10 April 2013

Ferocious, Weak and Crazy: The North Korean Strategy

April 9, 2013 

By George Friedman

Editor's Note: George Friedman originally wrote this Geopolitical Weekly on North Korea's nuclear strategy on Jan. 29. More than two months later, the geopolitical contours of the still-evolving crisis have become more clear, so we believe it important to once again share with readers the fundamentals outlined in this earlier forecast.

North Korea's state-run media reported Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the country's top security officials to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures," which has been widely interpreted to mean that North Korea is planning its third nuclear test. Kim said the orders were retaliation for the U.S.-led push to tighten U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang following North Korea's missile test in October. A few days before Kim's statement emerged, the North Koreans said future tests would target the United States, which North Korea regards as its key adversary along with Washington's tool, South Korea.

North Korea has been using the threat of tests and the tests themselves as weapons against its neighbors and the United States for years. On the surface, threatening to test weapons does not appear particularly sensible. If the test fails, you look weak. If it succeeds, you look dangerous without actually having a deliverable weapon. And the closer you come to having a weapon, the more likely someone is to attack you so you don't succeed in actually getting one. Developing a weapon in absolute secret would seem to make more sense. When the weapon is ready, you display it, and you have something solid to threaten enemies with.

North Korea, of course, has been doing this for years and doing it successfully, so what appears absurd on the surface quite obviously isn't. On the contrary, it has proved to be a very effective maneuver. North Korea is estimated to have a gross domestic product of about $28 billion, about the same as Latvia or Turkmenistan. Yet it has maneuvered itself into a situation where the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea have sat down with it at the negotiating table in a bid to persuade it not to build weapons. Sometimes, the great powers give North Korea money and food to persuade it not to develop weapons. It sometimes agrees to a halt, but then resumes its nuclear activities. It never completes a weapon, but it frequently threatens to test one. And when it carries out such tests, it claims its tests are directed at the United States and South Korea, as if the test itself were a threat.

There is brilliance in North Korea's strategy. When the Soviet Union collapsed, North Korea was left in dire economic straits. There were reasonable expectations that its government would soon collapse, leading to the unification of the Korean Peninsula. Naturally, the goal of the North Korean government was regime survival, so it was terrified that outside powers would invade or support an uprising against it. It needed a strategy that would dissuade anyone from trying that. Being weak in every sense, this wasn't going to be easy, but the North Koreans developed a strategy that we described more than 10 years ago as ferocious, weak and crazy. North Korea has pursued this course since the 1990s, and the latest manifestation of this strategy was on display last week. The strategy has worked marvelously and is still working.

Five Indian soldiers killed as rebels ambush convoy in South Sudan

Aman SethiNew Delhi Bureau

This Google Maps screenshot locates Jonglei in South Sudan where five Indian soldiers on a U.N. peacekeeping mission were killed on Tuesday.

Five soldiers of the Indian Army were killed and four injured in an ambush on Tuesday morning of their United Nations peacekeeping mission by unidentified assailants in South Sudan. Seven civilians also perished in the ambush that began at 9 a.m. and continued for over an hour.

Lt. Colonel Mahipal Singh, Havaldars Heera Lal and Bharat Sasmal, Naib Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal and Sipahi Naval Kishore were killed as they escorted a 32-member convoy near the settlement of Gumuruk in Jonglei State. According to agency reports, the convoy was en route to Bor when it was struck by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.

Some members of the convoy are yet to be accounted for. Last month, an Indian soldier was shot at and injured in the same region.

A U.N. spokesperson declined to share details of the nature of the convoy or the number of people missing.

In a telephone conversation, Col. Saurabh Mishra, Commanding Officer of the 6 Mahar regiment in Jonglei, declined to comment as he was focused on evacuating those killed and injured.

The bodies of those killed would be brought back to the country, said official sources in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony lauded the bravery of the slain soldiers and conveyed his grief to their families.

Hilde F. Johnson, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in South Sudan, condemned the attacked “in the strongest terms,” a U.N. release said.

A contingent of 2,200 Indian Army personnel are deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). While one group is based in Malakkal on the border with Sudan, the other one is deployed in Jonglei. Elsewhere on the African continent, Indian troops are involved in peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.

“The U.N. peacekeepers were deployed in certain parts of Jonglei, where there is some insecurity,” said Jonglei’s Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk. “Whenever there was any disturbance, the civil population would run to the U.N. camps where they felt secure.”

“The peacekeepers did not engage in any combat, but were friendly and peaceful towards the populace,” he said. A U.N. official confirmed that the peacekeepers conducted regular patrols of the troubled region but were not involved in combat operations.

Jonglei is the largest and most populous State in South Sudan, a country carved out its northern neighbour in 2011 after a brutal civil war spanning many decades. Post-independence, the State has been roiled by inter-ethnic conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities. The conflict has since escalated into a full-blown insurgency led by Murle leader David Yauyau who, the South Sudanese believe, is backed by the government of Sudan. Sudanese officials have repeatedly denied these allegations.

Last week, the U.N. urged South Sudan’s government to protect communities in Jonglei, even as representatives of France, Canada, Norway, the U.S. and the U.K. expressed concern that military conflict, lack of infrastructure, seasonal migration and deterioration of law and order were putting civilian lives at risk. About 17,000 people have been displaced in Jonglei due to the current conflict, according to the U.N.

Apart from providing peacekeepers, India also has significant economic assets in the two countries. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Ltd (OVL) has a stake in South Sudan’s oil fields. It has constructed and financed a 741-km pipeline in the north from the Khartoum refinery to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Vivekananda’s legacy of universalism

K. N. Panikkar

He believed that no religion was superior to another. There can be no meeting point between his message and that of the sangh parivar

A variety of activities is in the offing to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s immense contribution to the making of India as a nation. The occasion: the 150th birth anniversary of Swamiji. Seminars, workshops, publications and such other means to perpetuate his memory and assess the significance of his contribution form part of the celebrations. Strangely, at the forefront of this celebration are the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its front organisations. Strange because Vivekananda hardly had anything in common with the sangh parivar, except being Hindu by birth.

Devoted Hindu, not communal

The ideology of the sangh parivar is rooted in religious hatred and Swamiji stood for social harmony and inter-faith dialogue. There can be no meeting point between these two. Yet, the Hindu fundamentalists trace their lineage to the neo-Hindu movement of which Vivekananda was the central figure. None of his observations on Hinduism, unless taken out of context, seems to give credence to the proposition that he had a communal outlook. He was a devoted Hindu, passionately involved in bringing about cultural and spiritual welfare of the people. He indeed realised that changes were necessary but he was unhappy about the course the reform movements had followed. He decried the primacy ascribed to caste in concepts and practices of social reform movement. Any attempt to find a solution, he believed, “was a difficult task, because religion had become rigid and inflexible,” on the one hand, and obscurantist and superstitious, on the other.

It is only in the light of early reform movements — their success, failures and limitations — that Vivekananda’s quest for a resurgent India could be assessed. By the end of the century, almost all early movements had lost much of their vigour and following. The decline in the reform atmosphere paved the way for the emergence of a powerful spiritual leader. This void was filled by Swamiji, by initiating a movement, based on individual worship in place of collective –congregational worship which Ram Mohan Roy and his contemporaries had favoured. The organised religious reform movement was an anathema to him, although he himself started one, though of a different order, which was based on compassion, social service and humanitarianism.

Vivekananda’s plan of action was not limited to the religious realm. He was equally sensitive to social and economic issues. In other words, Hindus should strive towards a total transformation and inclusive growth. Caste is omnipotent in Indian society but he discarded it without any hesitation. He had observed the working of the Brahmo Samaj and that experience seems to have coloured his general attitude to all reform movements. By the time Vivekananda came on the scene, except in a few pockets like Kerala and Punjab, reformation had lost its vitality. He believed that reform had already run its course. By the last quarter of the 19th century, the religious movements had almost vanished, even if popular religion was on the ascendant. To the Indian middle class which formed the social base of these movements, he had choicest epithets: “cursed by the wheels of divisions, superstitious, without an iota of charity, hypocritical, atheistic cowards,” etc.

This is not to argue that Vivekananda did not recognise the importance of the contributions of the middle class in creating an atmosphere of reform. Instead, he took great pride in what the Brahmo Samaj had already accomplished in the social and religious life of people.

Spirituality alone was not the only concern of Vivekananda. He spent a major part of his life travelling, which undoubtedly influenced his world view. He was particularly sensitive about poverty and the inhuman caste practices. He prophesied that, one day, the Shudra would rule. The stark reality of caste oppression in Kerala made a lasting impression on his mind.

The process of Indian reformation had three facets. The first was a liberal modernising phase in which reformers like Ram Mohan Roy attempted to change some of the traditional practices. The second was a rejection of all that was alien to society, and an attempt at indigenous mode of modernisation. The third was to build an alternative model of modernity which would embrace the traditional and the modern. The path chosen by Vivekananda was the third. The first group was that of the reformers for whom he had undisguised contempt, dismissing them as babu reformers. The conservatives and traditionalists formed the second group. The members of this group were mired in superstitions and ritualism. Swamiji’s method of reform was not merely advocacy of reform, but also through constructive social work.

The central idea in the life and teaching of Vivekananda was religious universalism. In the eyes of those who believed in universalism, there was no difference between the followers of different religions. All religions are universal — equal and true. Vivekananda, however, argued that in Hinduism, universalism found ideal articulation. And was hence a leader in spiritual matters. Equally important was his notion of social service for which he set up the Ramakrishna Mission. The mission gave an entirely new ambience to reform.

Rahul Gandhi’s dragon cliché

Ananth Krishnan

The Congress vice-president would do well to ponder why China has outperformed India on every social and economic indicator

In his speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on April 4, 2013, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said his advisers had told him to “not go into the India-China cliché.” Mr. Gandhi should have paid heed to them. For the heir-apparent of a major political party — and a possible prime ministerial candidate — Mr. Gandhi, during his more than an hour-long interaction, came across as worryingly ill-informed about a country that is not only India’s biggest neighbour and single largest trading partner, but also set to emerge as possibly India’s most important, and difficult, diplomatic challenge in the next decade.

“There is no complexity in China,” he declared, going on to present an anecdote which, he suggested, reflected life in the People’s Republic. “A friend of mine who came from China, an Italian guy, was in shock,” he recounted. “He said, ‘I was in a bus in China. A bus hit a man. The driver picked up the man, put him on the side of the road and we carried on’.” “There is no complexity there,” Mr. Gandhi concluded. “Simple, [China] is.”

Mr. Gandhi used this rather strange anecdote to make the claim that as India and China were fundamentally different countries, their development experiences and growth stories could not be compared. Hit-and-run incidents are no more commonplace in China than they are in India, and arriving at a simple conclusion about a billion people based on the testimony of one foreign visitor would be a misguided venture in either country

“There are two types of systems, centralised and decentralised,” he argued. “China is a centralised system. They call it, the dragon. You can see it, it is very clear. It is big, it is powerful, it builds big structures that are visible.” India, he went on to say, was “a beehive.” His apparent argument was that unlike China’s centralised and organised development model, India’s growth story was entirely a bottom-up process driven by creative energy and the spirit of entrepreneurship, and not by the state.

The real lesson

There was much about Mr. Gandhi’s rather sweeping and simplistic characterisation of what he called the “India-China cliché” that does not bear scrutiny. The argument that a decentralised democracy slows development and hinders the delivery of good governance, and that China’s remarkable growth story over the past three decades was more the result of a strong one-party state than any other factor, has been made frequently — including by China’s own ruling Communist Party, as well as sections of India’s business elite with cases of China-envy.

This is despite the fact that the widely popular perception of China’s economic development being the outcome of an entirely top-down, State-driven, centralised process has been disproven by compelling evidence to the contrary. The ubiquitous caricature of China’s growth story — decades of double-digit growth and rapid State-led infrastructure development driven by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and a thriving export sector — is limited to the country’s experience in the 1990s. As economists such as Huang Yasheng of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and others have pointed out, China’s growth story began a decade earlier in the 1980s preceding the infrastructure boom.

As Mr. Huang has argued convincingly, growth in the 1980s was as much “bottom-up” as “top-down,” driven by rural entrepreneurs who benefited from the loosening of State controls, more liberal policies and decentralisation. China’s record of reducing poverty, Mr. Huang has shown, was the highest during the 1980s, when the number of poor fell by 154 million. The following decade of FDI-led growth saw a reduction in the number of poor by a relatively fewer 62 million. China’s growth in the 1980s was underpinned by investments in human capital — in boosting health care and education. That, according to Mr. Huang, is the real lesson from China’s growth story – not a superficial fascination with skyscrapers and high GDP.

India and China certainly have vastly different political systems. A strong party-state has, no doubt, allowed China to enact policies rapidly. Yet, one-party rule has also imposed huge burdens on China’s development. Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s, which claimed more than 30 million lives, and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), set China back by at least a few decades. Today, China’s political model is seen, even in Beijing, as stifling innovation and creative industries. No sensible person would suggest following China’s authoritarian model, which would have no place in India’s diverse and plural society — a stark contrast from China’s Han-dominated society which offers far from adequate protection to minorities.

Comparing social indicators

Mr. Gandhi was, however, wrong to dismiss out of hand the lessons from China’s growth story, and to simply attempt to explain away India’s development problems using questionable assumptions, rather than put forward new ideas or a vision for the future. Mr. Gandhi, correctly, mounted a passionate defence of India’s pluralistic and democratic political system. But implicit in his comments was the troubling suggestion that the expectations of people in decentralised, “beehive” India could not be held to the same levels as those in centralised, authoritarian China. Foreigners who were “driven crazy” by India’s chaos could succeed in doing business “even on the moon” if they succeeded in India, he said almost proudly, rather than suggest how he might perhaps help improve the environment for business and investment.

He would do well to ponder why China has done far better in providing its people with basic necessities, why China continues to outperform India on every social indicator; and most importantly, and why the gap between both countries has widened — and not narrowed — following a decade of the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) rule. According to the United Nations Human Development Report, China is far ahead of India on social indicators ranging from life expectancy (73.7 years against 65.8), mean years of schooling (7.5 years against 4.4), adult literacy (94 per cent against 74 per cent), under-five mortality (19 per 1,000 against 66) and maternal mortality (38 per 100,000 against 230).

Mr. Gandhi has, as yet, not put forward any concrete vision for addressing India’s many domestic challenges, let alone those on the external front. While he acknowledged China’s rising national power in his speech, he offered no ideas as to how India should respond to the challenge even as China continues to spread its economic and political influence, including in India’s neighbourhood.

Instead, he appeared almost content with a notion of “Indian power” that was reflected in the fact that “there are people doing yoga in New York, dancing around” and that “you go to a nightclub somewhere in Spain and there is Amitabh Bachchan on the screen, dancing around.” Mr. Gandhi would do well to pay closer attention to a country that India will have no choice but to engage with increasingly, as the world’s second-largest economy and a neighbour that cannot be wished away. The work of economists like Mr. Huang, rather than the unreliable testimony of an Italian tourist on a bus, might perhaps be a good place to start.

Optimising Teeth to Tail Ratio

The concept was first applied to the US forces during World War II to highlight the enormous expenditure being incurred on logistic infrastructure to maintain supplies to the Allied Forces from production bases in the US. The term soon caught the fancy of military thinkers the world over and came to be used loosely to indicate how streamlined the structure of a military was.The concept was not meant to be a measureof combat effectiveness but was used primarily to demand downsizing of armed forces by reducing surplus manpower to affect savings after World War II. Today, the concept is being variously applied to buttress skewed demands for pruning of different elements of the armed forces.Despite the fact that the expression has been in use for over half a century, there has never been an agreement on its classical definition. Different commentators use it differently to suit their argument. This in fact is the biggest weakness of the concept. At the base level, it is considered to be the ratio between the bayonet strength and non-bayonet strength in a combat unit, implying thereby that the effective fighting potential of a unit is totally dependent on the number of personnel it can field with bayonets. All other personnel form part of the tail.

It has been universally experienced that more intricate and sophisticated our weapon and communication systems become, more is the number of technical personnel required for keeping the equipment ‘battle worthy’. Thus, we are faced with a real dilemma of a need for creating a logistics organisation, which is both flexible and highly responsive to the operational requirements, both in peace and war and is also compact enough to subscribe to the theory of a small tail. The logistics chain of the Field Force is an area where some reduction in manpower numbers is still possible, combined with corresponding reductions in stocking levels of FOL, rations and spares with arrangements to push forward the required stores quickly when necessary. The inventory of some equipment like ‘B’ vehicles could also be reduced to some extent as these are now being mainly procured indigenously directly from the manufacturers. As these companies also sell similar models in the market, it should be possible for them to commit stepped up production at short notice to meet rising demands of the armed forces during national emergencies. Similarly, various other aspects of logistics support must be critically examined so as to cut the flab and streamline the supply chain. It is encouraging to note that the Army HQ has taken several initiatives to improve the archaic logistics system that goes back to World War II. In response to a question regarding the steps that the army proposes to take to enhance logistics support and reduce costs, the then Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen S. Patabhiraman, (Retd), stated “There is always an effort to improve the teeth-to-tail ratio of the army by reducing the logistics tail. Dependence on dedicated logistics units needs to be reduced gradually by deploying logistics nodes and centralised repair and maintenance facilities on a grid basis. Further, due to induction of more and more COTS technology equipment, infrastructure and facilities ex-trade have to be made use of to cut down the size of logistics units. The fruits of development are reaching the fringes of our border states resulting in availability of better infrastructure, which the army too can harness for its logistics needs. The availability of medical facilities in border areas could help in reducing the size of integral field medical units. Similarly, today the trade is even prepared to maintain and repair equipment well forward under most difficult conditions; this could help in reducing the size of integral engineering support workshops. Better rail and road communication infrastructure in forward areas will also help in reducing the logistics tail. This concept of teeth to tail ratio unfortunately has been misinterpreted at times and tail is misunderstood as indicative of the supporting services only. In the real essence the tail encompasses the large number of personnel deployed for administrative duties other than the bayonet strength. There is also the need to optimise the tail of each teeth and thus reducing the administrative footprints. There is a need to evolve a method to prune down the administrative manpower by outsourcing duties especially in peace establishments. The following needs to be done: -

  • The first and perhaps the most difficult action to take is to categorise all functions into ‘core functions’ and ‘non-core functions’. Logistic activities within an area of operations are also core functions. Mission-criticality must hence be the sole criteria for consideration. Even the definition of non-core functions may have to be changed from support functions to a much larger spectrum to include all non-combat functions.
  • Carry out objective identification of core and non-core functions. Provide maximum resources for core functions to re-engineer the military to acquire new capabilities. Reduce expenditure on non-core functions.
  • Outsource maximum non-core functions. Outsourcing of non-core functions has come to be accepted as the most prudent way to affect savings. Outsourcing in its broadest sense refers to contracting out to external agencies certain services and tasks which were earlier performed with internal resources. Outsourcing facilitates enhanced focus on key functions, restricts size of support elements in the military and saves resources. It also utilises facilities and expertise available in civil sector.
  • Review and right size Ministry of Defence (including all departments), service HQ and subordinate HQ. All entities paid for by the defence budget must be assessed for their need and value. They must be made accountablefor the expenditure incurred by them.
  • Modernise the Defence Planning, Programming and Budgeting System.
  • Implement activity based costing and management throughout the Defence Department.
  • Exit all non-defence activities like military farms and stud farms. Employing civilians in lieu of uniformed personnel does not reduce tail. It merely shifts it elsewhere as they continue to consume defence resources.
  • Upgrade technology and infrastructure.
With the aim to optimise the teeth to tail ratio it is appropriate that only the non-core competencies should be outsourced and not the entire services which may affect the combat efficiency of the field force.

Urban pipe dreams

Asit K Biswas : Wed Apr 10 2013

Urban water services in many parts of India have steadily deteriorated. Two decades ago, urban households used simple carbon filters to clean water or boiled it before drinking. With steadily declining water quality, many households now use reverse osmosis (RO) to purify water for drinking. The population in the cities has grown significantly, and the country is continuing to urbanise. Today, one would be hard pressed to find a single city where people can drink water straight from the tap without any health concerns.

To have adequate sources of water, wastewater must be collected and properly treated before being discharged into the environment. Unfortunately, there is no large Indian city where even 10 per cent of the population has access to good wastewater management. Thus, sources of drinking water are increasingly being contaminated with pollutants.

All these problems have existed for a long time, the solutions are well-known, and the country has had the financial and management capacities to solve these problems for at least the last two decades. Yet the problems persist and are worsening for most major cities. There is no realistic possibility that they will be solved in the next two decades unless the Indian public flatly refuses to accept such abysmal urban water management services.

Governments at the Central, provincial and municipal levels have offered several excuses for this unfortunate situation. It has frequently been said that India is facing a water crisis and there is not enough water to ensure its citizens 24-hour supply. This myth is now widely believed.

Let us examine the facts. For nearly all large Indian cities, leakages and theft from the systems account for 40-60 per cent of water supplied. Even after this colossal loss, the average citizen of Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata uses two and a half to three times the amount of water used by her counterparts in Hamburg and Barcelona, who receive a continuous supply of water, which can be drunk straight from the tap.

An average Indian family in an urban area does not receive a 24x7 water supply. However, they ensure uninterrupted water supply in their households by transforming them to mini-utilities. When water comes for three to four hours each day, it is collected and stored in underground tanks, and then pumped to overhead tanks. Each household has its own water treatment system, which is maintained by the private sector. The quality of the water that these systems provide cannot be ascertained. However, it is highly unlikely that it is clean and safe.

Water received from the municipalities may be free or highly subsidised, but each household pays for electricity to pump water, and then pays the private sector to operate and maintain water treatment systems as well as to clean underground and overhead tanks every few months. This is in addition to investing in the construction of the tanks and installing a pumping system. The current real water cost to an urban Indian family is quite high.

India has the expertise and resources to provide all urban centres of more than two lakh people with clean water supply on a 24x7 basis. Unfortunately, it does not have a single city with a properly functioning water department. Even Cherrapunji, one of the world´s rainiest cities, now has water problems in the summers because of poor management.

Take the Delhi Jal Board. As the city has grown, so have mismanagement of the DJB, regular political interference in its work, corruption at most levels and the lack of accountability among its top executives. The chief executive of the DJB is supposed to be an IAS officer, who may not have any knowledge of water or utilities management. The average tenure of the chief officer is 30-36 months. For the top managers to grasp how to run a utility properly, prepare plans and implement them, it would require a commitment of six to eight years. That is the practice in successful American, British and Canadian utilities.

This has to change. The senior executives of the DJB must carefully be selected for their expertise in managing a large utility, and they must be held accountable for their performance. If not, Delhi will continue to receive sub-standard water services.

There is no reason why cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai cannot have 24x7 supply of good quality water that can safely be drunk straight from the taps. If such cities had efficient and functioning utilities, each household's total water cost could be reduced by 30 to 35 per cent. That would be a boon to poor and middle-class families. Sadly, there are no signs that this is going to happen in the foreseeable future.

The writer is the founder of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico, and distinguished visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore

Failed city? Karachi's violent spiral

By Arsla Jawaid
April 9, 2013 

Last Wednesday night, four members of Pakistan's paramilitary Rangers force were killed when an attacker threw a grenade at their vehicle in Korangi Town, a neighborhood on the east side of Karachi. Despite the Pakistani governmenttouting its historic democratic victory, concern over escalating violence in Karachi, a sprawling metropolis of 18 million people, continues to grow. A permeating sense of instability has only worsened a deteriorating economic crisis, both of which are stark reminders of the failure of the government and security apparatus to maintain law and order in a city that promises to spiral out of control. In light of upcoming elections, it seems likely that the violence will continue to increase.

According to estimates from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, close to 2,284 people were killed in violent attacks in Karachi in 2012. By some media estimates, targeted killings and a string of deadly bomb blasts cost the lives of500 people in 72 days of this year alone. Victims range from civilians to policemen, the paramilitary Rangers to development workers, journalists to lawyers.

Pakistan as a whole has recently witnessed a sharp rise in brutal attacks by Sunni extremists on the minority Shia group, which constitutes close to 20% of the population. These attacks have been concentrated primarily in the southwestern province of Balochistan, but Karachi has seen its own wave of sectarian killing and ethnic strife. The city came to a standstill when on March 3, a powerful blast ripped through AbbasTown near a Shia Imambargah, destroying two apartment buildings and leaving 50 people dead, more than 200 injured, and innumerable homeless.

Law enforcement agencies remained conspicuously absent for up to four hours from an area engulfed by flames after the attack, raising serious questions about the government's commitment to protecting citizens from militant attacks, and the functioning of the city's security apparatus. The mourning families endured further injustice and humiliation when two men were killed and a dozen injured in armed clashes that occurred at the funeral procession a day later. Authorities continue to arrest suspects, and many believe that Sunni extremist groups Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which claimed recent massive attacks on Hazara Shias in Quetta, Balochistan, are behind such incidents.

On March 6, just days after the March 3 blast, the entire city of Karachi was abruptly shut down in a matter of just 22 minutes, during which seven people were killed in separate incidents of violence, gunshots were reported, and people scurried to safely get home. Social media was abuzz with those transmitting real-time updates on areas that were blocked or unsafe to travel. Amid the violence, Karachi's biggest and most influential political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), called for all businesses and educational institutions to remain closed until the Abbas Town culprits were arrested. Most Karachiites were disgruntled by the ‘indefinite' strike, which they feared would damage the city's economy even further. Daily wagers like Shahnawaz Shahzad, a fruit seller near Karachi's area of Lyari, complained, "I have a family of six to feed. This daily business of strikes affects us very strongly. If I can't make a selling, my family has to sleep hungry."

Young, educated and dangerous

Anita Joshua

An analysis of 900 biographies of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives killed between 1989 and 2008 chips at the argument that youngsters in Pakistan take to terrorism out of poverty and deprivation alone

When Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American upwardly mobile son of a retired senior Pakistan Air Force officer was picked up for the bombing attempt at New York City’s Times Square in the summer of 2010, it was seen as an aberration but it chipped at the comforting argument that youngsters take to terrorism out of poverty and deprivation.

Subsequent studies have driven home this disconcerting fact. The radicalisation of Pakistani society was pervasive enough for analyst Ayesha Siddiqa to call it a “social pop culture” in her study of the socio-political attitudes among students of elite educational institutions in 2010.

Another concern that emerged in several attempts to understand terrorism in Pakistan was that it was not peripheral geographically — as in not just confined to the tribal areas adjoining Afghanistan — but flourishing right in the heart of the country, especially Punjab. The Pakistan Security Report of 2010, brought out by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, dwelt on “growing urban terrorism.”

And, more recently, a pre-election survey conducted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute had Central Punjab showing the strongest support for punishment for blasphemy laws, maximum opposition to non-Muslims in public office, and anti-Ahmadi sentiments.

The recent analysis of 900 biographies of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives killed between 1989 and 2008, thus, fits the pattern that has been established though the powers that be in Pakistan seemingly refuse to read the writing on the wall. The LeT cadres were found to be well-educated compared to Pakistani men, and the bulk of the recruitment was from Punjab.

Locations and recruitments

Billed as one of Pakistan’s most “lethal and potent militant proxy groups” essentially focused on “waging a low-level war of attrition in Indian Kashmir,” a vast majority of LeT fighters were Punjabi, not Kashmiri.

As mush as 89 per cent of the recruits were from Punjab and within the province, while a greater number of militants seem to have originated from the areas that border India or are quite close to it. A majority of the militants under the scanner in this study came from densely populated and urbanised districts of the province with Gujranwala, Faislabad and Lahore producing more terrorists than any other district in the country. These are also the locations where the LeT is active and has a lot of infrastructure.

Links with army

Conducted with the support of Combating Terrorism Centre at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, the study does not subscribe to the official narrative that Pakistanis are not involved in acts of terrorism, and only “diplomatic and moral support” is rendered to indigenous mujahideens fighting in India. “There is considerable overlap among the districts that produce LeT militants and those that produce Pakistan army officers, a dynamic that raises a number of questions about potentially overlapping social networks between the army and LeT.’’ “While certainly not the norm, at least 18 biographies in our data set describe connections between LeT fighters and immediate family members (i.e. fathers or brothers) who are currently serving or had served in Pakistan’s army or air force. In several of these cases, the militant’s father had fought with the Pakistani Army in the 1965 war in Kashmir and/or during the conflict in 1971 over the status of then East Pakistan. In one case a militant’s father was described as a senior officer in the Pakistan army.”

China and the Nuclear Suppliers Group

The People’s Republic of China was approved as a participating government at the 14th plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in May 2004. The NSG is a voluntary export control group of nations agreeing to coordinate export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and technology. The original mandate of the 46 nation-NSG is to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports. It has been clearly stated that supplier states under NSG guidelines are not permitted to sell reactors to states that do not adhere to full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

By joining the NSG, China demonstrated its willingness, at least on paper, to undertake necessary steps for combating nuclear weapons proliferation and also put its updated non-proliferation and export control policies into practice for nuclear and dual-use technology transfers. Established in 1975, the NSG, inclusive of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have agreed to voluntary restrictions on nuclear commerce in order to ensure that benign exports do not contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation. China’s addition was viewed as a positive step for the NSG in its endeavours to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology.

China’s State Council announced updating of Chinese export controls on nuclear technology in December 2006, originally issued in 1997, intending to give the government “more control over the end use” of exported nuclear technology. The revised regulations also provided more explicit guidance for importers and exporters of Chinese nuclear technology and spoke of specific penalties for export control violations. Recipients of Chinese uranium-enrichment technology are now prohibited from using it to produce uranium containing more than 20 percent uranium-235. Significantly, the regulation also has the provision allowing Beijing to “suspend” nuclear exports to a recipient in case there is a danger of nuclear terrorism. Besides, in 2002, Beijing adopted regulations governing the export of missiles and related components, as well as chemical and biological materials and related equipment.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Beijing adopted a series of measures to strengthen its export control mechanisms including more comprehensive regulations on export control and an improved legal system for non-proliferation export control. It appears that Beijing wants to balance its non-proliferation objectives with efforts to provide access to emergent nuclear technologies. In December 2003, China issued a White Paper titled, “China's Non-proliferation Policy and Measures,” in which the three principles governing China’s nuclear exports were outlined. These principles stated that a client must: (1) guarantee any technology transferred from China must be intended for peaceful purposes only, (2) accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and, (3) agree not to re-transfer technology to a third party without China’s approval. The Chinese government acknowledged that nuclear and dual-use technology supplied to client states should not be used in an illicit manner.

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.


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.

The postwar order in Asia has rested on the presence and predictability of U.S. power, anchored in a network of military alliances and partnerships. This was welcomed in most regional capitals, first to prevent the reemergence of Japanese militarism, then as a strategic counterweight to the Soviet Union, and then as a security guarantee to Tokyo and Seoul (to remove the need for local nuclear weapons programs) and as a damper on a number of other lesser regional tensions. In recent years, China's rise and the United States' fiscal and economic difficulties had begun to call the durability of this framework into question. A sense of strategic uncertainty and some degree of strategic hedging had begun to emerge in various capitals. The Obama administration's "rebalance" has served as a necessary corrective, reestablishing strategic fundamentals. But by itself, it will not be enough to preserve the peace -- a challenge that will be increasingly complex and urgent as great-power politics interact with a growing array of subregional conflicts and intersecting territorial claims in the East China and South China seas.

China views these developments through the prism of its own domestic and international priorities. The Standing Committee of the Politburo, which comprises the Communist Party's top leaders, sees its core responsibilities as keeping the Communist Party in power, maintaining the territorial integrity of the country (including countering separatist movements and defending offshore maritime claims), sustaining robust economic growth by transforming the country's growth model, ensuring China's energy security, preserving global and regional stability so as not to derail the economic growth agenda, modernizing China's military and more robustly asserting China's foreign policy interests, and enhancing China's status as a great power.

China's global and regional priorities are shaped primarily by its domestic economic and political imperatives. In an age when Marxism has lost its ideological relevance, the continuing legitimacy of the party depends on a combination of economic performance, political nationalism, and corruption control. China also sees its rise in the context of its national history, as the final repudiation of a century of foreign humiliation (beginning with the Opium Wars and ending with the Japanese occupation) and as the country's return to its proper status as a great civilization with a respected place among the world's leading states. China points out that it has little history of invading other countries and none of maritime colonialism (unlike European countries) and has itself been the target of multiple foreign invasions. In China's view, therefore, the West and others have no reason to fear China's rise. In fact, they benefit from it because of the growth of the Chinese economy. Any alternative view is castigated as part of the "China threat" thesis, which in turn is seen as a stalking-horse for a de facto U.S. policy of containment.

What China overlooks, however, is the difference between "threat" and "uncertainty" -- the reality of what international relations theorists call "the security dilemma" -- that is, the way that Beijing's pursuit of legitimate interests can raise concerns for other parties. This raises the broader question of whether China has developed a grand strategy for the longer term. Beijing's public statements -- insisting that China wants a "peaceful rise" or "peaceful development" and believes in "win-win" or a "harmonious world" -- have done little to clarify matters, nor has the invocation of Deng Xiaoping's axiom "Hide your strength, bide your time." For foreigners, the core question is whether China will continue to work cooperatively within the current rules-based global order once it has acquired great-power status or instead seek to reshape that order more in its own image. This remains an open question.

Coal in Asia and the Impact of the Shale Gas Revolution

An Interview with Mark Thurber

March 21, 2013
By Lynann Butkiewicz

This April, NBR and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada will co-host the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit in Vancouver, Canada, on “Forging Trans-Pacific Cooperation for a New Energy Era.” The Summit will explore the role that deeper trade and investment ties between Asia and North America could play in helping Asia meet its energy demand while safeguarding the environment.

In advance of the Summit, NBR talked to Mark Thurber, Associate Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University and an Advisor for the Pacific Energy Summit, on his research regarding the future of coal use in Asia and implications for coal given the development of North American unconventional gas production. Coal has been one of the main energy resources in the United States during the past 30 years because of its abundance and low cost. However, the surge in domestic unconventional gas production has significantly lowered the price of gas, causing natural gas to displace coal in many power-generation plants. As a result, U.S. coal companies are increasingly looking globally—especially to Asia—for a market.

How has the shale gas revolution affected coal use in the United States?

Cheap domestic gas—the result of the revolution in techniques for extracting gas from shale—has led to the displacement of huge amounts of coal in the U.S. power sector. From 1990 through 2010, coal plants supplied 50% of U.S. electricity generation on average. Figures from the Energy Information Administration show that coal’s share of generation has fallen into a tie with natural gas as of April 2012, at 32%. (Tighter EPA rules on mercury and air toxics are further reducing the attractiveness of coal consumption in the United States.) This stunning rise of gas at the expense of coal is a major cause of the 7.7% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions observed since 2006—more than any other country achieved in that period according to the International Energy Agency.

What does this trend mean for U.S. coal production and infrastructure, especially in the Powder River Basin?

If the United States is the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” the Powder River Basin (PRB) is its Ghawar Field—a massive source of cheap supply. With the depletion and associated cost escalation of traditional resources in Appalachia, PRB coal has extended its reach throughout the United States, helped along by railroad deregulation and sulfur restrictions (since PRB coal is very low in sulfur). PRB coal now dominates the U.S. market for steam coal (coal that is used in power plants). But the declining competitiveness of coal as a fuel for electricity generation in the United States leaves PRB coal looking for a more robust market. Asia, especially China and India, could fit the bill.

What are the implications of exports of PRB coal for the global coal market in general and Asia in particular?

The United States has long exported appreciable quantities of coking coal (high–energy value coal used in metallurgical applications) from Appalachia, but large-scale exports of steam coal from the PRB would be a new development. China’s power producers seek low-cost coal imports that can help keep power prices down, and projections show India running a widening coal deficit in the future, which it will need to plug with imports. Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa are the largest exporters to Asia at present. Modeling work at Stanford University’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development suggests that if port constraints are removed and demand from Asia continues to grow, PRB exports to Asia can surpass those of South Africa (though still remaining shy of export totals from Indonesia and Australia).

Are there any potentially limiting factors to the future volume of coal exports from the United States?

The most significant factor standing in the way of PRB exports at present is the absence of port capacity to ship this coal from the West Coast to Asia. Multiple terminals in the Pacific Northwest are on the drawing board, the most significant being proposed sites in Longview and Cherry Point in Washington State. Environmental groups are seeking to block these projects because of the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from burning this coal in Asia as well as possible local environmental impacts of coal transport by rail.

What are the environmental impacts of U.S. coal exports? What will be the tipping point for making coal “cleaner” as a matter of practice?

The environmental impacts of U.S. exports of PRB coal are actually far from clear. To environmental groups like the Sierra Club that are opposed to fossil fuels, blocking coal exports seems like a straightforward way to reduce the total amount of coal burned around the globe. However, if coal is exported to China, and China’s demand is inelastic because of the country’s rapid growth and limited available substitutes, exporting PRB coal could actually lead to a net reduction in greenhouse gases. China would simply be substituting imports for domestic coal and burning the same quantity of coal, while the increased coal price in the United States from higher PRB exports would lead to even more U.S. coal-to-gas switching. This logic probably holds to the extent that exports go to China and the mere existence of available PRB coal does not encourage China to build more coal power plants. If U.S. exports increase available coal supply to countries with more elastic demand, such as India, or if such exports engender confidence that cheap coal will always be available on the international market, the net climate impacts could be negative.

Ultimately, addressing climate change is impossible without either constraining coal consumption or reducing carbon emissions from burning coal—for example, through increased efficiency or carbon capture and storage (CCS). For the most part, the countries that produce, export, and consume coal recognize this fact, and yet there has been little meaningful movement toward reducing coal’s contribution to climate change. In fact, the low cost and ready availability of coal in major emerging markets like China has made coal the fastest-growing source of energy in absolute terms over the last decade—notably fueling China’s breathtaking rise out of poverty. Coal is now the fuel with the largest total contribution to greenhouse gases. It remains unclear what might push the world in the direction of “cleaner” coal or less coal. What is evident is that, for both coal and other fossil fuels, the new position of North America as a major potential exporter to Asia will have a considerable impact on patterns of global energy use and, with them, carbon emissions.

At the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit in Vancouver, we will be discussing the close energy relationship between the United States and Canada in the context of increasing trans-Pacific energy ties. What are the key aspects of this relationship, and what is its effect on the coal market?

The energy systems of the United States and Canada are indeed highly interconnected. Canada has historically exported significant quantities of oil and natural gas to the United States. As both nations develop major new fossil-fuel resources—including oil sands in Canada and shale oil and gas in both countries (though on a particularly large scale in the United States)—there is continued mutual dependence and a need for transporting energy in both directions.

Production of oil and gas from unconventional sources has grown so rapidly that transportation infrastructure to bring these fuels to market has not been able to keep pace. The full Keystone XL pipeline project would bring supply from the oil sands in Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining and onward shipment to customers; a segment of the project already under construction will help relieve crude-oil overcapacity in Oklahoma by adding pipeline capacity to the Gulf of Mexico. The Canadian government has stressed the importance of the Keystone XL project to the U.S.-Canadian energy relationship, while the U.S. government has faced conflicting pressures from oil producers to proceed with the pipeline and from environmentalists to block it.

More generally, Canada and the United States can serve as substitute departure points for a North American energy resource that faces shipping constraints in one country or the other. For example, the proposed Gateway pipeline to British Columbia could substitute for Keystone XL in transporting oil for export. Similarly, PRB coal could leave from Vancouver (or the Gulf of Mexico) instead of Longview or Cherry Point. The interconnectedness of the U.S. and Canadian energy transport networks thereby makes it difficult to “shut in” a resource like coal or oil sands when the economic drivers for export are strong—even if environmental groups wish the situation to be otherwise.

Washington's Secret Weapon Against Chinese Hackers

Applying the Lessons of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation in Cyberspace
April 8, 2013

There are limits to what governments can do about intellectual property theft. It is time to start considering what the private sector can do. After years of pressure, most multinational corporations agreed to build fair labor practices, worker safety, and environmental measures into their supply chains. They should now do the same with intellectual property protections.

Chinese cyberattacks are stealing priceless intellectual property and crucial military secrets from companies and governments around the globe. Negotiations with Beijing are unlikely to help, since China has little interest in cracking down on hacking. So Washington must focus on defenses, not diplomacy.

“The tide of war is receding,” U.S. President Barack Obama proclaimed in October 2011, announcing the impending conclusion of the war in Iraq. In the year and a half since, however, the tide of a new type of conflict has been rising -- one that takes place not on land, in the air, or at sea but in cyberspace. Indeed, in the past several months, the Obama administration has called a great deal of attention to the threat posed by cyberattacks and cybertheft, the most ominous source of which appears to be China. Early last month, the national security adviser, Tom Donilon, said that the cybertheft of confidential information and technology from American businesses has been “emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” and General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, has previously called such theft “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

If recent announcements are any indication, the Obama administration has heightened its focus on cybersecurity threats. In February, the White House published an executive order directed at improving the cybersecurity of the country’s critical infrastructure. That same month, it also unveiled a new strategy for preventing the theft of U.S. trade secrets. One potentially crucial tool, however, has been largely absent from the discussion of how the United States should address cyberthreats: targeted financial sanctions. Given the success of targeted financial sanctions in other contexts -- namely, counterterrorism and efforts to stem nuclear proliferation -- the Obama administration should establish a process for imposing them on individuals and entities that engage in pernicious cyberactivity.

For a number of reasons, targeted sanctions are particularly well suited to address the threats posed by cyberattacks and cybertheft, and they could form an important part of a larger strategy to mitigate the problem. First, for attacks undertaken by states or their proxies, sanctions could serve as a deterrent against future illicit behavior. This is because states, concerned for their reputations, have an interest in preventing their unlawful activity from being exposed publicly. Late last year, for example, both Beijing and the Chinese company Huawei Technologies strongly objected to a report published by the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that accused Huawei and another Chinese company of posing a significant cyberthreat to U.S. national security interests. Huawei went so far as to label the report "an exercise in China-bashing.”

Targeted financial sanctions are also well suited to address illicit cyberactivities perpetrated by nonstate actors. For such actors, public sanctions would not only serve as a deterrent; they would limit their access to the U.S. financial system. The Obama administration has imposed targeted financial sanctions against similar nonstate criminal groups in the past -- such as the Yakuza in Japan, Los Zetas in Mexico, and the Camorra in Italy -- as part of its strategy to combat transnational organized crime. Targeted financial sanctions have also played a major role in weakening al Qaeda over the last several years.

A second reason that targeted financial sanctions would work well in the cyber context is that, unlike reciprocal attacks in cyberspace or the use of military force, they are proportionate in scale to cyberinfiltrations, such as the discreet theft of intellectual property from U.S. businesses, and can be carefully calibrated to produce their desired effect. Sanctions could therefore act as a brake on escalation and add leverage to diplomatic negotiations on cyber issues, which the United States and China both appear to welcome. Finally, if Washington imposed targeted financial sanctions on cybercriminals, the effect of the sanctions would likely reverberate beyond U.S. borders, because financial institutions around the world often refuse to do business with sanctioned entities.


When the U.S. government uses targeted financial sanctions, it identifies actors engaged in illicit activity, freezes their U.S. assets, and prohibits American people and entities from doing business with them. The government’s power to do this is rooted in statutes such as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, which permits the president to declare a national emergency with respect to threats that originate “in whole or substantial part outside the United States” and to impose certain economic restrictions on the source of those threats. Unlike older types of sanctions programs like the embargo against Cuba, targeted financial sanctions are directed only at people and entities that the U.S. government knows are involved in illicit activity. Washington can impose such sanctions on individuals or corporations, including front and shell companies, whether or not they are linked to a state.

The United States has not hesitated to use sanctions against Chinese entities in the past. In July 2012, for example, the U.S. government sanctioned China’s Kunlun Bank for providing financial services to Iranian banks with connections to the country’s WMD programs and sponsorship of international terrorism. Sanctions in the cyber context would, of course, extend beyond Chinese entities, embracing the full range of state and nonstate actors that U.S. intelligence officials have publicly described as posing a cyberthreat to the United States.