8 May 2013

Geopolitical Journey: Nostalgia for NATO *

May 7, 2013 
By George Friedman

Several years ago, I wrote a series of articles on a journey in Europe. It was intended both to be personal and to go beyond recent events or the abstract considerations of geopolitics. This week I begin another journey that will take me from Portugal to Singapore, and I thought that I would try my hand again at reflecting on the significance of my travels.

As I prepare for my journey, I am drawn to a central question regarding the U.S.-European relationship, or what remains of it. Having been in Europe at a time when that relationship meant everything to both sides, and to the world, this trip forces me to think about NATO. I have been asked to make several speeches about U.S.-European relations during my upcoming trip. It is hard to know where to start. The past was built around NATO, so thinking about NATO's past might help me put things in perspective.

On a personal level, my relationship with Europe always passes through the prism of NATO. Born in Hungary, I recall my parents sitting in the kitchen in 1956, when the Soviets came in to crush the revolution. On the same night as my sister's wedding in New York, we listened on the radio to a report on Soviet tanks attacking a street just a block from where we lived in Budapest. I was 7 at the time. The talk turned to the Americans and NATO and what they would do. NATO was the redeemer who disappoints not because he cannot act but because he will not. My family's underlying faith in the power of American alliances was forged in World War II and couldn't be shaken. NATO was the sword of Gideon, albeit lacking in focus and clarity at times.

I had a more personal relationship with NATO. In the 1970s, I played an embarrassingly unimportant role in developing early computerized war games. The games were meant to evaluate strategies on NATO's central front: Germany. At that time, the line dividing Germany was the fault line of the planet. If the world were to end in a nuclear holocaust, it would end there. The place that people thought it would all start was called the Fulda Gap, a not-too-hilly area in the south, where a rapid attack could take Frankfurt and also strike at the heart of U.S. forces. The Germans speak of a watch on the Rhine. For my generation, or at least those millions who served in the armies of NATO, it was Fulda.

In the course of designing war games, I spent some time at SHAPE Technical Center in The Hague. SHAPE stands for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. The name itself is a reminder of the origins of NATO, deep in World War II and the alliance that defeated the Germans. It was commanded by SACEUR -- Supreme Allied Commander Europe -- who was always an American. Over time, the name became increasingly anachronistic, as SACEUR stopped resembling U.S. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and started resembling the chair of a fractious church board, where people showed up for the snacks more than to make decisions.

To me, in the 1970s, SHAPE and SACEUR were acronyms that recalled D-Day and were built around the word "supreme." I was young and in awe, with a sense of history and pride in participating in it. Why I should be proud to participate in what might lead to total catastrophe for humanity seems odd in retrospect, but there is little in any of our lives that does not seem odd in retrospect. However, I was proud that I got to go into a building designated as SHAPE's technical center. I felt at the center of history. History, of course, is deceptive.

Games and Reality

It was never clear to me what those above us (whom we called "EBR," echelons beyond reality) did with the games that were built and played, or with the results, but I believe I learned a great deal about the war that was going to be fought. What cut short my career as a war gamer was my growing realization of the triviality of what we were doing and that the intelligence that we were building the games from was inherently deficient. Moreover, the commanders weren't all that interested in what we were doing. And there was the fact that I was genuinely enjoying and actually looking forward to a war that would test our theories. When the pieces on a map represent human beings and their loss means nothing to you, it is time to leave.

The war gaming was not the problem; properly done, as I hope it is by now, it can aid in victory and save lives. But then, knowing the men (women came later) who would stand and fight at Fulda if the time came, I felt I had been given a frivolous job. There was one thing I got from that job, however: I came into contact with troops from all the armies that might be called to fight. I had a profound sense that they were not just my colleagues but also my comrades. Some didn't like Americans, and others didn't like me, but this is no different than any organization. We were peering into the future, with our fates bound together. 

China: LAC impasse and Army-ITBP spat

Date : 07 May , 2013

First the facts

- Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has five battalions deployed in Eastern Ladakh including those on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

ITBP does not have its own integral intelligence setup so essential in an operational situation.

- The DIG Headquarter controlling these forces is located at Srinagar, 258 air km and 418 road km from Leh. Zoji La, on the Himalayan Range, and located on the main highway from Srinagar to Leh, is closed to road traffic from November to end May.

- Considering the separation of the Headquarter from the units, an adhoc Headquarter is functional under the Deputy at Leh – a compromise solution at best, considering the division of resources.

- ITBP communications are based, primarily, on High Frequency radio, which is most vulnerable to interception and being jammed when required particularly in an operational situation.

- The role of ITBP amplifies the tasks of the Force as – to guard the Northern borders and prevent violations and encroachments, prevent smuggling, unauthorized movement of goods, weapons, personnel and such like non-traditional threats in the border areas.

- ITBP does not have its own integral intelligence setup so essential in an operational situation.

- Thus the orientation of the force is essentially towards “policing” tasks.

The Ground Realties. 

- The Army has Infantry and Mechanized forces suitably located with robust combat support and controlling headquarters well forward and within easy reach of the LAC.

The Chinese Border Defence Units deployed and garrisoned along the entire LAC are directly under the PLA, which is surely not mere “policing” duties.

- India’s perception of the LAC is undemarcated on ground but has been identified along suitable geographical and relief features.

- India and China have unilaterally delineated the LAC on their respective maps but have not shared the same with each other. As a result, each assumes the others perception from the activities that both carry out to dominate upto their respective perceptions.

- Consequently, common areas claimed by both arise, and are contested for by the militaries. Often termed,inappropriately, as “no-mans land”. India generally terms it as “no-mans land” which is not paid heed to by China, thus putting India at a disadvantage. India should modify term to “Both-mans Land”, so that India does not restrain its troops from operating in that area.

India, “Cold Start” and Pakistani Tactical Nukes

By Zachary Keck
May 8, 2013


"India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but if it is attacked with such weapons, it would engage in nuclear retaliation which will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage on its adversary. The label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical, is irrelevant from the Indian perspective,” Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary and the current chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board, said in a recent speech, the Times of India reported.

The key in Saran’s comments is the reference to tactical nuclear weapons. Pakistan is believed to be developing such weapons to counter India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine. In recent years, terrorist attacks on India originating from Pakistan—most notably the 2008 Mumbai attacks—have led many Indian policymakers to conclude that Islamabad, emboldened by its nuclear deterrent, is supporting certain terrorist groups based out of Pakistan who carry out attacks on the Indian homeland.

After the Mumbai attack Indian’s military leaders reportedly developed a new doctrine called Cold Start, which called for Indian troops to rapidly mobilize for limited conventional strikes on the Pakistani side of the border immediately following a terrorist attack. The rationale was that this would give Delhi the ability to retaliate against Islamabad without sparking a full-fledged nuclear exchange.

Lacking the conventional military power to confront India’s military, Pakistani military officials are believed to be building tactical nuclear weapons to deploy in the field for possible use against the invading Indian military forces.

Saran’s speech appears to be India’s response to Pakistan’s theatre nuclear weapons. As he explained it:

“Pakistani motivation is to dissuade India from contemplating conventional punitive retaliation to sub-conventional but highly destructive and disruptive cross-border terrorist strikes such as the horrific 26/11 attack on Mumbai. What Pakistan is signaling to India and to the world is that India should not contemplate retaliation even if there is another Mumbai because Pakistan has lowered the threshold of nuclear use to the theatre level. This is nothing short of nuclear blackmail, no different from the irresponsible behavior one witnesses in North Korea.”

Saran then shot down the notion that India would distinguish between theatre and strategic nuclear weapons usage.

DRIFT AND INACTION- The trail of friction between India and its neighbours


For once it is possible to empathize with Manmohan Singh’s determination to chip away at the resistance to a rapprochement with Pakistan. With caveats though. The attack on a Pakistani prisoner in Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu has robbed India of the moral superiority it enjoyed not only in its engagement with Pakistan but also in the perception of the international community on dealings between New Delhi and Islamabad. It is fairly evident what happened in the high-security jail, but the reticence regarding the matter is understandable. There was a time when tit-for-tat was an effective recipe with Pakistan, but those conditions have changed in recent years. Nor was the memory of Sarabjit Singh served well by the attack on Sanaullah, the Pakistani serving a life-term.

During a difficult phase in Indo-Pakistan relations when J.N. Dixit was high commissioner in Islamabad, the telephones at his residence used to mysteriously go out of order soon after he returned home from office in the evenings. And they would remain without dial tones until Dixit left for the high commission the mornings after. It was soon clear that intelligence agencies in Islamabad were monitoring Dixit’s arrivals at and departures from his residence and duly instructing the telephone authorities to cut him off from the world outside his house once he had left the mission for the day. There were no smart-phones or BlackBerrys in those days, and even computers were not in common use as they are now. So, land-line telephones were absolutely essential for Indian diplomats living in a hostile environment like Pakistan even though they knew that their phone conversations were regularly eavesdropped on.

One morning, after a frustrating night of being kept incommunicado, Dixit decided to take matters into his own hands and called up the Pakistani minister in charge of telecommunications once he got to the high commission. He plainly told the minister that if his telephone went dead one more evening, every single telephone at the Pakistan high commission in Chanakyapuri and at the residences of their diplomats in New Delhi would be cut off until the Inter-Services Intelligence stopped its harassment at the Indian mission residence. Dixit’s telephone never went out of order even once during the rest of his stay in Islamabad.

Pakistan is a very different country from those years when one well-aimed threat directed at the right quarters, as in Dixit’s phone call, and creating a perception in the army general headquarters in Rawalpindi that the threat was no bluff, would often deliver what New Delhi wanted. That made the peaceniks, who carried candles to the Wagah border on the eve of Independence Day every year, the butt of jokes. They were irrelevant to any process between India and Pakistan, let alone a peace process, since their only back-up was sentiment: for many of them that sentiment came from the nostalgia of having been born on the other side of the border before India was partitioned.

Rawalpindi’s grip on the rest of the country and everything that goes on in Pakistan is no longer what it used to be. The ISI no longer holds a monopoly in planning and executing acts of terror: its patent for such plots has lapsed, which actually poses a bigger challenge for India than when a finger could be pointed at the army general headquarters to sometimes get results. For the first time, an elected legislature has completed its full term and Pakistan’s polity has fragmented as it heads into a general election.

A stronger India crucial for the conclusion of border agreement with China

07 May 2013

In the backdrop of the recent escalation of Sino-Indian border tensions following the Chinese incursion in Ladakh, Observer Research Foundation organised a round-table on 6 May, 2013 to review the Sino-Indian Relations. During the discussion, it was pointed out that peace and tranquillity in the region was in the interest of both India and China. However, one factor that was crucial for assuring this peace was India’s development and modernisation of its infrastructural capabilities on its borders with China. It is noted that a stronger India is crucial for the conclusion of a border agreement. 

ORF Senior Fellow Dr. Rajeswari Rajagopalan addressed the differences between India and China cropping from the difference in their infrastructural capacity. According to Dr. Rajagopalan, India was slow to start on the development of infrastructure on its borders with China, as it feared better roads would facilitate Chinese intrusion in its territory. Meanwhile, China pursued rapid infrastructural development and today unlike India its border regions are well connected by roads and railways to the rest of the country. 

Former ambassador and scholar Phunchok Stobdan focused on the role of Ladakh in the Sino-India border dispute. He stated that unlike Arunachal Pradesh where India’s political control remains strong, the political hold in Ladakh is weak. He added even the local perception towards China within Ladakh has been changing in favour of Beijing, and China remains aware of this. Understandably, China wants to de-link Ladakh from the overall Indo-China border dispute and is not in favour of linking Ladakh in border negotiations. 

Senior journalist and ORF Distinguished Fellow Dr. Manoj Joshi addressed the recent Chinese incursion in Eastern Ladakh and stated that China seems to be signalling new activism on the border dispute. This belief was further established by the statements of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying who in the days following the incursion assumed a rigid stand refusing to acknowledge a breach of territory by China. However, according to Dr. Joshi, India’s response to this development was commendable and made it clear to Beijing that New Delhi was no longer willing to accept any new normal on the Line of Actual Control. 

Brig. Arun Sahgal (Retd) elaborated the role of Ladakh in Sino-India border dispute. He said Ladakh is increasingly becoming an area of great concern for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). This, according to him, stems from the fact that if India improves its infrastructural capacity in the region, it will be able to integrate Ladakh which will be against China’s broader interests. However, according to Brig. Sahgal, Indo-China economic ties, which have accelerated in recent years, are extremely crucial for both the countries and this, he opined, could have been one of the main reasons motivating Chinese drawdown from eastern Ladakh. 

India-China stand-off: Sun Tzu in action

Last updated on: May 3, 2013

'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting' said the famed ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. That seems to be the ploy behind the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, says Colonel (retd) R Hariharan

Merely by sending a platoon of their troops to camp 19 km (upgraded after 10 days from 10 km reported earlier) inside our territory on February 15 near Daulat Beg Oldi along the Line of Actual Control in the Aksai Chin region, the Chinese have made the Indian government look weak and helpless in the eyes of its billion-plus people. We are seeing the classic Sun Tzu (the ancient Chinese military strategist) ploy -- "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting".

Whether this act is tactical and limited to a remote icy waste, it is a strategic victory for Chinese policy because it is the Indian authorities -- not the Chinese -- who have been compelled to explain why the Chinese intruded.

Over the years, India and China have stepped up functional cooperation in all areas. In the words of Indian Embassy, Beijing: "The two foreign ministries have instituted dialogue mechanisms on issues relating to counter-terrorism, policy planning and security, besides strategic dialogue and regular consultations. There are also close cooperation in areas as diverse as water resources, judiciary, science and technology, audit, personnel, finance, labour etc." for the last five years, an annual defence dialogue had been taking place.

The latest one was held in Beijing on January 14 at which both sides discussed bilateral and international security issues of common interest including those of the India-China border issues.

In spite of such a growing climate of friendship, the Chinese have chosen to embarrass the Indian government by creating a minor crisis for their own reasons. For the average Indian it is difficult to take it in the stride, like politicians do.

Despite this unseemly action, except for hawks, most of the people in India do not want a war with China, but all of them want India to be treated as a nation with dignity. This is a minimum China cannot ignore in its Machiavellian calculations regarding India.

And to face facts, as a nation we are not prepared for prolonged war both mentally and physically with a major power like China. Among the people, China does not generate the fratricidal genes Pakistan kindles.

Probably, China also does not want a shooting war for a very different reason. They remember the Sun Tzu's quote "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

So it does not make sense for the Chinese to go to war when they can achieve what they want without firing a shot. Why should they? After all by the simple act of moving a platoon of troops into the disputed area, they have managed to divide the nation, confuse the government, frustrate the armed forces and get away with what they want to do.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh took 12 days to come out with a comment on the issue that had been dominating national media. Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a defence investiture ceremony, he said India does not want to "accentuate" the situation and is working on a plan.

Selective secularism

May 08, 2013

Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the Haj subsidy. He did this to give Muslims confidence in India’s secular ideals and not for any votebank considerations.

Today, we have a larger English-speaking population in the US followed by India than in Britain. American English has features different from Queen’s English. Not only are its spellings and intonation different, it lays less emphasis on grammar and has injected new words and idioms. India has followed suit but not in spellings.

We have changed the meaning and connotation of certain English words, like secularism.

“Secularism” stands for complete separation in the powers of the Church (religion) and the state. A secular state is not supposed to have any religion or show any bias for any religion. Today, heads of state and government in secular countries, except the sovereign in Britain, are not administered the oath of office by a religious functionary. In India, our heads of state are administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice of India. Heads of state administer the oath of office to the Prime Minister, chief ministers and ministers. The individual has the choice of taking the oath by his/her religious book or without it, and without any reference to God, as per his/her choice.

Jawaharlal Nehru, basically an agnostic, used secular policy to heal the wounds of Partition holocaust. The resentment of Hindu fanatics had to be kept in check and Muslim fears of being treated as second-class citizens in truncated India had to be laid to rest irrespective of what was happening to minorities in east and west Pakistan. At that time, celebrated Muslim actors like Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari had adopted Hindu names to become more acceptable in India.

Nehru introduced the Haj subsidy, which is not given even in any Islamic country. He did this to give Muslims confidence in India’s secular ideals and not for any votebank considerations. At present, Muslims and people from other minority communities have reached top positions on the basis of their merit in various industries, films, politics, judiciary, military and government departments. This is a legacy of the secular policy promoted by Nehru.

In July last year, we witnessed a Hindu President of India being administered the oath of office by a Parsi Chief Justice in the presence of a Muslim vice-president, a Christian leader of the ruling party, a Sikh Prime Minister, a Sikh Army Chief and a Christian Air Chief. This is unique, the like of which has not been seen anywhere else in the world. Six of our states have had chief ministers from the Muslim community when the population of Muslims in all these states is only about 10 per cent. In five states where non-Hindus are in majority, we have never had a Hindu chief minister. All this underscores our secular credentials.

The Congress and some other political parties pursue the policy of appeasement for votebank politics behind a façade of what they call secularism. Nehru’s secularism did not include holding iftar parties at public expense. This is now standard practise. State functions for other religions are not held. Little concern is shown for four lakh Kashmiri Pandits who were subjected to ethnic cleansing and have been living like refugees for over two decades in their own country. They are officially called migrants and as such are not eligible for aid from UN refugee funds. Thirty thousand non-Muslim refugees who came to Jammu from West Pakistan in 1947 are now over one lakh. They are denied citizenship rights, while hundreds of Tibetan Muslims (now in their thousands), who came to Srinagar in 1950 on China occupying their country, were given full citizenship rights. The non-Muslim refugees who came from elsewhere in India were immediately given full citizenship rights. Two of them became Prime Ministers and one deputy prime minister. Information regarding vandalisation of a hundred Hindu temples in Kashmir during ethnic cleansing in 1989-90 was virtually kept under wraps, while the condemnable demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 continues to be exploited for political gains to this day.

During the late 1960s, B.K. Nehru, a cousin of Indira Gandhi, was the governor of Assam and B.P. Chaliha, a veteran Congressman, was the chief minister of the state. They recommended action to stop illegal migration from East Pakistan into Assam. This was changing the demography of the state, affecting state politics and posing a threat to national security. They were not allowed to take action. In his autobiography, B.K. Nehru laments that whereas the old Congress gave priority to national interest, for the new Congress party interest was supreme.

Addressing the disenchantment with Doha

Praveen Mahajan : Tue May 07 2013, 

If the Doha Round fails, existing trade distortions will worsen and harm the interests of developing countries

Last month, a WTO panel convened by Pascal Lamy, the director-general, submitted the report "The Future of Trade: The Challenges of Convergence". While part of the report delves into the contribution of trade to economic growth, development and prosperity, there are two significant factors. First, its timing. Second, the relevance of some of its recommendations to the future of the multilateral trading system, as well as to emerging and developing economies. These have reignited some interest in the fate of the Doha Round, as the world trade body goes to the ninth ministerial conference in Bali in December.

The timing is interesting because many countries have just about given up on any tangible outcome from the Doha Round. Twelve years down the line and with many missed deadlines, there is no consensus in sight on most issues. Moreover, Lamy is on his way out. It is unlikely that the deliberations will see any traction till the new DG is in the saddle. In this sense, the report attempts to sustain interest in the multilateral trading system. Its analysis of some of the transformational factors that have shaped trade in recent years, such as proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs), growing influence of non-tariff measures (NTMs), rise of international value chains, and geographical shifts in patterns of trade and investment, could not have come at a better time for emerging economies like India.

So far as progress of the Doha Round is concerned, among the most contentious issues remains "market access", where reconciling the interests of developed and developing countries is a big challenge. Second, there remains a wide gap between the bound and applied tariffs of some large developing countries (India, Brazil, etc). Because of this, even if negotiations succeed on tariff reduction, there would be little impact on trade liberalisation in these markets. Third, the WTO needs to adopt some criteria to differentiate among developing countries. The present arrangement allows some advanced developing countries to avoid making significant concessions while imposing burdensome obligations on poor countries. Fourth, heterogeneity among developing countries presents a problem.

The panel's report signals a paradigm shift for the future of global trade. It has recognised many new trends and provided a reality check before the ministerial conference: first, it acknowledges that PTAs are here to stay. The report warns that PTAs add to trade costs, can be exclusionary, and may also lead to segmentation of the world economy. It mentions that since the 1980s, there has been a rapid proliferation of PTAs and BITs (bilateral investment treaties). However, perhaps recognising this as a consequence of the disenchantment with the Doha Round, the panel recommends members explore ways in which PTAs could converge within the multilateral system. Since India has negotiated many bilateral and regional agreements, this will give it leverage.

The panel points out that with gradual fall in most tariffs, NTMs are increasingly influencing trade outcomes and, in many cases, restricting trade. However, NTMs can no longer be ignored since domestic policy compulsions could be based on health, safety or environmental grounds. Thus, the effort should be to ensure NTMs do not disproportionately mitigate trade benefits.

Neighbourhood concerns may have prompted China's Ladakh withdrawal

Ananth Krishnan

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will arrive in Beijing later this week for talks with his counterpart Wang Yi

China’s concerns over ongoing tensions with several of its neighbours, from Japan to the Philippines, may have prompted a rethink leading to the withdrawal of its troops from the face-off situation in Ladakh, a Chinese analyst has suggested.

Han Hua, a leading South Asia scholar at Peking University and director of its Center for Arms Control and Disarmament, told the Global Times on Monday that China’s current territorial rows with a number of countries may have informed its decision-making to ensure relations with India did not spiral out of control.

Chinese soldiers, who sparked the stand-off on April 15 by setting up tents on the Depsang plains 19 km into what India sees as its territory, withdrew from their positions on Sunday evening with both sides agreeing to return to the status quo prior to the incursion.

“Given current rows with Japan over the Diaoyu [or Senkaku] Islands, there is no reason to start another row,” Ms. Han told the newspaper.

Chinese officials have, however, revealed little about what prompted the April 15 move by the People’s Liberation Army which triggered the tensions.

Indian officials say while both sides have carried out patrols up to where they see their claim-lines, neither side had taken the step of setting up tented posts.

Ms. Han told the Global Times, a Communist Party-run tabloid known for its nationalist views, that she saw ties with India improving since 2010 because of China’s territorial disputes with other neighbours, particularly with Japan in the East China Sea and a number of countries over the South China Sea.

“Bilateral ties were tense from 2006 to 2009 due to rows over the eastern section of the China-Indian border, but have warmed up since 2010, partly because of rising disputes with China’s neighbours to the east as a result of the U.S. pivot to Asia,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Ms. Han said China’s “grand strategy” was “to avoid troubled relations with its neighbours,” although Beijing has left a number of countries in the region concerned over territorial disputes that have resurfaced.

“The new leadership adjusted its policies and now seeks a stabilised relationship with India,” Ms. Han said. “As emerging powers,” she added, “the two countries both face pressures from the West, and have the will to cooperate on a wide range of global issues. They both want stability and prioritise economic development, so they don't want to clash with each other.”

Separately, Pei Yuanying, a former Chinese ambassador to India, told the official China Daily on Monday that resolving the border dispute would require “time and patience.”

Even as the stand-off evoked concerns in India, Chinese media outlets have given little attention to the row.

Journalists at two State-run media outlets told The Hindu there had been directives to play down the incident, particularly as the Chinese side “did not want the tensions to derail” the expected visit of Premier Li Keqiang to India on May 20. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will arrive in Beijing later this week for talks with his counterpart Wang Yi and other officials to lay the groundwork for the visit.

That the Chinese government was apparently keen to ensure the visit would go ahead smoothly, under the right atmospherics, has made it all the more puzzling why Chinese troops decided to set up tents in Depsang on a night three weeks ago.

Maoists’ improved firepower makes govt. review strategy

Sandeep Joshi

State police, CRPF asked to deploy forces at strategic locations

Recent reports of Maoists using improvised explosives devices (IEDs) and arms such as hand grenades and rocket propelled grenades, besides their access to modern arms through north-east based militant groups, has forced the Home Ministry to review its strategy to counter Naxals more effectively.

According to sources in the Ministry, in January, Naxals targeted security forces by implanting IEDs inside corpses of CRPF personnel in Jharkhand. This is being seen as a major shift in the tactics adopted by Naxals to inflict maximum damage on security forces.

Underlining how Maoists were adding to their firepower, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh told Parliament on Tuesday that Naxals were manufacturing improvised hand grenades and rocket propelled grenades in units that have come up in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Intelligence and police reports indicated that Maoists had set up small arms units in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. Police and the CRPF were alerted on this and asked to deploy forces at strategic locations and step up operations to bust such units. The Union government was closely monitoring the situation and regularly issuing advisories to the Left Wing Extremism-affected States to keep a check on such activities, he said.

The sources said as Naxals were losing territories and their influence waning, they were adopting new tactics to fight security forces.

“In recent months we have seen more fierce battles between Naxals and security forces. To carry out deadly attacks, Naxals are using IEDs and improvised grenades.”

“The main strategy of Maoists is to get security forces booby-trapped in order to inflict maximum damage.

They are also trying to acquire modern guns and other arms and ammunition from militant groups active in the north-east.

Recently some Naxals were apprehended with China-made arms,” the official added.

As fight with the Naxals is getting more intensified and security forces are stepping up pressure on them, the Centre has deployed 532 companies of its armed police force, including the CRPF, in the LWE-affected States, while worst-affected States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha have been pressing for more forces.

Wading into the quagmire

FDI in Defence: Lessons for Developing Countries
May 7, 2013

Most developing countries hear persistent demands from foreign manufacturers and advocacy groups for raising foreign investment caps in high-tech industries, particularly in the defence sector1, usually laced with suggestions that increased foreign investments would result in rapid technological upgradation of the domestic defence industrial base. Some demands for foreign direct investment (FDI) levels have been as high as 74%, numbers that could be particularly problematic once the fragile behavior of foreign institutional investments (FIIs) has been fully factored-in.

On a closer enquiry, some of these proposed arguments could be rather simplistic, particularly when most MNCs are increasingly using tax havens for locating their IPRs, rendering their operations opaque to any meaningful enquiry or oversight by other countries2. Most developed economies are already feeling threatened by increasing equity investments sponsored by foreign government-owned and/ or foreign government-controlled entities3 in the defence and high-tech industries, and particularly in the context of the EU, it is likely that a strong, coordinated government response for supervision and oversight of foreign investments will emerge on the horizon sooner than later.

Typical concerns that make foreign investments in the defence sector important from a national security perspective are: (i) foreign owners could eventually restrict defence supplies to host governments; (ii) foreign owners could use acquired technologies to harm host government’s security interests; (iii) foreign-acquired domestic firms could be used for surveillance, infiltration and sabotage against the host governments4; and (iv) particularly from a developing country perspective, foreign ownership could result in widespread infusion of low-end technologies that could wipe out nascent defence industrial bases in the host countries.

The last prospect can be particularly problematic for developing countries, in the absence of credible evidence that higher FDIs necessarily result in transfer of high-end technologies. In fact, energising defence manufacturing in emerging economies has usually been the result of well-designed offset policies as in South Korea5, and/ or smart leveraging of defence procurements that incentivise joint manufacturing and co-development—a path that Indonesia appears to have focused on recently6. At the bare minimum, developing countries may first need to provide a level-playing field to their own domestic manufacturers, as many of them force their own nascent industries to compete with established global manufacturers7.

Conceptually, strategies for controlling foreign investments in the defence sector, as practiced in established arms-manufacturing countries, can broadly be categorised into two levels of control and supervision—sector-wise controls and company-wise controls, in addition to a third level of actual practices, as explained below.

Company-wise controls take the form of specific caps on foreign investments: the UK, for instance, does not allow any foreign shareholder to own more than 15% in BAE and in Rolls Royce through the UK Government’s golden shareholdings8. In addition, both companies’ terms of association require the chairmen and certain board members to be UK nationals. France’s golden share in Thales gives the French Government the right to oppose any outsider investor acquiring more than 10% of shares, in addition to a government observer on the firm’s Board of Directors. Similarly, Italy has golden shares in various defence companies, including Finmeccanica and Fincantieri, where in the latter case, the Italian Government needs to approve any investments of over 3%9.

For the purpose of sector-wise controls, European and US systems can be broadly classified into four models that are used to protect their industrial base against foreign threats10. As an example of the first “Prohibition” Model, Finland, Lithuania and Slovenia place an outright prohibition of all non-EU and non-NATO FDI in defence, aerospace and security sectors. Under the second “Approval” Model, as occurs in Austria, Denmark, Poland, Spain and Sweden, any foreign investors, including those from the EU, must first receive government and ministerial approval for any acquisition deal. A third “Review” Model, as occurring in France, Germany and the UK, acquisitions by foreign firms may be subject to review by competent ministries. Finally, under the fourth “Supervision” Model, as occurs in the US, proxy boards comprising of US nationals run and monitor all defence firms, whether domestically- or foreign-owned. In the US, of course, the sectors where FDI could be restricted need not be limited to defence alone: the government exercises its authority to supervise, prohibit and/ or require changes to foreign holdings in any industry, in case FDI in that industry is assessed to be a potential threat to its national security. And in both the US and in some EU countries practicing the supervision model, government reviews can be triggered by foreign shareholdings as small as 3 or 5%.

Balochistan: Pakistan's Next Headache?

7 May 2013
By Vikas Kumar for Atlantic-community.org

The Baloch flag

Balochistan has struggled for independence from Pakistan for decades. Vikas Kumar believes upcoming elections and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will provide Baloch nationalists with opportunities to rejuvenate their cause. They will then have to contend with China’s growing presence in this restive province.

The international community is anxiously waiting to see if the forthcoming elections in Pakistan can provide a solution to Islamic insurgency and stabilize the country. While the impact of Pakistan's instability on post-NATO Afghanistan is widely discussed, it is important to examine sources of domestic instability in Pakistan that are not directly related to Afghanistan but which might have implications for the transatlantic community.

Balochistan, a province which accounts for more than half of Pakistan's area but less than five per cent of its population, could be the next major trouble spot in the country and the region. Unlike other provinces in Pakistan, it is not inextricably linked to the rest of the country, though it is a net supplier of mineral resources to other provinces. Its peoples' sentiment toward Islamic nationalism and extremism is best captured in the words of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti: "I have been a Baloch for several centuries. I have been a Muslim for 1400 years. I have been a Pakistani for just over 50." Like the people of East Timor, South Sudan, and Eritrea, the Balochs have struggled for decades. Theirs is, in fact, one of the longest running insurgencies in the world.

Pakistan's four major ethnic groups in 1980.

However, there are obstacles to Baloch independence. Punjab and Sindh provinces, which are historically and linguistically closely related and together account for about half of Pakistan's area and more than three-fourths of its population, both have an abiding interest in the country's integrity as well as the means to protect their interests militarily.

Pakistan's recent decision to transfer the operation of Gwadar port in Balochistan to a Chinese company is going to add to the difficulties of the Balochs. China is likely to develop a keen interest in Balochistan as a means to establish another access point to the Indian Ocean. This would give the beleaguered Pakistani government a boost: The presence of a permanent Security Council member, with few human rights concerns, would limit the capacity of Baloch insurgents to challenge the Pakistani state by damaging economic enterprises.

The feasibility of an independent Balochistan therefore depends on the interests of external powers that are not comfortable with Pakistan and the growing influence of China. With the rest of the world fixated on elections in Pakistan and US withdrawal from Afghanistan, 2013-14 could present a window of opportunity for the Balochs to launch a fresh struggle before China strikes deep roots in Balochistan.

Ultimately, this would not be a bad turn of events for the West. Firstly, an independent Balochistan would provide a shorter land route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, which would bypass both Iran and Pakistan and also weaken Russia and China's stranglehold over Central Asia. Additionally, unlike Pakistan, an independent Balochistan would not be in a position to hold Afghanistan as a hostage. Secondly, the vast and sparsely populated Baloch territories in Iran and Pakistan are mineral rich and have long coastlines close to the Persian Gulf. So, both militarily and economically, an independent Balochistan would not pose so many problems for the West as they currently face inAfghanistan.

The transatlantic community's response to a fresh Baloch rebellion in Pakistan (and possibly Iran) is the key to the future of Balochistan. At this stage the transatlantic community can do four things. First, reverse the decades old policy of overlooking the excesses of the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies and help Balochs raise their longstanding grievances regarding human rights violations on international platforms. Second, engage with the Baloch leadership diplomatically and familiarize them with the international law and state system. Third, encourage Japan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to invest in the future of Balochistan and secure their long term national interests. Saudi Arabia and Turkey can, in turn, influence opinion in West and Central Asia. Fourth, ally with ethnic Baloch nationalists against the Taliban. This will help them reclaim important territory along the Afghanistan border lost to the Taliban and also help them strike a cordial relationship with Afghanistan, a key neighbour.

In short, it is in the transatlantic interest to support Balochistan's cause and, in doing so, limit Iran, Pakistan, and China's influence in South West and Central Asia.

China and the West May Soon Compete for Troubled Iceland

BRUSSELS-In front of the dominating church of Hallgrímur, in Iceland's capital Reykjavik, stands the statue of Leif Ericson. He is described as the "son of Iceland, discoverer of Vinland," the Norse name for what would become North America. The inscription serves as a reminder of the island's physical and symbolic position in the middle of the Atlantic.

On April 27, Icelandic voters brought back to power the center-right conservatives they had ousted after the financial crisis of 2008 in favor of a pro-European socialist-green coalition. Beyond the political result, the elections exacerbated some of the pressing economic and strategic challenges that lie ahead for Iceland. Between accession to the European Union, the potential for a renewed relationship with the United States, and a strengthened partnership with China, Iceland faces numerous choices concerning its role in the transatlantic relationship.

Five years after a financial crisis made Iceland the center of international attention, a disconnect between the country's economic and social recovery is palpable. Emergency measures taken in the wake of the crisis with the blessing of the International Monetary Fund may have protected domestic depositors and assets, but they have led to higher taxes, currency devaluation, repossessions, and lower paying jobs. Despite steady 2.5 percent growth, unemployment projected to be below 5 percent by the end of the year, a positive current account balance, and government debt now below 100 percent of GDP, much of the population is still struggling. Growth may have returned sooner than expected, but it has been weaker. More pressing, household debts are still crippling; in 2012, 10 percent of homes were still in default with mortgages or rent.

Iceland's economy relies heavily - perhaps too heavily - on its geography and geology, which have enabled the development of successful fishing, geothermal energy, aluminum production, and tourism industries. With diversification now needed, Iceland must create the necessary conditions to attract foreign direct investment. This would require foreign creditors to suffer losses in an orderly way and the lifting of capital controls in a manner that avoids the further depreciation of the króna. The new Icelandic government will need to convince its people that it is capable of helping those still most affected by the crisis.

But beyond economic recovery, it is Iceland's role in global affairs that may be at a critical juncture. Despite continuing skepticism over the country's accession to the European Union and the euro, reinforced by the overwhelming victory of the center-right parties opposed to EU membership, talks might still go ahead under the new coalition government. Many Icelanders have voiced their interest in seeing what a finalized accession package would look like, with particular attention focused on the thorny issue of fisheries.

Iceland is also proving a strategic gateway of another kind. In early April, it became the first European country to sign a free trade agreement with China. The large size of the Chinese embassy in Reykjavik is a fair representation of the ambitions that Beijing may have in the region, and why it has been seeking for support to become a permanent observer of the Arctic Council. By 2020, approximately 15 percent of Chinese trade may be transiting through the Northern Sea Route.

Army of War

C. Raja Mohan : Wed May 08 2013, 

As calm returns to eastern Ladakh after three weeks of military standoff between Delhi and Beijing, a complex dynamic is unfolding on China's frontiers with Myanmar. Unlike the disputed India-China border that has no agreed delineation of the line of actual control, Beijing and Yangon have a settled boundary.

The problems are of a different nature on the 2200 km long Sino-Myanmarese border — of restive ethnic minorities that spread across the boundaries, cross-border crime, and a history of Chinese intervention across the border in Myanmar. In the past, this included Chinese fraternal support to the Communist Party of Burma that sought a violent overthrow of the national government. Beijing also sought chase across the border the remnants of the Guomindang that took shelter in Myanmar after the civil war in China.

Over the last quarter of a century, China reached out to the Myanmar military, also called the Tatmadaw, extended military assistance to it, and deepened economic cooperation with Myanmar, which was seen as a valuable source of raw materials and a bridge to the Indian Ocean. As Myanmar ended its political isolation a couple of years ago, China's privileged position in the country appeared to be under threat. China's renewed support to ethnic militias in northern Myanmar appears to have risen in tandem.

In focus are reports that Beijing has begun supply of weapons to the United Wa State Army in northern Myanmar. The USWA was formed out of the detritus of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in the late 1980s. At the end of last month, Jane's Intelligence Review reported that China has sent Mi-17 helicopters armed with TY-90 air-to-air missiles. The helicopters apparently reached Myanmar from Laos rather than from across the Chinese border.

Denying the reports, the Chinese embassy in Yangon said, "As a good neighbour and true friend of Myanmar, China would never seek to establish any kind of illegal relations with any parties or organisations in Myanmar". Despite the denials, Chinese support to the Wa is being interpreted as a warning to Yangon not to trample upon its vital interests in Myanmar.

Reports last year suggested that Beijing had supplied surface-to-air missiles and armoured vehicles also known as "tank-killers" to the Wa. Equipped with these new capabilities, the Wa army will be in a better position to stand up against a reported offensive being planned by the Tatmadaw.

Kachin Talks

On another front, China has actively sought to mediate between Yangon and the Kachin Independence Organisation, which have been at odds since the breakdown of the ceasefire a couple of years ago. China hosted two rounds of talks this year on its territory in Yunnan, provided security to participants from both sides, and actively shaped the agenda and the negotiations. Beijing's intervention in the peace process has unsurprisingly irked Yangon.

But a third round of talks was postponed last month amidst reports that China leaned on the Kachins not to attend the meeting, which was to take place in Myanmar. China was apparently concerned about potential involvement of the United Nations and the Western powers in the peace process.

Soft Power

While pointing to the negative leverages it has in Myanmar, Beijing is also trying to improve its image in the country, where it is increasingly perceived as a ruthless exploiter. Beijing is asking its corporations to reach out to communities around the project areas and undertake visible social welfare activities. Beijing is inviting leaders of the ethnic minorities as well as mainstream parties to visit neighbouring Yunnan and Beijing.

Pentagon Report Reveals Chinese Military Developments

May 08, 2013
By Andrew S. Erickson


Last year's annual report on Chinese military developments was widely criticized. What does the 2013 version offer?

After a year-long hiatus, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s annual report on Chinese military developments is back and better than ever. Its 43-page 2012 predecessor was widely criticized for arriving far later than Congress requested and containing little substance or new data. But this year’s expeditiously-issued 92-page document continues a tradition of detailed, sophisticated, publicly-available U.S. government analysis previously seen in the 2011 DoD report, the 2010 National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) report on China’s air force, and the 2009 and 2007 Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) reports on China’s navy.

Like these other landmark reports, this year’s DoD iteration clearly and understandably comes from a U.S. military perspective, yet strives to provide a comprehensive picture of Chinese military developments and the strategic concerns that motivate them. This represents an admirable effort to offer a balanced assessment, as can be seen in remarks at the time of its release by David F. Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. Useful data are presented on everything from Chinese sea- and -land based energy access to apparent ambiguities in Beijing’s “no first use” nuclear doctrine to members of the Central Military Commission and their key professional relationships.

All this context matters deeply, and should be commended. But arguably the report’s greatest contribution lies in more specific areas: providing authoritative assessments of key People’s Liberation Army (PLA) developments that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve or confirm via other publicly-available sources, such as Beijing’s own recently-released 2013 Defense White Paper—which, like many Chinese public strategic documents, offers few specifics. Chinese government representatives are already out in force criticizing this year’s DoD report and claiming that its content is distorted or inaccurate, but as usual do not offer credible evidence to clarify or counter even the report’s most important assertions. Yet it is precisely in such areas—which include hard-to-attribute cyber activities and other types of espionage—that observers of China’s military development need the greatest governmental assistance. After all, as a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed argues cogently: “In the long run Beijing usually does what it says it is going to do, although the execution may be concealed with deception.”

With respect to obfuscation, the report documents that China has conducted multiple naval operations in the undisputed U.S. Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of a nature that it would oppose a foreign military such as that of the U.S. conducting in its own claimed EEZ—which it is projected to fill with increasing numbers of maritime law enforcement vessels. While the report states that China is conducting such activities in the EEZs of multiple states, a reference that almost certainly includes Japan, it is worth noting the report’s exact wording with respect to the United States: “the United States has observed over the past year several instances of Chinese naval activities in the EEZ around Guam and Hawaii. One of those instances was during the execution of the annual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in July/August 2012. While the United States considers the PLA Navy activities in its EEZ to be lawful, the activity undercuts China’s decades-old position that similar foreign military activities in China’s EEZ are unlawful.” It will be particularly interesting to see how Beijing responds to such revelations, which further underscore the emerging contradictions between China’s promotion of restrictive approaches vis-à-vis foreign military and governmental activities in the Near Seas (Yellow, East, and South China Seas) even as it pursues increasing access to such other strategic seas as the Western Pacific and the Arctic. Given this complexity, perhaps Beijing’s approach for now will be to denounce the report generally while avoiding this specific issue.

China's and India's Dangerous Game

May 7 2013

A recent border incursion highlights the risks of further conflict between the two.

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) photographed with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) in 2012. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)

China and the United States have the world's most important bilateral relationship. But the runner-up is surely China and India. After all, the two countries have a combined population of (roughly) 2.5 billion, amounting to around 40 percent of the world's population. They also have rapidly growing economies, nuclear weapons, and a border over 600 miles long -- one that remains unresolved after a deadly skirmish between the two countries in 1962.

As a result, when 50 Chinese soldiers crossed the border and pitched tents 12 miles into the Indian region of Ladakh last month, the world reacted with some alarm. Now that the soldiers have left, many questions remain: Was Beijing reacting to an unseen Indian provocation? Or was this the work of a "rogue" element of the PLA, acting without orders from above? Neither explanation, if true, is comforting.

Relations between China and India are generally stable. The two sides are members of the BRICS, a club of emerging market nations that periodically meets to discuss areas of mutual interest. China is India's largest trading partner, and trade between the two exceeded $75 billion last year -- a number that is trending upward. Clearly, India and China would have little to gain -- and a lot to lose -- from a major conflict. So why should we worry about one anyway? Here are three main reasons:

That Pesky Border

In late October 1962, when the Western world was consumed with the Cuban Missile Crisis, China's People's Liberation Army assaulted an India military position in the disputed territory of Arunachal Pradesh, routing the poorly-trained Indian forces. A month later, China invaded again before finally calling a unilateral cease-fire on the 21st of November: too late for the 2,000 or so who lost their lives. Ever since, the border -- referred to by the vaguely Orwellian name of "Line of Actual Control" -- remains a sticking point between the two. One reason? The part of China bordering India, alas, is Tibet -- the "autonomous region" that has caused no end of political trouble for Beijing ever since the People's Republic "liberated" it in 1950.


In the Western world, we tend to think of Tibet as a barren "rooftop" lacking in natural resources, a wasteland of imposing mountains and harsh, windswept plains. However, Tibet actually has one important resource in abundance: rivers. Several of Asia's most important bodies of water originate in the region, including the Yangtze, Yellow, Mekong, and Brahmaputra -- the latter of which flows into India and provides sustenance for a significant chunk of the country's population. Unsurprisingly, New Delhi pays very close attention to Chinese efforts to dam the Brahmaputra, since any ruptures in its flow would affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

Then, there's the issue of the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan leader has resided in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959 and holds court in the northeastern town of Dharamsala. Since his departure, China has attempted to isolate the Dalai Lama through discrediting him in the media ("wolf in monk's robes" is a typical description you find in the official Chinese press) and pressuring foreign governments to ignore his visits. While this strategy has largely worked -- the Dalai Lama long ago gave up demands for Tibetan independence in favor of "autonomy", for instance -- Beijing surely understands that the de factocapital of the Tibetan movement lies firmly within Indian territory. This is a sore point that isn't likely to go away, even after the aging Dalai Lama dies.

Warming U.S.-India Relations

It seems difficult to believe now, but during a significant stretch of the Cold War the United States actually had better relations with China than it did with India, which tilted toward the Soviet Union during the conflict. Now, of course, the Washington -- New Delhi relationship has warmed to the point where the Obama Administration explicitly endorsed India's inclusion as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. As a vibrant multi-cultural democracy with a large English-speaking population, India has been described as a "natural ally" of the United States, in contrast to authoritarian China.

This development, without question, worries China. India also has close ties with Japan, China's historic enemy, and Beijing's strategists have reason to believe that a Washington-Tokyo-New Delhi alliance may emerge as a check on Chinese power in Asia.

Will any of these problems come to a head? Probably not soon. Sino-Indian ties seem largely mended after this recent incursion; India's foreign minister plans to visit Beijing later this week and China's premier Li Keqiang is due in New Delhi toward the end of the month. But absent some major diplomatic initiative to resolve these longstanding issues, the risk of another incident occurring remains high. And next time, a peaceful resolution may not be so easy to obtain.