13 April 2013

Lessons from Korean bluster

Apr 12, 2013

The world is presently focused on the threat of a nuclear war being unleashed in the Asia Pacific Region (APR) by North Korea. In the last two decades, an impoverished North Korea has threatened war but has been careful only to target South Korea with artillery bombardment, special forces’ attacks or by attacking a South Korean warship like it did a couple of years ago (a North Korean submarine sank the South Korean warship, CheonAne, in the Yellow Sea). Each time the aim has been to get attention or some additional aid from the international community in the form of energy and food supplies. North Korea has prepared two mobile medium-range ballistic missiles (capable of reaching the islands of Japan and Guam) for test firing on its east coast and may conduct its fourth nuclear test. In addition, it has begun reactivating a civil nuclear reactor, which had been shut down in 2008 as part of an earlier agreement involving food and energy aid.

North Korea has a massive military machine comprising one million men, with another seven million men in reserve and 1,350 ballistic missiles. It also has a very large special forces team which can be deployed for covert operations against bordering South Korea. While North Korean military equipment is of 1970s vintage, the South Koreans have a modern military with 500,000 men, a few 1,000-km range cruise missiles which can target all of North Korea with conventional warheads, and Patriot Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMDS) which can destroy the incoming ballistic missiles in the terminal phase, at ranges up to about 30 kms. Japan — located a few hundred miles away — too has very modern military forces and the Patriot BMDS. In addition, the Americans have 22,000 military personnel in South Korea and military units in Japan.

The US military has a multi-layered BMDS. If and when a North Korean ballistic missile or missiles is/are launched, a satellite picks up its heat (infra red) signature and instantly conveys the information to all American, South Korean and Japanese forces. US Navy Aegis warships operating at sea, off the North Korean coasts, will then track the missiles and destroy them with the 200-mile-range SM-3 missile, either in the initial boost phase (when the missile rises from its launch pad), or later in the cruise phase, when the missile is travelling at high speed outside the earth’s atmosphere, en route to the target.

In case a few missiles escape destruction from the SM-3 missile and are headed for the US naval base at, say, Guam Island, then they can be intercepted by a two-layered BMDS on the island. The outer later is based on the 100-mile range THAAD missile which will intercept and destroy the incoming ballistic missile well outside the earth’s atmosphere. The second layer comprises the 30-km range Patriot BMDS, which will intercept and destroy the incoming missiles inside the earth’s atmosphere.

Needless to mention that any such large-scale missile attack on the US military or Japan or South Korea, will invite massive US retaliation by airstrikes, cruise missiles etc. and result in the early destruction of North Korea’s military capability. This in turn may result in a Chinese military intervention, which could spiral out of control and result in a nuclear war in the APR. Hence, what we are witnessing is a classic example of controlled escalation by North Korea which, being totally dependent on China for its food and energy supplies, will no doubt be restrained by China from initiating out an all out war.

The vices of VCs

Apr 12, 2013

Surprisingly, there’s a vast difference between the standards of education in institutions run by the Central government and those run by the state governments. The Central institutions fare better and have better facilities, whereas the state-run institutions, including universities, are suffering because of mismanagement. This scenario is getting uglier by the day.

I have the experience of working in both state and Central universities, and have a first-hand understanding of what’s been happening in this sector over the past several years. On the positive side, there has been huge expansion of both state and Central universities. These universities now produce graduates and post-graduates who don’t just improve their own lives, but also help the nation in its forward march. That’s also why the impact of a steady fall in the standards of state-run universities is all too clear and bothers me immensely.

The scenario is so scary that it is likely to aggravate socio-psychological trauma among the youth. In several state universities, rackets begin operating with the appointment of vice-chancellors. Take the case of a leading university in Andhra Pradesh.

A professor who was rejected once by the selection committee of a university for organising a massive recommendation campaign in favour of his candidature (these campaigns are common these days) got selected. Within just five years of becoming a professor, and without showing any academic improvement whatsoever, he became the vice-chancellor of the same university. This was during YSR’s era.

The same VC then tampered with the seniority list of teachers of his own department — while he was third in the list when he became the VC, he became number one by the time his tenure ended. By doing this, he managed to become the dean, as he had some time left for retirement. While sitting on the admission committee in the capacity of dean, he admitted hundreds of students in the university’s Ph.D programme, which created a problem because there were not enough teachers to guide them.

This is not just one case. The tragedy of our times is that only such self-seekers get to become vice-chancellors in many of our state universities.

The endeavour of vice-chancellors who head universities should be to create an inspiring academic atmosphere, with quality staff. That, however, is usually the last item on their list of priorities. Instead, aspects like how to make money from appointments, how to please ministers and the high and mighty — be it through the recruitment of teaching staff, or the awards of contracts — take precedence over other (worthy) pursuits.

Such vice-chancellors hardly spend their energies in academic pursuit, but stay devoted to the construction of new buildings and repair of old buildings because this is where the money is. So, during their three-year tenure, their main job is accounting.

The result: academics suffer. Teaching and research in many universities becomes a casualty because the academic abilities or competence of the faculty don’t matter, nor do scholarly pursuits. The collusion between the political class and such academic administrators is all too pervasive.

Such VCs breathe politics and are likely to be very active in, say, the Telangana or Samikhyandhra agitations. For such situations come in handy for them to justify the academic anarchy and financial chaos they create in the institutions they head. Disruptive activities can be an effective cover for them to get away with their acts of omission and commission.

Is it any wonder then that those teachers who concentrate on teaching and learning are dismissed as idiots? Teachers who try to engage in academic pursuits are often sidelined and become demoralised, while students mostly learn by themselves to pass the exams.

These are not the only reasons for the total collapse of the education system in our state-run institutions.

State-run universities draw students versed in regional languages, but in colleges teaching takes place in English. In some universities, the option is given to students to write his/her examination in English or in the regional language, while Central universities uniformly adopt teaching and examination in English only. The dual language system in state universities has led to a sharp decline in standards. Even if teachers are serious about and capable of teaching in English, students do not have the language skills to understand what is being taught.

A random selection of students’ answer sheets by an independent committee will prove that there is a huge disconnect between what is written in the answer books and the marks awarded to the candidates.

A good many teachers hang around the administration offices and survive through manipulation of marks in the examination. There is an inbuilt understanding that irrespective of what is written in the script, marks should start from 60 per cent. For students, this works, at least in the short-term, and for teachers this is perfect because it does not force them to read and write, leaving enough time for other activities.

That is why most teachers prefer a VC who has political clout and can get things done easily.
What is the way out? Since this is corruption that hits at the very root of our country’s present and future, a mechanism must be evolved to investigate administrative corruption in universities. The present method of selection of VCs in state universities must also change. The job of appointing VCs in state universities cannot be left entirely to the state’s whims. A national-level mechanism is a must if the overall standards of India’s higher education sector are to improve.

The writer is director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

BEYOND THE SWORD ARM

- Maritime security is not only about naval prowess
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

MK. Narayanan’s spirited demand for “an Indian sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific region” (something that was anathema to Jawaharlal Nehru) recalls the 1946 Cabinet Mission trying to persuade post-Independence India to accept responsibility for defending the “South-east Asia area”. The two are “connected integrally in their political, social and economic life” according to another percipient Keralan, K.M. Panikkar. If so, the most effective defence would be to back India’s “sword arm on the seas” (Narayanan’s term for the navy) with economic integration.

The West Bengal governor did not exclude that in his fourth Admiral A.K. Chatterjee Memorial Lecture organized by the Navy Foundation’s Calcutta chapter. He quoted Pranab Mukherjee on “sea-bound trade requir[ing] the assurance of a complex and well-developed maritime strategy”, and cited formidable trade and shipping statistics to stress the importance of navigable sea lanes. He admitted that “the Indian diaspora facilitates cooperation” with littoral countries and acknowledged that China’s interests are “driven primarily by economics and the need for new resources”. But the emphasis was on the sword arm. India’s strategic thinkers have generally downplayed the part that economics, especially of the coastal regions and diaspora, can play in safeguarding “core national security interests”.

The sighting of Chinese nuclear submarines in Indian waters almost while Narayanan was speaking further emphasized the military dimension. While the sword remains the obvious instrument of defence, there are hazards to making maritime security synonymous with only naval prowess. First, with Indian and Chinese defence budgets of $37.45 and $114.3 billion respectively, and heavy domestic developmental demands on scarce resources, there is no possibility of bridging the gap in the near future. Second, even if India somehow matches China’s ability to project power at sea, that alone will not counter the favourable response to China in all our neighbouring countries. Third, despite a lurking yearning for great power glory, India’s leaders are still trapped in the Nehruvian philosophy, which instinctively disapproves of anything that smacks of militarism or even secular dominance.

Hence the need to make the most of advantages that India does enjoy, such as goodwill, historical links, a maritime tradition, scientific and technological achievements, entrepreneurial skills and what Lee Kuan Yew called in 1966 a foreign policy conducted “on a basis of equality and not on the basis of power relations”. Manmohan Singh’s message at the third India-ASEAN business summit in 2004 recognized the importance of drawing on these assets to forge supplementary initiatives. Approvingly quoting Sinnappah Arasaratnam’s Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, he recalled that India profited from the autonomy enjoyed by littoral states “with little interference from groups that would not have understood the needs and demands of the predominant activity of commerce”. He added that “mutually beneficial business links” between India’s coastal states and South-east Asia would lend meaning to the Look East policy and “eventually give shape to the idea of an Asian Century”. That promised a break with the rigidity that had, 11 years earlier, killed a pioneering initiative by P.K. Kunhalikutty, then Kerala’s industries minister.

A Russia-China Alliance Brewing?

April 12, 2013

By Scott W. Harold and Lowell Schwartz

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's recent summit drew wide international attention. Are we witnessing the dawn of a new alliance?

On March 22nd, shortly after assuming the post of President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping headed off to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Observers were watching the two leaders closely, looking to divine whether or not they could overcome past divisions to achieve a new level of cooperation in bilateral ties. What came out of the two leaders’ meeting and what does it augur for the future of Sino-Russian relations?

Three major areas appear to have been the focus: managing expectations about the relationship; expanding bilateral trade in energy and arms; and cooperation on international security affairs. Drawing on press reports from China and Russia we have attempted to determine how much progress was actually made on these issues at the summit. 

Framing the relationship between Beijing and Moscow is an issue with both domestic and international implications for both countries. Domestically, Beijing’s leaders want to convey to their people that China’s rise is accepted and respected by major world powers. Similarly Russia, whose relations with major Western powers has deteriorated since the re-election of President Putin, appreciates the respect that comes from Xi Jinping’s selection of Moscow for his first visit abroad as China’s new leader.

Bilaterally, both Beijing and Moscow are looking to leverage their relationship to enhance their leaders’ standing domestically and maximize their influence among world powers. At the same time, they hope to avoid the costs they would incur if other states felt the need to counter-balance a renewed bond between Russia and China. Neither party seeks a world where their relationship is viewed as the second coming of the Sino-Soviet axis of the Cold War.

In the realm of bilateral energy trade, China’s goal is to acquire as much cheap and reliable energy as possible without relying too heavily on any single-nation source, which could be disrupted by an unexpected bilateral crisis. For its part, Moscow wants to retain as much leverage as possible over the price of the natural resources it sells and to avoid becoming dependent upon China as a destination for its energy exports.

Even in light of these differences, it is sometimes still surprising how limited energy sector cooperation is between China and Russia, despite Russia’s vast energy resources and China’s rapidly growing needs, the geographic proximity of the two states, and the strategic advantage of having an overland supply route invulnerable to U.S. Navy at-sea interdiction. Russia is just the fourth largest supplier of oil to China, supplying it with only 8% of its total oil imports. There is even less cooperation in the area of natural gas.

CHINA AND THE CENTURY OF HUMILIATION

Strategypage 
 April 12, 2013

China has turned the “Century of Humiliation” (foreign attacks on China from 1839-1949) into a powerful weapon. The “Century of Humiliation” is one of the few things nearly all Chinese can agree on. It was a period in which China was humiliated by Western powers (especially Russia and Britain) and Japan. Since 1949 any Chinese politician could gain some instant popularity by coming up with some way to deliver a little payback for the “Century of Humiliation”. Given that the corrupt communist government of China is quite unpopular, senior officials know they can do something about that, at least until the next corruption scandal featuring one of their peers, by scoring some points against any of the “Century of Humiliation” heavies. Actually, any Western nation will do, but the U.S. is the best target (despite the fact that the U.S. tended to be a “friend of China” during the “Century of Humiliation”). America is the sole world superpower at the moment, so it has to be portrayed as Enemy Number 1 for China.

Russia is given a pass because it is still in China’s interest for Russian to be seen as an ally, not a long-time oppressor. The most prominent local bad guy is Japan, which humiliated China for over half a century (from the late 19th century to 1945). But all of China’s neighbors are guilty of at least some disrespect during the “Century of Humiliation” and must be punished. At least that’s a widespread attitude in China and always good for a rousing media event on a slow news day.

Thus the “Century of Humiliation” and the popularity needs of senior officials does much to drive foreign policy. Take, for example, the many territorial disputes which China has, over the last decade, turned into seemingly dangerous diplomatic and military flash points. The most obvious one is the claims China has made on dozens of unoccupied reefs, rocks and small islands in nearby waters. Recently China declared most of the South China Sea to be part of China because of all those claims. Similar claims with South Korea and Japan have caused these two nations to increase military spending and prepare for more serious confrontations with China. South Korea and Japan have been neighbors with China for the longest time and know how this drill works.

The sad fact is that China has had many “Centuries of Humiliation” in the past and beating on neighbors who had gotten too independent while China was down was always the response of the Chinese once they were back on their feet. The big potential problems are the outsiders (Westerners) who do not truly understand how one must deal with a China that is strong and looking for respect. Misunderstandings could get out of hand. For that reason Western nations pay close attention to the consul of their local allies (especially Australia, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan).

But beyond all this ego maintenance China has economic reasons for its claims on much of the West Pacific. China needs the fish out there as well as any oil and gas under the sea floor. So do the neighbors, but China has more people than all its neighbors (except India) combined. India is a special case because the Indians have nukes and no interest in catering to Chinese demands for respect and deference. Moreover, India is too big (militarily) to bully, as is the case with most of the smaller neighbors. So China is careful not to push India, while being more blunt and aggressive with the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.

KIM JONG-UN: CHINESE CONCERNS & CAUTION

B.Raman, C3S 
April 11, 2013


1. As Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, who completes one year as First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on April 11,2013,uses North Korea’s power of escalatory rhetoric to threaten the region with the danger of a nuclear war if its demands are not met, there is increasing nervousness not only among North Korea’s perceived adversaries such as the US, South Korea and Japan, but also in its traditional friend next door, namely, China.

2. Does Kim realise the implications of the threats which he has been holding out against his adversaries? Does he realise that if he carries out his threats or if he loses control of the situation under the irrational force of his rhetoric, he would be seriously endangering not only the national interests and security of his own country, but also those of North Korea’s traditional friends such as China?

3. Even Fidel Castro, in a recent column for a Cuban paper for which he writes now and then, has pointed out the likely dangers to North Korea’s traditional friends if the situation in the Korean peninsula gets out of control. He has not named the traditional friends of North Korea, but it is apparent he was having in mind China and Russia.

4. The Government and Party-controlled media in China has been increasingly—initially indirectly, now directly— reflecting the concerns in China over the developing situation in the Korean peninsula in the wake of the recent North Korean nuclear and missile tests and the new sanctions sought to be imposed against it under pressure from the US.

5. The Chinese concerns are reflected very clearly in two commentaries carried by the ‘People’s Daily” and the “Global Times”, both run by the Communist Party of China, on April 11, coinciding with the first anniversary of Kim Jong-Un’s leadership of the Party

6. The “People’s Daily” commentary, explaining China’s policy of not allowing trouble-making at its doorstep, said: “Not allowing troublemaking at the doorsteps of China means to stop the vicious circle of tension on the peninsula, to prevent any party from stirring up trouble, to oppose creating tension on purpose, and to say no to render the use of force to resolve the problem. Words and deeds that intensify the tensions on the Korean Peninsula should be condemned and opposed. Not allowing troublemaking at the doorsteps of China is not China’s “Monroe Doctrine”. China does not seek spheres of influence. China intends to maintain regional peace and stability on the Peninsula, and determine its own position and actions in accordance with the Peninsula situation on its own merits. At present, it is not without hope to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula.”

7. The “Global Times” was even more explicit in cautioning North Korea. It said:

“Since the transition of Pyongyang’s leadership, the outside world has been speculating over the future direction of the regime. North Korea is sure to change, because its current situation is unsustainable and is placing huge pressure on the country. Escaping this pressure fits the North’s interests and would allow the country to meet external expectations.

“During the past year, the nuclear issue has remained at the centre of the North’s domestic and foreign policies. The new leadership has shown its resolve, which is to develop nuclear technologies, rather than solve the nuclear crisis. The regime has taken an extreme path.

“Pyongyang should clearly understand that it does not have the capability to dominate the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Its nuclear capacity to some extent makes it feel secure, but at the same time it worsens its international strategic environment. Pyongyang should drop its illusions that it can make the world stay silent over its desire for nuclear arms through its hard-line stance and deceptions.

“The international community will never permit North Korea to have the legal status of a nuclear country, because it would lead to more devastating consequences. A number of Asian countries have acquired nuclear weapons, but none of them use them in the manner North Korea envisions.

“The North Korean regime has to face up to the difficulties in returning to the international community if it refuses to give up its nuclear ambitions. Even if the US and South Korea make concessions, the North still confronts problems such as sanctions and economic obstacles. Concrete moves are needed to solve the current dilemma that the North faces.

“China respects North Korea, but it also holds the responsibility of preserving peace in Northeast Asia. Pyongyang’s nuclear issue concerns China’s national interests. We hope that the North Korean regime can stay rational and pay attention to the interests of the whole region as its bottom line. We also hope that its moves will not pose threats to the peace and stability of China’s north-eastern area.
“North Korea has more difficulties in opening itself up to the world. The stances of South Korea, Japan and the US are partly the reason. Regardless of the situation, we believe the North still has a chance and we regret that it has become mired in this crisis. We hope the crisis is only temporary.”

8.A perusal of the recent comments in the Chinese media indicates that Chinese observers feel there is need for fresh thinking on the question of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capability. It seems to be their view that after all that has happened recently the question of a negotiated de-nuclearisation of North Korea is no longer a viable option. A more practical option could be to work for a freezing of North Korea’s capability at the present level in return for a Chinese offer of its nuclear umbrella to North Korea to calm its fears regarding the US nuclear umbrella for South Korea and Japan.

9. Will such an offer work? The US may not accept any attempt to legitimise North Korea’s present capability as that could create problems in relation to Iran. Moreover, the present North Korean leadership seems determined not to accept any externally imposed constraints on its nuclear and missile capabilities.

10. How to calm the North Korean leadership and de-escalate the situation? The Chinese do not seem to have an answer. They seem to know so little about the mind-set of Kim Jong-Un and his advisers. He has not visited China since assuming office. He had visited China along with his father, but as the ruler of North Korea after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il, he and his advisers have not maintained the same level of contacts with the party and PLA leadership of China as during the days of his father.

11. China is no longer an important and reliable window on North Korea as it used to be in the past. It is as confused by the policies and unpredictability of Kim Jong-Un and his advisers as the US and South Korea. As Kim, who had done his schooling in Switzerland, took over as the supreme leader in December 2011 after the death of his father, there was a fond expectation that his exposure to the West as a student might make him amenable to a policy of gradually opening up his country to the outside world.

12. This has not happened. Is it because he himself is not inclined to pursuing a policy of opening-up or because he is unable to overcome opposition from the old guards in the Army and the Party to any policy change. One has not so far seen in the Party and the Army a new generation wanting to experiment with new policies in the economic field.

13. In the face of a dearth of information regarding the new post-December 2011 leadership in North Korea, China has been finding the recent developments as unnerving as the rest of the international community. Apart from articulating its concerns and caution and expressing its hope that things will not reach a point of no return, China has been finding its ability to influence the developments in a constructive direction limited. (11-4-13)

(The writer, Mr B .Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter @SORBONNE75)

INDIA EXPANDS TO FACE CHINA

Strategypage 
January 28, 2013:

The Indian Army wants $3.5 billion, in order to create three more brigades (two infantry and one armored) to defend the Chinese border. Actually, this new force is in addition to the new mountain corps (of 80,000 troops) nearing approval (at a cost of $11.5 billion). The mountain corps is to be complete in four years. The three proposed brigades would be ready in 4-5 years. By the end of the decade India will have spent nearly five billion dollars on new roads, rail lines, and air fields near the 4,057 kilometer long Chinese border.

The Indian Army currently has 37 Divisions, including 4 RAPID (Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Divisions) Action Divisions, 18 Infantry Divisions, 10 Mountain Divisions, 3 Armored Divisions, and 2 Artillery Divisions. There are also 12 independent combat brigades (five armor and seven mechanized infantry). Most of the army has been organized and trained to fight the Pakistani army in flat terrain. The Chinese border is largely mountainous.

Three years ago India quietly built and put into service an airfield for transports in the north (Uttarakhand) near their border with China. While the airfield can also be used to bring in urgently needed supplies for local civilians during those months when snow blocks the few roads, it is mainly there for military purposes in case China invades again. Uttarakhand is near Kashmir and a 38,000 square kilometer chunk of land that China seized after a brief war with India in 1962. This airfield and several similar projects along the Chinese border are all about growing fears of continued Chinese claims on Indian territory. India is alarmed at increasing strident Chinese insistence that is owns northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. This has led to an increased movement of Indian military forces to that remote area.

India quickly discovered that a buildup in these remote areas is easier said than done. Moreover, the Indians found that they were far behind Chinese efforts. When they took a closer look three years ago, Indian staff officers discovered that China had improved its road network along most of their 4,000 kilometer common border. Indian military planners calculated that, as a result of this network, Chinese military units could move 400 kilometers a day on hard surfaced roads, while Indian units could only move half as fast, while suffering more vehicle damage because of the many unpaved roads. Building more roads will take years. The roads are essential to support Indian plans to build more airfields near the border and stationing modern fighters there. Once the terrain was surveyed and calculations completed, it was found that it would take a lot more time, because of the need to build maintenance facilities, roads to move in fuel and supplies, and housing for military families.

All these border disputes have been around for centuries but became more immediate when India and China fought a short war, up in these mountains, in 1962. The Indians lost and are determined not to lose a rematch. But so far, the Indians have been falling farther behind China. This situation developed because India, decades ago, decided that one way to deal with a Chinese invasion was to make it difficult for them to move forward. Thus, for decades, the Indians built few roads on their side of the border. But that also made it more difficult for Indian forces to get into the disputed areas.

The source of the current border tension goes back a century and heated up when China resumed its control over Tibet in the 1950s. From the end of the Chinese empire in 1912 up until 1949 Tibet had been independent. But when the communists took over China in 1949, they sought to reassert control over their "lost province" of Tibet. This began slowly, but once all of Tibet was under Chinese control in 1959, China once again had a border with India and there was immediately a disagreement about exactly where the border should be. That’s because, in 1914, the newly independent government of Tibet worked out a border (the McMahon line) with the British (who controlled India). China considers this border agreement illegal and wants 90,000 square kilometers back. India refused, especially since this would mean losing much of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India and some bits elsewhere in the area.

Putting more roads into places like Arunachal Pradesh (83,000 square kilometers and only a million people) and Uttarakhand (53,566 square kilometers and ten million people) will improve the economy, as well as military capabilities. This will be true of most of the border area. But all the roads won't change the fact that most of the border is mountains, the highest mountains (the Himalayas) in the world. So no matter how much you prepare for war, no one is going very far, very fast, when you have to deal with these mountains.

India has moved several infantry divisions, several squadrons of Su-30 fighters, and six of the first eight squadrons of its new Akash air defense missile systems to the Chinese border. Most of these initially went into Assam, just south of Arunachal Pradesh, until the road network is built up sufficiently to allow bases to be maintained closer to the border.

All this is another example of the old saying that amateurs (and politicians) talk tactics, while professionals talk logistics. China realized this first and has built 58,000 kilometers of roads to the Indian border, along with five airbases and several rail lines. Thus China can move thirty divisions to the border, which is three times more than India can get to its side of the frontier.

As North Korea Warhead Technology Advances, U.S. Signals Become Crucial

This U.S. Titan missile launch from the 1970s illustrates the kind of liquid-fuel rocket that North Korea might use to attack targets in the U.S. once it has refined its launch and warhead technology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Defense Intelligence Agency is probably premature in finding that North Korea has the ability to launch nuclear warheads over long distances on its ballistic missiles. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper indicated as much yesterday, saying other intelligence organizations such as the CIA did not share the agency’s view.

Even the frequently hawkish DIA is hedging its bets, saying it has “moderate confidence” in its findings and describing the reliability of Pyongyang’s fledgling strike capability as “low.” However, there isn’t much doubt about the direction in which the world’s last Stalinist state is headed, and U.S. military planners will have to respond to the emerging threat — which may already include the ability to target U.S. bases in the Western Pacific.

Pentagon planners have been secretly assessing the feasibility of preemptive strikes against North Korea’s nuclear complex for years. You don’t need inside information to make that statement, because it is common knowledge that the defense department maintains war plans for dealing with a wide range of potential scenarios. U.S. nuclear forces could quickly eliminate the North Korean threat, but such weapons would only be used in response to unambiguous evidence that a North Korean nuclear attack was imminent.

Since timely warning of such aggression might not be available and U.S. use of nuclear weapons would have momentous geopolitical consequences, the preferred option in a preemptive strike would be to rely on conventional (non-nuclear) weapons. The U.S. has a wide array of precision-guided missiles and bombs deployed near North Korea, and Pyongyang’s primitive air defenses might not detect their launch from submarines or stealthy aircraft until the weapons hit intended targets. Some of those targets, such as liquid-fueled rockets, are highly vulnerable.

But we don’t call North Korea the hermit kingdom for no reason. So little is known with certainty about its nuclear program that preemption using conventional weapons would have to be deemed a risky option. Attacking known leadership sites would be even riskier, potentially provoking a general war on the Korean Peninsula while leaving the North Korean chain of command intact. Pyongyang’s extreme secrecy about everything bearing on its security makes the quick success of any non-nuclear strike by U.S. forces doubtful.

So in addition to bolstering America’s active defenses against ballistic missiles — the subject of my Forbes blog last week — U.S. leaders need to think through what new steps might be taken to deter North Korean aggression. Deterrence is the strategy of dissuading enemies from undesirable behavior by threatening unacceptable consequences. I used to teach the subject atGeorgetown University, so I have devoted a fair amount of time to thinking through its requirements.

The main problem in applying deterrence to North Korea is that it is essentially a psychological strategy, so you need to understand how your adversary thinks to influence his behavior. North Korea’s throwback regime often seems to behave in nonrational ways — at least from the viewpoint of outsiders — and that raises concerns about the limitations of deterrence in a Korean context. Deterrence theory is thought to be especially weak when dealing with enemies who are irrational or accident-prone.

However, experts in the U.S. intelligence community think there is an underlying logic to the behavior of North Korean leaders that reflects the peculiar political culture of their country. These experts view Pyongyang’s bellicose statements as the effort of a young and untested leader to establish his credentials with key elites, especially the military. They also think the statements are a reaction to economic sanctions that neighboring states imposed on the North after recent weapons tests — probably with the goal of getting those states to rethink their actions.

At the very least, we can assume that whatever Pyongyang says is in some manner aimed at preserving the power of the present regime. Since it opted for bellicosity over conciliation in its pronouncements, the obvious response was for America and its allies to respond with their own displays of resolve. But that brought such a harsh reaction from the North Korean capital that the Obama Administration decided any further ratcheting up of regional military power was probably counter-productive.

Indian-Israeli Defence Cooperation: The Elusive Strategic Partnership – Analysis

By Richard A. Bitzinger (April 11, 2013)

Indian-Israeli defence cooperation is mainly based on Israeli arms sales to India, which are increasingly critical, in military and economic terms, to both countries. However much Israel might like to expand this cooperation into a larger strategic partnership, India appears content with keeping this relationship limited and tactical.

DEFENCE COOPERATION has always been a low-key but essential element in relations between Israel and India. While most of this cooperation has taken place below the radar of international affairs, it has nonetheless been critical to the expansion of ties between these two countries since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in 1992.

At issue – particularly for Israel – is whether growing military ties can cement a broader “strategic partnership” between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

A symbiotic relationship?

Most of this cooperation has taken the shape of Israeli arms sales to India. Israel has become India’s second largest arms supplier, after Russia, and in particular niches, it is perhaps the leading provider of advanced armaments and military technology to the Indian military. During the first decade of the 21st century, Israel has transferred an estimated US$10 billion worth of military equipment to India. These deals include unmanned aerial vehicles and armed drones, missiles, and targeting pods. Of particular note, Israel has supplied India with radar systems for airborne early warning and missile defence.

In many ways, Israeli arms transfers to India have been a mutually beneficial, almost symbiotic relationship. Israeli technology fills critical gaps in India’s woefully deficient defence industrial base. After more than 50 years of effort, India’s defence industry has been unable to deliver the vast bulk of advanced military equipment its military demands, leaving it dependent on foreign suppliers.

Israel is often a ready, no-strings-attached arms supplier. Moreover, it has been willing to transfer technology and manufacturing know-how to help improve India’s defence industry.

At the same time, India is a critical market for an Israeli arms industry that desperately needs arms exports in order to survive. Fully 75 percent of Israel’s defence sales are to overseas buyers. Those revenues provide necessary income to underwrite military R&D programmes that in turn aid Israel’s own defence, such as the Iron Dome short-range missile defence system.

Expanding cooperation beyond arms sales

While arms sales constitute the largest chunk of Indo-Israeli defence cooperation, other forms of collaboration have emerged. In particular, Tel Aviv and New Delhi recognise that terror is a threat common to both countries (particularly after the 2008 Mumbai attack), and Israel has offered to cooperate with India in fighting terrorism, including intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorist training, and joint exercises.

Both countries have also exchanged military visits in an effort to expand military-to-military ties. Finally, Israel and India have expanded their cooperation in outer space, with India launching two Israeli surveillance satellites. Co-development of earth-observation satellites – an area where Israel has considerable expertise – is also a possibility.

Afghanistan, the drug addiction capital

By Tahir Qadiry
BBC News, Kabul

Afghanistan produces 90% of all opiate drugs in the world, but until recently was not a major consumer. Now, out of a population of 35 million, more than a million are addicted to drugs - proportionately the highest figure in the world.

Right in the heart of Kabul, on the stony banks of the Kabul River, drug addicts gather to buy and use heroin. It's a place of misery and degradation.

In broad daylight about a dozen men and teenage boys sit huddled in pairs smoking and injecting. Among them are some educated people - a doctor, an engineer and an interpreter.

Tariq Sulaiman, from Najat, a local addiction charity, comes here regularly to try to persuade addicts to get treatment.

"We are already losing our children to suicide attacks, rocket and bomb attacks," he says. "But now addiction is another sort of terrorism which is killing our countrymen."

I hate my life. Everyone hates me. I should have been at school at this age, but I am a junkie," he says.At the age of 18, Jawid, originally from Badakhshan in the north of Afghanistan, has already been hooked on heroin for 10 years. His uncle introduced him to drugs when he was a small child, to make him work harder on the land.

His father is dead. His disabled mother worries about her son constantly. All she wants from life is for him to get clean, but she begs on the streets to pay for his daily dose to prevent him stealing.

"I always tell Jawid if I die, he will end up sleeping under the bridge with other addicts," she says.

This is the fate of the most hardcore addicts, whose fires can be seen at night. Police regularly beat and disperse them, and sometimes throw them in the river.


Jawid: ''I came here to quit, to become a nice person''

The reasons why so many Afghans are turning to drugs are complex. It's clear that decades of violence have played a part.

Many of those who fled during the violence of the last 30 years took refuge in Iran and Pakistan, where addiction rates have long been high. They're now returning and bringing their drug problems with them, officials say.

Unemployment - which currently stands at nearly 40% - is also taking its toll.

"If I had a job, I wouldn't be here," says Farooq, one of the addicts by the river, who has a degree in medicine and once worked as a hospital manager.

Ex-president Musharraf admits approving CIA drone strikes

By Jennifer Rowland 
April 12, 2013

Event notice: CIA veteran and New America fellow Philip Mudd will discuss his new book,Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda, on MONDAY, April 15, 2013, 1:00-2:30PM (NAF).

Admit one

In an interview with CNN's Nic Robertson this week, ex-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted that his government had signed off on CIA drone strikes in the country, becoming the first Pakistani official, former or current, to acknowledge the Pakistani government's approval of the drone campaign (CNN). Musharraf caveated that he signed off on strikes "only on a few occasions, when a target was absolutely isolated and no chance of collateral damage," but the admission still diverges sharply from the statements of most past and present Pakistani officials, who have said they oppose the strikes as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

Musharraf is facing charges for allegedly jailing 62 judges without evidence, and for his alleged role in the assassinations of former governor of Balochistan Nawab Akbar Bugti and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Dawn). A Pakistani court extended Musharraf's bail on Friday until April 18, when the case of the illegally detained judges will be resumed.

Former agriculture minister from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Arbab Ayub Jan escaped a bomb attack in Peshawar on Thursday night as he was returning home from an election rally (Dawn). Jan is affiliated with the secular Awami National Party, the leader of which urged Pakistani officials to provide more security to his candidates. And Pakistani police defused a bomb near a mosque in Karachi on Friday after someone reported a suspicious package (Dawn, ET).

Lazy laws

The inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, John Sopko, said Thursday that weaknesses in a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act added by Congress last year to prevent U.S. funds from reaching militant groups in Afghanistan are rendering the new law ineffective (AP). IG Sopko said militants are still receiving U.S. funds because some new contracts simply do not include the language from the new provision, and because some contracting firms have not been informed about updates to the U.S. military's list of militant groups.

Taliban militants attacked an Afghan Army post in Kunar Province near the border with Pakistan on Friday, killing 13 soldiers (AP). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, putting the death toll at 15 soldiers and saying the Taliban took control of the base and seized weapons and ammunition.

Big money

Karachi has been in the news lately for its spiraling sectarian and political violence, but Pakistan's largest city was also home to one of the five best performing markets in the world in 2012 (Reuters). Of course, much of that was due to President Asif Ali Zardari's announcement that individuals would be allowed to buy stocks with no questions asked about where they got the money. In a city wracked by corruption, criminal gangs, and militant groups, many experts say that move simply allowed people a get out of jail free card for money laundering.

Middle East Notes and Comment: A Tale of Two Crises

APR 12, 2013

Syria and Egypt present very different challenges for U.S. policy. One is in the violent throes of revolution, and the other is sorting out the aftermath of one. One has the United States exerting influence from outside its borders, and the other has a strong and diverse U.S. presence inside. Perhaps most confoundingly, one seems to be the object of too much U.S. government attention, and the other too little.

Inky Tears

Time is on the block. The New York Times is teetering. It can get an alumnus down, but the last thing the news business needs is a case of nostalgia.

Published Apr 7, 2013

(Photo: Victor Prado/New York Magazine)

This spring marks the tenth anniversary of a journalistic scandal that everyone would like to forget, and that many have. On May 11, 2003, an unsuspecting SundayTimes readership woke up to a page-one headline heralding a four-page investigation of one Jayson Blair, a 27-year-old reporter whose serial fabrications and plagiarism constituted what the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., called “a low point” in the history of America’s greatest newspaper. Even at the time, Blair, a third-tier neophyte in a post-9/11 newsroom, was a bit player in the conflagration engulfing the Times. But his misdeeds exposed a larger breakdown: The same management culture that let Blair run amok on mostly minor assignments also allowed, even encouraged, Judith Miller (among others) to hijack the Times’s credibility and sometimes its front page to bolster the Bush administration’s spurious evidence for Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. The failure of the Times—and of virtually every mainstream news organization, including every broadcast-network news division—to vet the case for the Iraq War remains one of the worst systemic failures in the history of American journalism. The Times, above all, was expected to outperform the pack.

In the paper’s besieged and airless old 43rd Street building during the Blair imbroglio, the mood was grim. As one editor, a Times lifer and loyalist, put it to me in a desultory conversation one afternoon, “You can work for a century to build up an institution like this, and it can still be torn down in a weekend.”

A remarkable thing happened on the Times’ way to demolition, however. A clean slate of leaders, uncharacteristically humble circumspection, hard work, and a new regimen of checks and balances restored the paper’s internal equilibrium and external reputation. That’s not to say the Times is perfect; no news organization has been or ever will be. (To keep some perspective here, it’s worth remembering that another of the Times’ low points was its minimalist coverage of the Holocaust.) But the paper has reclaimed its status as the most essential American news source—one of the last still fielding ambitious correspondents in most places where news is made, and still investing untold man-hours, serious investigative talent, and acres of paragraphs to enterprise reportage that spans the globe and nearly every field of human endeavor. If theTimes didn’t provide a daily crib sheet, American television news wouldn’t know how to fill its airtime, and politicians wouldn’t know what authority to cite or, on the right, to tar and feather.

But no sooner did the paper solidify its comeback from the Blair-Miller debacle than history played a funny trick on it—in the sense of gallows humor. There was another existential threat to the paper that had nothing to do with the seemingly apocalyptic events of 2003. The Times, it turned out, was not immune to the same one-two punch that hammered every other old-­media organization over the past decade: the digital revolution and the Great Recession.

Now 2003 looks like the good old days for journalism. While Craigslist and the rest of the web had been decimating advertising and disrupting stately journalistic conventions since the mid-nineties, only 16 percent of the country had broadband Internet access. (That was up to 65 percent by December 2012.) And the twin blows of social media were still to come: Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006). The damage that’s been inflicted on the Times’ bottom line ever since is a running soap opera. The last time I saw the editor who’d commiserated with me about the Blair turmoil, it was at yet another farewell toTimes hands who were either being laid off or taking a buyout. The cash bar was not enough to dispel the high level of anxiety in the room.

Inky Tears

Time is on the block. The New York Times is teetering. It can get an alumnus down, but the last thing the news business needs is a case of nostalgia.

Published Apr 7, 2013 

This spring marks the tenth anniversary of a journalistic scandal that everyone would like to forget, and that many have. On May 11, 2003, an unsuspecting Sunday Timesreadership woke up to a page-one headline heralding a four-page investigation of one Jayson Blair, a 27-year-old reporter whose serial fabrications and plagiarism constituted what the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., called “a low point” in the history of America’s greatest newspaper. Even at the time, Blair, a third-tier neophyte in a post-9/11 newsroom, was a bit player in the conflagration engulfing the Times. But his misdeeds exposed a larger breakdown: The same management culture that let Blair run amok on mostly minor assignments also allowed, even encouraged, Judith Miller (among others) to hijack theTimes’s credibility and sometimes its front page to bolster the Bush administration’s spurious evidence for Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. The failure of the Times—and of virtually every mainstream news organization, including every broadcast-network news division—to vet the case for the Iraq War remains one of the worst systemic failures in the history of American journalism. The Times, above all, was expected to outperform the pack.

In the paper’s besieged and airless old 43rd Street building during the Blair imbroglio, the mood was grim. As one editor, a Times lifer and loyalist, put it to me in a desultory conversation one afternoon, “You can work for a century to build up an institution like this, and it can still be torn down in a weekend.”

A remarkable thing happened on the Times’ way to demolition, however. A clean slate of leaders, uncharacteristically humble circumspection, hard work, and a new regimen of checks and balances restored the paper’s internal equilibrium and external reputation. That’s not to say the Times is perfect; no news organization has been or ever will be. (To keep some perspective here, it’s worth remembering that another of the Times’ low points was its minimalist coverage of the Holocaust.) But the paper has reclaimed its status as the most essential American news source—one of the last still fielding ambitious correspondents in most places where news is made, and still investing untold man-hours, serious investigative talent, and acres of paragraphs to enterprise reportage that spans the globe and nearly every field of human endeavor. If the Times didn’t provide a daily crib sheet, American television news wouldn’t know how to fill its airtime, and politicians wouldn’t know what authority to cite or, on the right, to tar and feather.

But no sooner did the paper solidify its comeback from the Blair-Miller debacle than history played a funny trick on it—in the sense of gallows humor. There was another existential threat to the paper that had nothing to do with the seemingly apocalyptic events of 2003. The Times, it turned out, was not immune to the same one-two punch that hammered every other old-­media organization over the past decade: the digital revolution and the Great Recession.

Putting people on the map

A. SRIVATHSAN

NEW CONTOURS:Everyday spaces and resources closely connected with active users have hardly been the concern for Indian institutions. Screen shots from ‘Mapathon’.



Last week, the Survey of India (SOI), the mapping arm of the government, filed a police complaint against Google’s ‘Mapathon’ — the first ever mapping competition in India. It alleged that Google, which had invited Indian participants to add their local knowledge to existing maps, “is likely to jeopardise national security interest and violate the National Map Policy.” It also threatened participants with potential breach of rules. In response, Google has stood its ground and said its activities are well within the rules.

At the heart of this conflict are not legal issues as the SOI makes it out to be, but the shrinking role of the state in disseminating geographical information. Technologies have broken government monopoly over spatial data and are empowering communities to produce maps that are relevant to them. Bewildered government institutions, instead of embracing innovation and quickly adjusting to changes, are seeking the coercive power of rules to maintain dominance and stifle innovation.

For more than two centuries, the SOI has been surveying the country and producing topographical and special maps of different scales. Of the two kinds of maps it publishes, Defence Series and Open Series Maps, the second are declared as unrestricted by the Ministry of Defence. These are the maps that can be sold to the public. Third parties can reprint and add value to them, but only after signing an agreement and abiding by the condition set by the SOI. However, maps of coastal areas, the region around national boundaries and of Jammu & Kashmir State are out of bounds.

Private enterprise

These restrictions are inconsequential. Private companies sell satellite images and maps of Indian territories for a fee. For example, RapidEye, a private company based in Germany, offers high resolution images of three billion square kilometres of earth area including images of the western boundary of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, MapMart, the e-commerce division of IntraSearch, Inc. a U.S.-based concern, offers images, elevation model, digital vector maps and topographical maps of territories in India and other countries. Technology, as two geographers, Jeremy W. Crampton and John Krygier insightfully noted, is pushing cartography “out of the control of powerful elites.” Maps worldwide are accessible as never before.

Probably, anticipating such a situation, in 2005, the Indian National Map Policy envisioned that the SOI would take a leadership role in liberalising access to spatial data. To promote this, the national policy recommended “exploration of partnerships with ‘all sections’ of people and ‘work towards a knowledge-based society’.” But nothing much has changed. We are yet to witness collaborative efforts in the scale and manner needed.

On the contrary, Google Maps and Google Earth, launched in the same year as the National Map Policy, have taken advantage of technological solutions and allowed users to freely populate maps with information relevant to them. As a result, they have leapfrogged to become the favourite and frequently consulted map services. The problem is that Indian institutions still hold on to antiquated views of maps as instruments of governmental-ity. Hence, they contain only information that is relevant to what the state needs for administration, security and surveillance. Everyday spaces and resources closely connected with active users have hardly been the concern.

Counter-mapping

Counter-mapping, a practice and term made popular by Nancy Lee Peluso, a political ecologist, has challenged such state dominance and indifference. For more than a decade, it has empowered communities to produce alternative maps that document local assets and enabled them to make rightful claims. From Indonesia to Nicaragua, these counter-maps groups have challenged exploitation, exclusion, and demanded democratic resource allocation. Closer home, Transparent Chennai, a project initiated by the Institute for Financial Management and Research and partly funded by Google’s Inform and Empower initiative, helps Chennai citizens counter “inaccurate” government data. By collecting information such as location of public toilets and mapping them, local communities evaluate government performance and demand better services.

Privacy issues

Not everything is benign about mapping practices offered by Google. Commercial exploitation of data, invasion of privacy and illegal scooping of personal information in Google projects such as Street View are unsettling. Oliver Burkeman, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on the dark side of digital mapping, remarked that “Google’s and Apple’s maps might not just observe our lives, but in some sense come to play a role in directing their course.” They track use patterns, manipulate data and produce maps that stealthily serve commercial interests. Burkeman wittily observed that our search for the quickest route between two points in such map services may throw a result that passes through at least one Starbucks shop.

One of the models worth looking at is New York’s open data policy and the related BigApps project. The city has made it mandatory for government agencies to disclose data to improve transparency and governance. Since 2009, New York has been conducting competitions, which encourage people to use these data and create useful applications. Digital map applications are frequently among the prize winning ones. For example, last year’s prize winning entry, 596 Acres, is an online map application that helps communities find vacant public land and put it to common use.

Unfettered use of data and free mapping possibilities alone have the potential to check predatory practices and state monopoly.


The government’s decision to invoke coercive restrictions in response to Google’s ‘Mapathon’ contest has shown its inability to respond to technological innovations and public needs in a fast changing world