, BUT HE DID SAY THE MINISTER WOULD STRONGLY SUPPORT THE VIGGEN SALE. OUR COLLEAGUE WOULD NOT SAY WHAT OTHER CONCESSIONS THE SWEDES MAY BE CONSIDERING. 5. THE SWEDES HERE HAVE ALSO MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY INFLUENCES IN THE FINAL DECISION IN THE FIGHTER SWEEPSTAKES. OUR COLLEAGUE DESCRIBES RANJIV GANDHI IN FLATTERING TERMS, AND CONTENDS HIS TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IS OF A HIGH LEVEL. THIS MAY OR MAY NOT BE. OFFHAND WE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A TRANSPORT PILOT NOT THE BEST EXPERT TO RELY UPON IN EVALUATING A FIGHTER PLANE, BUT THEN WE ARE SPEAKING OF A TRANSPORT PILOT WHO HAS ANOTHER AND PERHAPS MORE RELEVANT QUALIFICATION. CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL

India abstains and exposes the Arms Trade Treaty


April 8, 2013

Once again India has been forced to abstain from voting in favour of a discriminatory global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) – after its unpleasant experience with the NPT and the CTBT in the past. The treaty, aimed at laying down common international standards and limiting the illicit sale of conventional arms, was passed by the UN General Assembly with an overwhelming majority of 154 votes on April 3, 2013. Iran, North Korea and Syria voted against the treaty while China, India and Russia abstained.

As the largest importer of arms in the world1, India objects to the ATT on several counts. First and foremost, India finds it difficult to accept that the treaty will enable arms exporting countries to impose unilateral conditions on the countries that import arms. The treaty has failed to address Indian concerns about the illegal transfer of arms to terrorist organisations, insurgent groups and other non-state actors who oppose democratically elected governments. The treaty also does not ensure a “balance of obligations” between arms exporting states and the importers of arms.

As a country with a pacifist strategic culture, India has traditionally abhorred the export of arms and itself refrained from doing so for several decades after independence. India has 39 Ordnance factories, which are wholly government owned, and eight Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs). India’s defence exports are less than two per cent of the total production of weapons and equipment and were valued at USD 191 million (Rs 859.60 crore) in 2008-09. These are mainly indigenously produced surplus small arms and light weapons that have been supplied to some of India’s neighbours as a goodwill gesture. However, the new Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) and the new Defence Production Policy (DPrP) are encouraging the formation of joint ventures with 26 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI). This is expected to go up to 49 per cent, gradually resulting in an increase in arms exports as MNCs will begin to use their Indian joint ventures as hubs for sourcing weapons and equipment components for their factories abroad.

India is likely to spend approximately USD 100 billion for the import of weapons and defence equipment over the next 10 years. The DPP stipulates an offsets commitment of 30 per cent of the total value of a contract if it exceeds USD 66 million (Rs 300.00 crore). In fact, the offsets obligation specified for the multi-mission, medium-range combat aircraft (MMRCA) is 50 per cent of the total value, which is estimated to exceed USD 12 billion. Assuming that 60 to 70 per cent of the import contracts will exceed USD 66 million, defence MNCs exporting to India will be required to procure items worth approximately USD 18 to 21 billion from Indian companies over the next 10 years by way of direct and indirect offsets. Even though the items that may be exported by these MNCs and joint ventures will be mainly components and not fully assembled weapons system, India needs to ensure that the stipulations of the ATT do not bar such exports.

South Asia is arguably the second most dangerous global hotspot after West Asia and radical extremism in the Af-Pak area is making the region further dangerous. One of the major reasons for this is the large-scale proliferation and easy availability of small arms and light weapons (SALW). India has witnessed around 152 militant movements since independence, of which 65 are believed to be still active in one form or the other. Pakistan is still the primary source of small arms that are India bound. It uses SALW as political and military tools against New Delhi and facilitates smuggling of SALW both through sea and land routes to ISI-supported terrorist organisations and sleeper cells across India. Funding for SALW proliferation can be accredited to money laundering and safe havens abroad organised through hawala channels. The transfer of small arms takes place mostly through clandestine routes and the grey market.

Red Star Over the Indian Ocean?

By J. Michael Cole
April 9, 2013

Attack submarines from the Chinese navy are becoming increasingly active in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and could pose a “grave threat” to Indian interests there, a report by the Indian defense ministry said last week.

Using subsurface contact information reportedly shared by the U.S. military, the report, prepared by the Integrated Defence Staff, said that at least 22 contacts had been made in the IOR in the past year alone, with the latest incident occurring in February. As India is confident that only two navies in the region — the U.S. Navy and the Indian Navy — have the capabilities to engage in such activity, the Indian military concluded that the boats involved were very likely from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

Indian media said the report proved that a fleet of Chinese nuclear submarines was making “frequent forays into the Indian Ocean.”

According to the report, titled Indian Navy: Perceived Threats to Subsurface Deterrent Capability and Preparedness, the “implicit focus” of the PLAN appeared to be undermining the Indian Navy’s ability “to control highly sensitive sea lines of communication” within the region. For the time being, however, China’s intent more likely was to determine the Indian Navy’s ability to detect undersea objects. The report added that the PLAN’s “extended patrols may fully overlap with the Indian Navy’s area of operation.”

The focus of such deployments, the report said, was the IOR, a sea area that spans from waters off the Horn of Africa to the Malacca Strait and the western shores of Australia.

According to India Today’s coverage of the report, one contact with a suspected Chinese submarine took place 90 km from Indian soil in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while six took place northwest of the Straits of Malacca, 13 south of Sri Lanka and two in the Arabian Sea. The submarines were believed to be from the South Sea Fleet based at Sanya on Hainan Island, off China’s southern coast.

In May 2012, China announced that it could deploy Type 094 nuclear submarines at Yulin Naval Base at Sanya as part of its long-term strategy in the South China Sea. The SSBN will eventually be outfitted with outfitted with the JL-2 Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs).

The number of confirmed contacts mentioned in the report represented a marked increase from four year ago, when U.S. intelligence reportedly revealed that China’s fleet of more than 50 submarines had carried out 12 “extended patrols” outside its territorial waters in 2008, up from six the previous year. Reports then did not indicate where the extended patrols were said to have taken place, though it can be assumed that some occurred near or within the IOR.

Kissinger Cables

Rajiv Gandhi was ‘entrepreneur’ for Swedish jet, U.S. cable says
Murali N. Krishnaswamy

Revelation contained in Kissinger-era documents obtained by WikiLeaks

Much before he became Prime Minister, during his years as an Indian Airlines pilot, Rajiv Gandhi may have been a middleman for the Swedish company Saab-Scania, when it was trying to sell its Viggen fighter aircraft to India in the 1970s.

The astonishing revelation that he was the “main Indian negotiator” for a massive aircraft deal for which his “family” connections were seen as valuable, is contained in the Kissinger Cables, the latest tranche of U.S diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and accessed by The Hindu as part of an investigative collaboration. The cables will be released on Monday.

The British SEPECAT Jaguar eventually won the race, from which Saab was forced to withdraw by the U.S.

Rajiv Gandhi, who kept away from politics until he was pushed into it by his mother Indira after the death of his brother Sanjay in 1980, came into public life with a squeaky clean image. Years later, a controversy over bribes paid in another military deal with a different Swedish company, Bofors, was to lead to Rajiv’s and the Congress’s defeat in the 1989 elections.

A series of 41 cables between 1974 and 1976 give glimpses into the “fighter sweepstakes” in India, with one wryly observing that the Swedish company had “understood the importance of family influences in the final decision in the fighter sweepstakes.”




Special Arrangement Viggen fighter aircraft.

Dassault, the French aircraft maker, too had figured this out. According to the cable, their negotiator for the Mirage fighter aircraft was the son-in-law of Air Marshal O.P. Mehra, then Air Chief.

An October 21, 1975 cable from the New Delhi U.S. Embassy (1975NEWDE14031_b, confidential) details information given to it by a diplomat in the Swedish Embassy. “Mrs Gandhi’s oler [sic] son’s only association with the aircraft industry (to our knowledge) has been as a pilot for Indian Airlines and this is the first time we have heard his name as entrepreneur.”

Having noted what the Swedes had said, the cable makes the comment that there was no additional information to either refute or confirm the information.

The cable goes on to say, “Mrs Gandhi (according to the Swedish info) has made the personal decision not to purchase the British Jaguar because of her prejudices against the British. The decision would be between the Mirage [Dassault Mirage F1] and the Viggen.”

Importance of ‘family’

In another cable (1976NEWDE01909_b, confidential), the Swedes also made it clear they “understood the importance of family influences” in the final decision. The cable adds: “Our colleague describes Ranjiv Gandhi [sic] in flattering terms, and contends his technical expertise is of a high level. This may or may not be. Offhand, we would have thought a transport pilot [is] not the best expert to rely upon in evaluating a fighter plane, but then we are speaking of a transport pilot who has another and perhaps more relevant qualification.”

The first cable adds that Air Marshal Mehra’s son-in-law was the chief negotiator for the competing Mirage, but it does not give his name.

Pakistan Elections- A Preview

Paper No. 5451 Dated 7-Apr-2013

By B.Raman

1. The forthcoming Pakistani elections to the National Assembly on May 11,2013, should be of close interest to India. Will the elections pave the way for another five years of civilian rule uninterrupted by Army intervention or will there be new instability prompting the Army to intervene? It is too early to answer this question, but certain issues need to be underlined.

2.Despite the usual ups and downs in Indo-Pakistan relations which come in the way of normalisation of bilateral ties, one has to acknowledge that the five years of rule by the coalition headed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) saw a new mindset in Islamabad marked by a loosening of the historic obsession with the Kashmir issue. It is no longer Kashmir or nothing. The PPP-led Government showed a willingness to give a try to past suggestions from India and others, including the US and China, not to oppose progress in other issues such as bilateral trade by continuing to make the bilateral relations a hostage to the Kashmir issue.

3. While the Pakistan Army under Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff, continued to regard India as the main threat to Pakistan and did not relent in its attempts to undermine any Indian role in Afghanistan, it did not come in the way of the attempts of the civilian Government to improve bilateral relations in other fields.

4. Indian attempts to encourage the signs of a new mindset in the Pakistani leadership were thwarted by the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the lack of sincerity and seriousness in the Pakistani leadership in acting against Hafiz Mohd Sayeed, the Amir of the LET, and other Pakistan-based masterminds of the 26/11 strikes in Mumbai. The recent violation of the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir by the Pakistan Army and its brutal beheading of an Indian soldier added to suspicions that the Pakistani military leadership continued to give primacy to its traditional policy of keeping India bleeding in J&K.

5. Despite these negative factors, two seemingly positive factors need to be noted. The first is the absence of any major act of terrorism by ISI-sponsored jihadi organisations in Indian territory outside J&K after 26/11.The second is the similar absence of ISI-sponsored attacks on Indian targets in Afghanistan.

6. One would have thought that the ISI-sponsored organisations, particularly the LET, would have exploited the unhappiness among sections of the Muslim community over the execution of Afzal Guru, one of the perpetrators of the attack on the Indian Parliament in December,2001, to revive mass fatality terrorist attacks in the Indian territory outside J&K. This has not happened. There is so far no credible evidence of any Pakistani hand in the recent terrorist incident in Hyderabad.

7. One has to be alert to the possibility of a reprisal attack by the LET and the Karachi-based Dawood Ibrahim group to avenge the recent confirmation by the Supreme Court of the sentences passed against the perpetrators of the March 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, which marked the beginning of the ISI attempts to spread jihadi attacks to Indian territory outside J&K. There would be need for special security caution in Mumbai and Gujarat. There could be attempts by jihadi elements – indigenous or LET-orchestrated--- to discredit Narendra Modi as he emerges as the possible next Prime Minister by disturbing internal security in Gujarat.

Private Approval, Public Condemnation: Drone Warfare’s Implications for Pakistani Sovereignty

Brian Glyn Williams 

Terrorism Monitor - Volume XI, Issue 7

The latest contribution to the debate over the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan came from Ben Emmerson, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights after three days of meetings with Pakistani officials in mid-March. When the meetings were over Emmerson’s office issued the following statement, the UN’s loudest condemnation of the CIA’s drone assassination campaign in Pakistan to date: 

[Pakistan] does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. As a matter of international law the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another State without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. Pakistan has called on the U.S. to cease its campaign immediately. [1] 

A cursory read of the statement presents a very stark picture of a sovereign nation being invaded by U.S. drones presumably flown from Coalition-controlled Afghanistan. Pakistani officials, it can be inferred, are united in their strong opposition to these violations of their territorial sovereignty. 

However, this simple black and white image of a bullying American superpower violating international law fails to capture the complexities of America’s drone campaign in Pakistan or its relations with Islamabad. Far from being a simple case of aggression, the Pakistanis have covertly supported the drone campaign since its inception in 2004. An exploration of the true nature of U.S.-Pakistani relations in regards to the murky drone campaign reveals a grey world of Pakistan-based CIA drones, joint Pakistani-American counter terrorism operations and official (but private) Pakistani government and military support for the drone campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. 

The Drone War and Secret Pakistani Support 

The first CIA drone assassination in Pakistan was of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Nek Muhammad in 2004. Muhammad and his followers had become the dominant force in the South Waziristan tribal agency in the previous three years. Having defeated the Pakistani army on several occasions, his followers then overturned Pakistan’s laws and strictly enforced Shari’a in what became known as “Talibanistan.” Muhammad was clearly a threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty and President Musharraf subsequently admitted that he allowed the United States to carry out drone surveillance inside Pakistan’s territory (Express Tribune [Karachi], December 3, 2010). While Musharraf later stated that he did not give the United States permission to use the drones to kill militants like Muhammad, one Pakistani daily called his retroactive disavowal of the campaign “greatly suspect” (Express Tribune [Karachi], December 23, 2010). 

In 2008 Musharraf was replaced as president by Asif Ali Zardari, whose wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by a suspected Taliban suicide bomber. Musharraf returned to Pakistan on March 24 after five years of self-exile, apparently with a revisionist view of the drone issue more in line with the government’s official position: “No country is allowed to violate another's sovereignty like the U.S. did in this case. Pakistan's authority was harmed, how can I approve of such a thing?... I'm against these drone wars. It's also an infringement on our sovereignty. If the U.S. wants to fight terrorists with drones, they should provide us with the corresponding technology so that we can carry out that fight” (Interview with Spiegel Online, March 26). 

Zardari, however, seemed to be willing to stand by the Americans and the war on the terrorists who threatened his state, even if it cost him some popularity among his own people. Zardari referred to the Taliban as a “cancerous” threat to Pakistan and told Washington he would “take the heat” if the United States launched a cross-border raid to get a high value target like Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri (Dawn [Karachi], May 26, 2011). In that year the drone war stepped up drastically from one or two strikes a year to 36 strikes. 

Subsequently, however, Zardari claimed that the drone strikes were “counter-productive and violated Pakistan’s sovereignty” (The Nation [Islamabad], March 26). This perfunctory statement was obviously meant to garner the support of Pakistanis who strongly disliked the idea of a foreign power operating with impunity on their own soil, killing what many believe are almost exclusively innocent Pakistani citizens. Many Pakistani voters wanted their leaders to publicly stand up to the American “invaders.” However, Zardari was said to have secretly told the Americans: “Kill the seniors. Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.” [2] Zardari also told a group of Pakistani reporters in Lahore “There are no differences between Pakistan and the U.S. over any issue, including drone attacks.” (Daily Times [Lahore], January 21, 2010). He also made a plea for the United States to “give me the drones so my forces can take out the militants.” In that way, Zardari suggested, “we cannot be criticized by the media or anyone else for actions our army takes to protect our sovereignty.” (Dawn [Karachi], May 20, 2011). 

Teething pains for the Afghan army

Azam Ahmed

AP An Afghan Army soldier secures the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The force, in tactical infancy, is often out-manoeuvred by the Taliban

Through the crackle of the hand radio, the Taliban fighter could be heard screaming at his comrades, berating them to strike from their mountain hide-outs and kill the infidel forces gathered nearby.

A burly Afghan Border Police commander, eavesdropping on the enemy’s open-channel communication, chuckled and decided to stir things up.

“If you are a man, you don’t need to yell,” the commander spoke into his radio, as a circle of Afghan army soldiers giggled. “Why don’t you come out, you thief, and fight us face to face? What cave are you hiding in?”

Startled, the insurgent on the other end blurted: “I’m strong with the love of God! I’m going to heaven.”

“Donkeys don’t go to heaven, usually,” the commander replied, stroking his henna-dyed beard, eliciting another round of laughs.

As Afghans begin taking the lead from U.S. forces this year, each mission the new Afghan National Army takes on will be a step toward answering critical questions about the country’s fate.

Can Afghan forces effectively fight the Taliban after the Americans are gone? And can they gain the support of local leaders and populations so critical to that fight?

The challenges were highlighted over the weekend, after a sprawling and drawn-out battle between Afghan forces and a Taliban stronghold was resolved only after nearby U.S. forces called in an airstrike, leading to civilian casualties as well.

A recent week with a well-regarded Afghan army unit in Kunar province showed that radio trash-talking was hardly the only difference with the U.S. way of war. While the unit generally acquitted itself well in combat, logistical and political challenges were evident.

Notorious stronghold

The operation was characterised by Afghan and U.S. military commanders as one of the biggest of its kind yet in Kunar: a search-and-clear mission centred on the village of Damdara in Ganjgal Valley, a notorious Taliban stronghold where an insurgent ambush killed nine Afghans and four of their U.S. Marine advisers in 2009. This time, no Americans would be in sight at any stage.

Instead, the Second Brigade of the Afghan 201st Corps, considered one of the army’s best units, was leading the charge. Army commanders coordinated with multiple police and intelligence agencies, as well as Afghan civilian officials, spending nearly a week conducting reconnaissance and drawing up elaborate terrain models to prepare for the mission.

The terrain itself would play a major role this day. Ganjgal Valley is picturesque, but treacherous, with high ridges arrayed in a horseshoe around the village, perfect for shielding ambushes.

Cut into the hills that lead up to the mountains are terraced fields, dry and brittle with small green shoots peeking through the rocky soil. Stones cover the base of the valley like the bed of a river.

More than 350 Afghan security force members gathered around the perimeter, some given the task of searching the village for fighters and weapons, other assigned to the ridges to confront any ambushes at eye level.

They did not have to wait long. The forces in the heights came under fire almost immediately from an opposing ridgeline northwest of the village the one vantage point the army did not control. Dozens of fighters were firing.

China's submarines in Indian Ocean worry Indian Navy

Hindustan Times New Delhi, April 07, 2013

An increasing number of Chinese submarines venturing into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) pose a grave danger to India’s security interests, a classified defence ministry document has revealed.

Chinese submarines in Indian Ocean. HT Photo

Citing subsurface contact data shared by US forces, the document said at least 22 contacts were recorded with vessels suspected to be Chinese attack submarines patrolling outside Beijing’s territorial waters last year.

It has warned that the “implicit focus” of the Chinese navy appears to be undermining the Indian Navy’s edge “to control highly-sensitive sea lines of communication”.

The document, titled ‘Indian Navy: Perceived Threats to Subsurface Deterrent Capability and Preparedness’, has been prepared by the Integrated Defence Staff whose mandate includes advising the government on developing force levels and capabilities. It predicts intense rivalry between the two navies in the next three years as China ramps up its strategic manoeuvres.

The Gwadar port, seen as the latest example of China’s ‘String of Pearls’ — strategic attempts to surround India with facilities that can be upgraded to naval bases — also has the navy worried. The port, located in southwest Pakistan, is operated by China.

The Chinese navy’s “extended patrols may fully overlap with the Indian Navy’s area of operation,” the document said. The IOR stretches from the Horn of Africa to the Malacca Strait and southwards to the western shores of Australia.

It also cautions against the Chinese navy building up “expeditionary maritime capabilities” in the form of nuclear-powered submarines and area denial weapons (anti-ship ballistic missiles) “with deployment focus in the IOR”.

The document warned that the Dwadar port would “facilitate enormous command and control capability for prospective Chinese presence in the IOR”.

China has set up a network of ports/facilities in Bangladesh (Chittagong), Myanmar (Sittwe and Coco Island), Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Pakistan (Gwadar) and has also secured docking rights in Seychelles, in what some describe as the culmination of the ‘String-of-Pearls’ strategy.

Experts, however, think the strategy is overrated and will not dilute India's influence in the region.

"Converting a port or token port facilities into a naval base is a huge leap. I don't think China can do that," said strategic affairs expert Rear Admiral (retd) Raja Menon. "Also, any country that allows China to do that will risk India's enmity."

Similarly, defence analyst Commodore (retd) Uday Bhaskar said, "The suggestion that China is strangulating India with a 'String of Pearls' is an exaggeration."

CHINA BUILDS THE BIGGEST PORT IN AFRICA

Strategy page 
 April 8, 2013: 

China is investing $10 billion to build a new port at Bagamoyo (northwest of Dar es Salaam) and improve infrastructure related to the port improvement. This will make it possible to greatly increase trade. This mainly consists of shipping raw materials to China and bringing Chinese manufactured goods in. Among the imports will be most of the components for the ports and Chinese mines and other infrastructure projects in the region. The new port will be able to handle 20 million cargo containers a year. The current port facilities at Dar es Salaam can only handle 800,000 containers a year. New roads and railroads will connect to existing road and railroad networks and these will also undergo upgrades. This will make Tanzania the main port for raw materials coming out of, and goods going into of Malawi, Zambia, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. This makes Tanzania a major East African shipping destination because Bagamoyo will become the largest port in Africa and one of the biggest in the region (which includes the Persian Gulf.)

Although China made it clear that these facilities will not be used by the Chinese Navy, Chinese firms will run (as well as build) the facilities and getting an agreement from Tanzania to allow Chinese warships to come by for supplies and shore leave should not be a problem.

The Chinese government has refused several navy requests for overseas bases, but as more Chinese warships operate in the Indian Ocean, and off East Africa, there will be a need for ports where these can reliable obtain fuel, supplies and some repairs. What better port than one run by a Chinese company. China has a similar deal with Pakistan, where the port of Gwadar (located near the Iranian border) is being upgraded by China. The Chinese plan to also build a naval base that would be used by Pakistani and Chinese warships and aircraft. This would be a Pakistani naval base, which the Chinese Navy having access.

Unveiling China’s defense budget

Posted By Kevin Baron
April 8, 2013

China's defense spending is often the cause of heartburn and confusion in Washington, but top analysts argued Monday that the U.S. should spend more time examining the People’s Liberation Army’s rate of growth, its strong commitment to military modernization, and its mixed message to foreign powers about its intentions.

China is spending more on high-tech, yet unproven systems, such as stealth fighers, in an effort to keep up with the Pentagon. But that ambition is eating at its wider budget, said James Mulvenon, director of Defense Group, Inc.’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. Additionally, he said, the cost for PLA personnel has risen from about one-third of its budget to roughly one-half, in an effort to increase the quality of the Chinese force.

China, last month, released its annual public disclosure of its military spending at $119 billion. That compares to roughly $526 billion in defense spending that President Obama reportedly will request for fiscal 2014, according to Bloomberg. There was little fear on Monday about what China plans to do with its military, and even a tepid appreciation that China has become more transparent and willing to talk about its intentions. But U.S. analysts remain frustrated that Beijing continues to say one thing, but do another, with the PLA.

“The defense budget issue is just one of dozens of examples where Chinese strategic communications have failed to ameliorate its regional neighbors, to ameliorate the concerns the United States has,” Mulvenon said, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “In fact, I would argue that never before has there been greater cognitive dissonance in our relationship with China.”

Mulvenon said China is “completely outdated” in not matching its messaging with its deeds, especially in today's in modern media world.

“It is difficult to maintain an anti-piracy task force in [the Horn of Africa], and yet continue to claim stridently that you will never have overseas bases, when clearly the replenishment requirements of doing that require you to find some sort of a hybrid solution.”

“We’re looking at an explosion of naval construction,” Mulvenon said, “that again …will have to be explained. And it can’t be explained simply as defense of the motherland if, in fact, you are engaging in wide-ranging global deployments.”

Andrew Erickson, associate professor at the Naval War College, pointed to China’s sustained growth rates, which he claimd reached an annual average of 16.5 percent in the last decade and leveled off at 10.4 percent in 2011.

“Over the past decade, these double digit nominal increases have quadrupled spending, and they have made the PLA budget second in size only to that of the U.S. military budget,” he said, “albeit several hundred billion dollars less.”

“The PLA budget’s growth rate is truly the envy of the U.S. and its allies, whose defense budgets are either stagnating or declining absolutely,” he said, with Japan being the rare exception, having a 0.8 percent growth increase in defense spending.

Although the realities of China’s actual capabilities, which lag far behind the U.S., remain unimpressive to many in Washington, Erickson said Americans are mistaken to compare Chinese military hardware to any “gold standard.”

“How good is good enough?” Erickson said. “Look at the sheer amount of resources and programs that China is throwing out there. It may not all be efficiently spent, but no other major country with the possible exception of the U.S. is able to do this.”

China has seven major military shipbuilding programs, for example, and is sustaining multiple aircraft development programs.

The “sheer dynamism” of that effort, compared to any other country outside of the U.S., Erickson said, was “striking.”