1 June 2013

Geopolitical Journey: The Search for Belonging and Ballistic Missile Defense in Romania

By George Friedman 
May 29, 2013 


During the Cold War, Romania confused all of us. Long after brutality in other communist countries declined, Romania remained a state that employed levels of violence best compared to North Korea today. Nicolae Ceausescu, referred to by admirers as the Genius of the Carpathians, ruled Romania with a ruthless irrationality. Government policies left the country cold and dark, and everyday items readily available just a few kilometers south in Bulgaria were rarities in Romania. At the same time -- and this was the paradox -- Romania was hostile and uncooperative with the Soviets. Bucharest refused to submit to Moscow, and this did not compute for many of us. Resistance to Soviet power, in our minds, meant liberalization, like what we saw in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But not in Romania; Romania played a different game. 

Romania is an inward-looking country that longs to be better integrated into the international system -- a difficult posture to maintain. Each time I return to Romania, I watch this struggle unfold. If Bucharest was an exception in the Soviet bloc, it is now finding it much harder than countries such as Poland to adapt to Europe. For Romania, becoming normal means becoming part of Europe, and that means joining the European Union and NATO. The idea of not being fully accepted in Brussels creates real angst in Bucharest. When I point out the obvious difficulties affecting both institutions and suggest that membership may not be the best solution for Romania, I am firmly rebuffed. They remember something I sometimes forget: After the insanity of Ceausescu, they need to be European. No matter how flawed Europe is today, the thought of being isolated as they once were is unbearable. 

The United States plays a unique role in the culture of countries like Romania. My parents in Hungary, the country next door to Romania, listened to Voice of America in 1944. When they heard of the Allied landing in Normandy, they thought they were saved from the Germans and Soviets. They were not, but it was the Americans -- noble and invincible in their imaginations -- in whom my parents placed their hope. Throughout the Cold War, Eastern Europeans listened to VOA and imagined liberation from the Soviets. When that liberation finally came in 1989, it was unclear whether and to what degree the Americans had precipitated the Soviet collapse. It remains unclear, but in Eastern Europe and in Romania, the concept of liberation is fixed, and despite all of their concern for the European Union, the United States remains the redeemer. 

This region is perhaps the last place in the world where the United States is still seen as noble and invincible. Power is complex -- the more of it you gain, the more ambiguous you become. For a growing power, there is a moment before the exercise of responsibility in which you appear perfect. You have not yet done anything that requires ruthlessness or brutality, but you have shown strength. That was the image of the United States during the two world wars. As the United States started to mature, the world discovered that power distorts even the best of wills. But in Eastern Europe, the original sense of the United States, though certainly tattered and somewhat worn by the complexities of real power, is still a moving force. In my view, the relationship between the United States and Romania needs to be nurtured, not through showcase projects of little impact but through a substantial development of economic and military relations. This might not sound glamorous, but it would address the national security interests of both sides. 
Differing Perceptions 

My view on Romania's place in the world apparently does not sit well with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Romanian President Traian Basescu. My discussions with these leaders are a tale worth telling, since they have led me on a true geopolitical journey. 

The continuing tragedy of the adivasis***

By Ramachandra Guha 

The killings of Mahendra Karma and his colleagues call not for retributive violence but for a deeper reflection on the discontent among the tribals of central India and their dispossession 

In the summer of 2006, I had a long conversation with Mahendra Karma, the Chhattisgarh Congress leader who was killed in a terror attack by the Naxalites last week. I was not alone — with me were five other members of a citizens’ group studying the tragic fallout of the civil war in the State’s Dantewada district. This war pitted the Naxalites on the one side against a vigilante army promoted by Mr. Karma on the other. In a strange, not to say bizarre, example of bipartisan co-operation, the vigilantes (who went by the name of Salwa Judum) were supported by both Mr. Karma (then Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly) and the BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh. 

‘Liberated zone’ 

From the 1980s, Naxalites had been active in the region, asking for higher wages for tribals, harassing traders and forest contractors, and attacking policemen. In the first decade of this century their presence dramatically increased. Dantewada was now identified by Maoist ideologues as the most likely part of India where they could create a ‘liberated zone.’ Dozens of Telugu-speaking Naxalites crossed into Chhattisgarh, working assiduously to accomplish this aim. 

The Naxalites are wedded to the cult of the gun. Their worship of violence is extreme. They are a grave threat to democracy and democratic values. How should the democratically elected State government of Chhattisgarh have tackled their challenge? It should have done so through a two-pronged strategy: (i) smart police work, identifying the areas where the Naxalites were active and isolating their leaders; (ii) sincerely implementing the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the land and tribal forest rights of the adivasis, and improving the delivery of health and education services to them. 

The Chhattisgarh government did neither. On the one side, it granted a slew of leases to industrialists, over-riding the protests of gram panchayats and handing over large tracts of tribal land to mining companies. On the other side, it promoted a vigilante army, distributing guns to young men owing allegiance to Mahendra Karma or his associates. These goons then roamed the countryside, in search of Naxalites real or fictitious. In a series of shocking incidents, they burnt homes (sometimes entire villages), raped women, and looted granaries of those adivasis who refused to join them. 

In response, the Naxalites escalated their activities. They killed Salwa Judum leaders, murdered real or alleged informers, and mounted a series of daring attacks on police and paramilitary units. The combined depredations of the Naxalites and Salwa Judum created a regime of terror and despair across the district. An estimated 150,000 adivasis fled their native villages. A large number sought refuge along the roads of the Dantewada district. Here they lived, in ramshackle tents, away from their lands, their cattle, their homes and their shrines. An equally large number fled into the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh, living likewise destitute and tragic lives. 

It was to study this situation at first hand that our team visited Chhattisgarh in 2006. We travelled across the Dantewada district, speaking to vigilantes, Naxalites and, most of all, ordinary tribals. We met adivasis who had been persecuted by the Naxalites, and other adivasis who had been tormented by the Salwa Judum vigilantes. The situation of the community was poignantly captured by one tribal, who said: “Ek taraf Naxaliyon, doosri taraf Salwa Judum, aur hum beech mein, pis gayé” (placed between the Maoists and the vigilantes, we adivasis are being squeezed from both sides). 

The Cult of Transformational Leadership***

May 31, 2013 
By Joseph S. Nye Jr. 


Good leadership in this century may or may not be transformational but it is important to start with the Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm.

Joseph S. Nye Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University and is the former Dean of the Kennedy School. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and Deputy Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. In his most recent book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, published by Princeton University Press, Nye looks at the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America's rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices. The Diplomat is pleased to present an excerpt from the book: 

Foreign policy played almost no role in the 2000 election, but the crisis of September 11, 2001, produced a transformational foreign policy. A nonstate actor’s attack on the homeland killed more Americans than did the Japanese government’s attack at Pearl Harbor and had a profound effect on President Bush, his followers, and American public opinion. In 2001 George W. Bush started as a limited realist with little interest in foreign policy but became transformational in his objectives after the crisis. Like Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Truman, Bush 43 turned to the rhetoric of democracy to rally his followers in a time of crisis. 

Bill Clinton, the beneficiary of the primacy that was consolidated under the first President Bush, had also talked about enlarging human rights and democracy, but the 1990s was a period in which the American people sought normality and a peace dividend from the end of the Cold War rather than dramatic change. Clinton took a number of important steps in opening trade, creating fiscal stability, and bringing Russia and China into the global economy while simultaneously reassuring allies in Japan and Europe. After initial stumbles related to UN peacekeeping in Bosnia and Rwanda, he used force in a number of humanitarian interventions. But in the view of historian John Lewis Gaddis, Clinton lacked a grand strategy and “allowed an illusion of safety to produce a laissez-faire foreign and national security policy.” Similarly, Zbigniew Brzezinski faulted Clinton for failing to develop a new strategy to take advantage of the opportunities opened by unipolarity. 

In contrast, Bush’s 2002 National Security Strategy, which came to be called the Bush Doctrine, proclaimed that the United States would “identify and eliminate terrorists wherever they are, together with the regimes that sustain them.” Preemption was a third element: America would not wait to act until after it was attacked. A fourth component of the doctrine was what Bush called his “freedom agenda.” The solution to the roots of the terrorist problem was to spread democracy everywhere. In an outburst of enthusiasm at the time, Gaddis called it “‘Fukuyama plus force,’ and designed to make terrorism as obsolete as slavery or piracy. . . . Iraq was the most feasible place to strike the next blow.” 

This is not the place to rehearse the problems of the Iraq War. Bush invaded Iraq ostensibly to change the regime and to remove Saddam Hussein’s capacity to use weapons of mass destruction. While he did not do enough to question the intelligence or manage the process, he cannot be blamed for the intelligence failure that attributed such weapons to Saddam since such estimates were widely shared by many other countries. While no weapons were found, American forces quickly overthrew Saddam. But the removal of Saddam did not accomplish the mission, and inadequate understanding of the context plus poor planning and management undercut Bush’s transformational objectives. While some Bush administration defenders try to trace the causes of the 2011 Arab revolutions to American policies in Iraq, such arguments oversimplify causation and are denied by many of the primary Arab participants. 

At home the Democrats were able to use Bush’s foreign policy problems to win elections in 2006 and 2008 that repudiated his policies. Barack Obama won the presidency on a promise of withdrawal from Iraq, a more modest approach to regime change, and the view expressed in his inaugural address that “our power grows through its prudent use.” While it is still too early for a definitive historical judgment on the Iraq War, what is clear at this point is that the twenty-first century opened with a crisis that led to failed transformational leadership. The leader lost his followers. 

It is interesting to compare Bush with the transformational leaders of the twentieth century that we have examined. George W. Bush is described as obsessed by the idea of being a transformational president; not a status quo operator like Bill Clinton. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the virtues of “transformational diplomacy,” and veterans of the first Bush presidency like Brent Scowcroft observed that in 2003 the main divisions in foreign policy were not between liberals and conservatives, but between traditionalists and transformationalists. Despite their shared genes, the policy of George W. Bush could not have been more different from that of his father. Members of the younger Bush’s administration often compared him to Ronald Reagan or Harry Truman, but the twentieth- century president he most resembled was Woodrow Wilson. 

Highway to East Asia


As important as the new bilateral treaty on extradition with Thailand, the progress made in finalising the trilateral highway through Myanmar marks an important milestone in India’s relations with its eastern neighbours. After concluding a productive visit to Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wound up his trip with a useful stopover in Bangkok. Though it took two decades for the extradition treaty to be negotiated, it has finally been signed and New Delhi can look forward to some tangible results. A longish list of wanted men is already with Thailand, and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has promised to expedite the process of extraditing those wanted in India, including Sayed Ahmed Ali Kari alias Munna, alleged to be involved in major cases in Mumbai. Apart from making it easier for India to get hold of fugitives, the treaty will give a boost to intelligence sharing and wider bilateral cooperation against terrorism, money laundering, organised crime, drug trafficking and counterfeiting. It has been India’s argument all along that many organised groups indulge in serious crime in India and escape to Thailand, getting away from the long arms of law. The fact that Thailand had emerged as somewhat of a haven for Indian criminals has done Bangkok’s image no credit. The push to shut down safe havens for Indian insurgents in Bangladesh has proved to be a win-win situation for both countries. 

Equally significant on India’s borders with Southeast Asia is the trilateral highway that will connect Manipur and other northeastern States with Thailand through Myanmar. Also hanging fire since the first decade of this century is the proposal for a trans-Asian railway line that will allow the movement of goods and people from Camranh Bay to the Caspian. India needs to pursue both projects seriously with ASEAN, especially the highway which is tantalisingly within reach. India has already extended a $500 million loan to Myanmar, which will also fund the trilateral highway. This project should substantially increase border trade with Myanmar, which has not picked up the way it should have because of infrastructure bottlenecks on both sides of the border but especially inside Myanmar. India and ASEAN have become such close partners that the highway project assumes greater significance. Thailand is already well linked to Malaysia and Singapore, which means that the trilateral highway to Mae Sot in Thailand could in effect connect India with four of its Southeast Asian friends. Connectivity through Myanmar is the bottleneck. New Delhi and Bangkok should work together with Nay Pyi Taw to ensure rapid completion of the missing link. 

Battle for justice reaches Geneva

Manipuri widow questions India’s dismal law enforcement mechanism 

 01 Jun 2013

Janardan Goswami in Guwahati on Friday. 
Picture by UB Photos 

Imphal, May 31: A Manipuri widow’s cry for justice rang out during the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council this morning, as she questioned gaps in UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns’s report on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. 

Neena Ningobam, who represented the Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families’ Association, Manipur, of which she is the secretary, and the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) at the session in Geneva today, spoke about extra-judicial executions in India and South Asia in context of the report filed by Heyns to the council. 

This was stated in a joint release issued by the two organisations from Hong Kong today. 

While the resource centre is an independent regional NGO holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN, the victims’ association is a Manipur-based organisation, comprising primarily of members who had lost near and dear ones to fake encounters by security forces. 

Heyns, who had visited India in March, stated in his report, released early this month, that the army act ran counter to the principles of democracy and human rights and its repeal would bring domestic law more in line with international standards. 

Speaking to the council today, Neena said, “The Constitution of India guarantees the right to life and fair trial of all citizens. Yet, today I am a widow, having lost my husband to state agencies.” 

She said after murdering her husband, the government had branded him a terrorist and denied her all state welfare schemes for widows. 

Terming the charge baseless, she said she had fought an uphill legal battle for four years to clear her husband’s name. 

“Today I stand along with thousands of widows, whose loved ones were extra-judicially executed, particularly in the Northeast and Kashmir of India, where, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 is in operation,” she said. 

She told the council that following a petition seeking inquiry into 1,528 such cases the Supreme Court had appointed a high-power commission to look into the same. “Unfortunately, the commission's report was not made available to the petitioners and the public. We sincerely hope that the court will release the report, the contents of which we are entitled to as the petitioners in the case, in furtherance of the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions,” she said. 

The risk of lopsided trade with China

By Brahma C 

Asymmetric trade with China is exposing India to strategic risks even as it furthers Beijing’s

Chinese territorial assertiveness is obscuring how Beijing is strategically expanding lopsided trade with India to rake in mounting profits while undercutting Indian manufacturing through an avalanche of cheap Chinese-made products. China’s ballooning trade surplus with India is compounded by its import of mainly primary commodities while exporting finished products.

Perpetuating such an asymmetrical relationship presents India in an unflattering light as a raw material appendage of, and a goods-dumping market for, the Chinese economy. More importantly, the lopsided economic engagement gives China little incentive to bridge a widening political divide with India. If anything, it encourages China to continue with a strategy to keep India under strategic pressure so as to regionally contain it.

With China exporting more than 2½ times as much as it imports, its already large trade surplus will swell if bilateral trade rises from $70 billion currently to the targeted $100 billion in 2015. Economic problems in the West, by contributing to a slowdown in China, have only increased the importance of the Indian market for Beijing. This is what prompted Premier Li Keqiang to choose India as his first overseas destination for an official visit. This factor has also encouraged China’s cash-rich, state-supported banks to offer debt financing to heavily indebted Indian companies that commit to buy Chinese equipment or supply raw materials.

While swamping the Indian market with its products, China has made it difficult for Indian exporters to gain much of a foothold in its own market, including in sectors where India is strong, such as pharmaceuticals and IT. As a result, India’s exports to China largely consist of low-margin, unprocessed commodities. India’s exports have actually slumped since 2012, in part because of legal and other wrangles at home over extraction of iron ore—the leading export item in the past decade to China—which conserves its own reserves of strategic mineral ores to rely on imports.

China’s increasing access to the Indian market has done little to encourage it to pursue a less-adversarial foreign policy. Indeed, the more profits China has reaped, the more assertive it has become. As India’s trade deficit with China has soared from just $1 billion in 2002 to $40 billion in 2013 (or one-third of India’s overall trade deficit), Beijing has, for example, openly challenged Indian sovereignty in the large eastern and western sectors of the Himalayas by playing the Arunachal and Kashmir cards.

Instead of calibrating China’s market access to progress on the political, territorial and water resource issues, a politically adrift India is unwittingly doing just the opposite—allowing Beijing to strengthen its leverage against it.

China has effectively turned asymmetrical trade into another instrument to prevent India’s rise as a peer competitor. In fact, China is now leveraging its trade and financial clout—including its role as a major supplier of power and telecom equipment and its emergence as a lender to financially troubled Indian companies—to limit India’s options on countering the Chinese strategic encirclement.

The paradox is that, despite the supply of turbines and other equipment, most Chinese exports are not technology items but cheap products that kill small-scale manufacturing and rob jobs in India, with some of them also posing safety risks or public health concerns. The bilateral focus on trade, even as China builds up strategic pressure along multiple flanks, aids the Chinese win-win agenda to reap profits while continuing to hem in India.

Consequently, the politics and economics of the relationship are going in opposite directions, to India’s serious detriment. India wrongly bet on rapidly growing trade helping to mute political disputes and moderate Chinese conduct so as to create an environment conducive to the settlement of outstanding issues.

A Meeting of Two Asian Giants

May 30, 2013 

China’s new prime minister, Li Keqiang, recently made his first official visit to India. The trip took place only a month after the two Asian giants had a tense standoff over their unresolved border dispute. The symbolism of choosing India as the first destination for an official visit by the new Chinese leader, despite the turbulence on other issues, was duly noted by the media in both countries. 

In mid April, Delhi was taken aback by an incursion of Chinese PLA border troops into what was perceived as Indian territory in the western sector of the 2,500-mile border. The Chinese troops, in an unusual departure from a two-decade-old practice, unstated but de-facto, erected tents twelve miles into the Indian side. At the time, it seemed as if the bilateral relationship was steadily deteriorating, and some quarters in India speculated that this was a replay of the border war of October 1962. 

But to the credit of both sides’ political leadership, the tension was dissipated when the Chinese troops pulled back. That ensured that there was no hiccup to mar Li’s visit. India remains baffled by this unexpected Chinese military assertiveness. In an intriguing move, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid visited Beijing on the eve of the Li visit to Delhi, but did not raise the intrusion incident in any visible manner. Both sides photoshopped the incident, and a brittle standoff over disputed territoriality with no easy solution in sight was prudently avoided. 

Did India prevail upon Beijing to withdraw, or did it appease the new Chinese leadership? The answer isn’t publicly known. 

While the Li visit did not lead to any major breakthrough (and none was expected) the joint statement issued by the two countries on May 20 is cause for cautious optimism. The opening section recalled the commitment made by both sides to peace and amity (based on the Buddhist concept of “panchashila,” the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence) and expanded their vision to dwell on the global relevance of a stable bilateral relationship. 

In a grand sweep, it noted that 

India and China have a historic opportunity for economic and social development and the realization of this goal will advance peace and prosperity in Asia and the world at large. The two sides welcome each other's peaceful development and regard it as a mutually reinforcing process. There is enough space in the world for the development of India and China, and the world needs the common development of both countries. As the two largest developing countries in the world, the relationship between India and China transcends bilateral scope and has acquired regional, global and strategic significance. Both countries view each other as partners for mutual benefit and not as rivals or competitors. 

Notwithstanding the post-1949 historical experience that animates the troubled India-China relationship, the vision and objectives outlined by Singh and Li are unexceptionable. Both Asian giants have the potential to contribute significantly to global peace and prosperity in the next century, but the devil is in the details. 

America's China mistake

As Beijing becomes more bellicose, Washington clings to the hope that military-to-military relations will somehow relieve tensions. They won't.

By Gordon G. Chang and James A. Lyons Jr. 
May 30, 2013 

China's navy has been invited to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific naval exercise to be held off Hawaii. (Andy Wong / Associated Press / May 29, 2013) 

This spring, China's navy accepted the Pentagon's invitation to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific — RIMPAC — naval exercise to be held off Hawaii. This will be the first time China takes part in the biennial event. 

Our allies should signal their intent to withdraw from the exercise if China participates. Failing that, the invitation should be withdrawn. RIMPAC is for allies and friends, not nations planning to eventually wage war on the United States. Russia sent ships in 2012, but while its senior officers may occasionally utter unfriendly words, they are not actively planning to fight the United States. Analyst Robert Sutter was surely correct when he wrote in 2005 that "China is the only large power in the world preparing to shoot Americans." 

That assessment, unfortunately, remains true today. Beijing is configuring its forces — especially its navy — to fight ours. For instance, China has deployed along its southern coast its DF-21D, a two-stage solid-fuel missile that can be guided by satellite signals. The missile is dubbed the "carrier killer" because it can be configured to explode in midair, raining down sharp metal on a deck crowded with planes, ordinance, fuel and sailors. Its apparent intent is to drive U.S. forces out of East Asia. 

A pattern of aggressive Chinese tactics also points in that direction. Especially troubling is the harassment in international waters of unarmed U.S. Navy reconnaissance vessels for more than a decade, most notably the blocking of the Impeccable in the South China Sea in 2009. And there was the 2001 downing of a Navy EP-3 and the surfacing of a Song-class attack submarine in the middle of the Kitty Hawk strike group near Okinawa in 2006. 

Since then, we have been hearing bold war talk in the Chinese capital, from new leader Xi Jinping to senior officers and colonels who say they relish combat — a "hand-to-hand fight with the U.S.," as one of them put it in 2010. 

Why do China's officers want to go to war? There is an unfortunate confluence of factors. First, there is a new Chinese confidence bordering on arrogance. Beijing leaders, especially since 2008, have been riding high. They saw economic turmoil around the world and thought the century was theirs to dominate. The U.S. and the rest of the West, they believed, were in terminal decline. 

The Chinese military also has gained substantial influence in the last year, perhaps becoming the most powerful faction in the Communist Party. Beginning as early as 2003, senior officers of the People's Liberation Army were drawn into civilian power struggles as Hu Jintao, then the new leader, sought their support in his effort to shove aside Jiang Zemin, his wily predecessor who sought to linger in the limelight. Last year, the civilian infighting intensified as the so-called Fifth Generation leadership, under the command of Xi, took over from Hu's Fourth. Like a decade ago, feuding civilians sought the support of the generals and admirals, making them arbiters in the party's increasingly rough game of politics. 

Nepal tactics, without the strategy

By Prashant Jha 
June 1, 2013 

Maoist combatants at a function to hand over command of Maoist fighters to the government at the Maoist cantonment in Chitwan in January, 2011.

The Maoists may be escalating the conflict to ‘expose the state’ and divide mainstream parties, but without an attainable goal, their battles will be futile 

On November 23, 2001, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) attacked an army barrack in western Nepal. The move shook the Nepali polity, for the rebels had been in ceasefire talks with the government for the preceding five months. Violence resumed. 

More significantly, the Maoists had, for the first time, directly hit the army. Till then, as fierce battles raged between the Nepal Police and the Maoists, the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) — even when it was in the vicinity — looked the other way. It had then seemed unfathomable why the Maoists would draw the RNA into the conflict. Kathmandu’s commentators concluded that the rebels had committed ‘political suicide’. RNA generals declared that they would defeat the insurgency in six months. 

Like their Nepali counterparts in 2001, in Chhattisgarh the Indian Maoists have made a move which will lead to an escalation of an already violent conflict. 

Fortunately —for the Indian political system, their institutional interests, and the people in the conflict zone — the Indian Army has stayed away from the battles in central India so far. But stories emanating from the Home Ministry in Delhi indicate a renewed determination to step up the security offensive. Numbed by the attack, Ministers who earlier understood the limits of the security approach have declared the rebels as ‘terrorists’. ‘Security analysts’ have jumped at the opportunity to portray constitutionalists, liberals and human rights activists as somehow complicit in the attack — arguing it is time to go the whole way in ‘eliminating red terror’, irrespective of the ‘collateral damage’. This narrative conveniently ignores the fact that the security operations have never let up and the state, overtly and covertly, has invested enormous resources to fight the Maoists. In fact, in the past few months itself, the Maoists have suffered losses in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra. 

Sharpening polarisation 

The current rhetoric in Delhi would be music to the ears of the Maoist leadership, for this is precisely the kind of belligerence they are hoping to ignite. 

If the Nepali experience of high-profile attacks is any guide, the Indian Maoists have sought to project power. This would be a much-needed morale-booster to the organisation’s rank-and-file after a series of setbacks. It would have satisfied the impulses for revenge among a large section of South Bastar’s population, who have suffered due to the Salwa Judum experiment led by Mahendra Karma. The attack would be an effective medium to silence political rivals seeking to challenge the Maoists in the region and beyond. 

A Shameful Neglect

It's time to stop pretending that America's in Afghanistan to help women. 

MAY 31, 2013 

Afghanistan's iniquities are grotesque. At Kabul University last week, zealots -- all men -- protested a law that would abolish child marriage, forced marriage, marital rape, and the odious practice, called ba'ad, of giving girls away to settle offenses or debts. Meanwhile, in jails all over the country, 600 women, the highest number since the fall of the Taliban, await trial on charges of such moral transgressions as having been raped or running away from abusive homes. 

It is tempting to wring our hands at such obscene bigotry, to pity Afghanistan's women and vilify its men. Instead, we must look squarely at our own complicity in the shameful circumstances of Afghan women, billions of international aid dollars and 12 years after U.S. warplanes first bombed their ill-starred land. 

I have been traveling to Afghanistan since 2001, mostly to its hardscrabble hinterland, where the majority of Afghans live. Over the years, I have cooked rice and traded jewelry with Afghan women, cradled their anemic children, and fallen asleep under communal blankets in their cramped mud-brick homes. I have seen firsthand that the aid we give ostensibly to improve their lives almost never makes it to these women. Today, just as 12 years ago, most of them still have no clean drinking water, sanitation, or electricity; the nearest clinic is still often a half day's walk away, and the only readily available palliative is opium. Afghan mothers still watch their infants die at the highest rate in the world, mostly of waterborne diseases such as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis, and typhoid. 

Instead of fixing women's lives, our humanitarian aid subsidizes Afghanistan's kleptocrats, erects miniature Versailles in Kabul and Dubai for the families of the elite, and buys the loyalty of sectarian warlords-turned-politicians, some of whom are implicated in sectarian war crimes that include rape. Yet, for the most part, the U.S. taxpayers look the other way as the country's amoral government steals or hands out as political kickbacks the money that was meant to help Afghan women -- all in the name of containing what we consider the greater evil, the Taliban insurgency. In other words, we have made a trade-off. We have joined a kind of a collective ba'ad, a political deal for which the Afghan women are the price. 

Recipe for Disaster: Israel & Pakistan’s Sea-Based Nukes

By Iskander Rehman 
May 31, 2013 

Both Israel and Pakistan look to the sea to provide strategic depth. It’s a quest that could undermine stability.

The policy of a nation, Napoleon once quipped, can be read in its geography. For much of human history, the verity of such an assertion would have appeared self-evident. After all, what is geostrategy if not a state’s chosen response to a preexisting spatial reality? For many thinkers of the early modern era, a country’s geographical position shaped its strategic behavior, whether in times of peace or war. Maritime powers, some have noted, appear both more democratic and inclined to pursue alliances than their territorially obsessed continental counterparts. Amidst the swirling tides of global geopolitics, geography formed a key fundamental — an enduring physical truth — providing a degree of structure and continuity to otherwise arcane national strategies. 

The dawn of the nuclear age, however, greatly eroded the importance attached to the study of maps. Nuclear weapons, with their terrifying and seemingly indiscriminate power for destruction, seemed to render cartographic musings somewhat irrelevant. In an era where the devastating effects of a single bomb could extend over land and sea, casting their radioactive shadow over bustling cities and sleepy hamlets alike; what did it matter whether a nation was urban or rural, maritime or continental? 

The assumption that geographical factors play only a minor role in the formulation of nuclear strategy is, however, deeply flawed. Territorial insecurity and the attendant quest for strategic depth are profoundly embedded within the nuclear strategies of small to medium-sized powers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the evolving naval nuclear postures of two nations, which would seem, at first glance, to have little in common: Pakistan and Israel. Indeed, irrespective of numerous sizable differences — both in terms of institutional history and strategic culture — the nuclear force structures adopted by both countries’ small navies are disturbingly similar. In both cases, the perceived pressures of geography have played an enormous role in the conceptualization of naval nuclear deterrence. 

Continental Suffocation, Maritime Oxygenation 

Both Israel and Pakistan have decided to field tactical nuclear weapons aboard their small flotillas of diesel-electric submarines. While Pakistan is a declared nuclear power and Israel has opted to pursue a policy of nuclear ambiguity for the past four decades, both nations’ military thinkers echo each other in their frequent referrals to the sea as a source of strategic depth. This shared emphasis stems, in large part, from their growing sense of continental claustrophia. Both countries are territorially shallow, and resulting sentiments of vulnerability have helped shape and sustain already potent senses of embattlement. 

Pak will remain major player in Afghanistan: US report

June 01, 2013 

Pakistan is and will remain a major player in the final outcome in Afghanistan, an American think-tank has said, asserting that economic incentives can be given to Islamabad if it takes steps to restrain the Taliban operating from sanctuaries on its soil.

"The truth is still this: 

Pakistan is, and will remain, a major player in the final outcome in Afghanistan, and Washington's approach in this situation should be to continue to work on interpersonal relationships among key leaders, as well as coordination and cooperation along borders where enemies of one country or the other often cross," a Center for a New American Security (CNAS) report has said.

In the report, authored by two former top defense officials of the Obama Administration, the CNAS calls for providing incentives to Pakistan, like free trade accord or aid for a regional energy sector, provided Islamabad restrains the activities of the Taliban within its territory. 

The report is co-authored by former US Afghanistan commander retired General John Allen, the former Pentagon Undersecretary for Policy Michele Flournoy and Brookings senior fellow Michael O'Hanlon. 

"These things should be done in tandem with Afghan leaders at every step. Beyond that, measures towards deeper economic integration may be possible with Pakistan (such as a free trade accord or aid for a regional energy sector) - provided that Islamabad takes significant and effective steps to restrain the Afghan Taliban operating from sanctuaries on its soil," the report said. 

"Realistically, this agenda may not yield great fruit by the end of 2014, but it is still the right way to play for the long run," said the 16-page report released on Friday. 

As for Pakistan's motives and goals, Islamabad and Washington have had such a troubled history that there is deep distrust and even a degree of pathology in the relationship, it said. 

"That helps explain why some in Pakistan, fearful of future Indian dominance of the wrong type of Afghan government and dubious that the US and its partners will really remain committed to Afghanistan's future stability, continue to hedge by supporting the Taliban as an insurance policy even now," it said. 

"There may be other Pakistani motives at work in the nation's Afghanistan policy, too, including the hegemonic desire to dominate a smaller neighbour. In fairness, it is unclear how much influence and/or control Pakistan can really exert over Taliban elements in Pakistan," the report said.

Engage with Iran in Afghanistan

May 30, 2013 

Despite the U.S. plan to withdraw from Afghanistan in late 2014, Washington is likely to maintain a presence of around 10,000 civilian and military personnel. The need to protect the security of those remaining forces requires the United States to engage Afghanistan’s neighbors—including Iran—during the transition. 

The Taliban and Al Qaeda were originally created in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Thus, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Iran fully backed the U.S. war on terror. Tehran also served as the key diplomatic liaison at the 2001 Bonn Conference, which streamlined the efforts of the United States and UN to manage the Afghan crisis. This displayed the pragmatic side of Iranian foreign policy and a desire to contribute to a stable Afghanistan. For example, Iran was instrumental in establishing international legitimacy for the Kabul government by insisting the word “democracy” was introduced in the agreement. But in return for such unprecedented overtures, President George W. Bush labeled Iran as part of the “Axis of Evil.” 

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan provides another opportunity for practical reengagement with Iran. After nearly a decade of involvement in the region, Washington should consider Tehran as a potential strategic partner to enhance the prospects for a peaceful exit and stable Afghanistan. 

Iran’s interests in Afghanistan include a 600-miles common border, and the threat posed to Iranian health and security by the cross-border narcotics trade. Afghanistan produces nearly 90 percent of the world’s opium. Half of that amount enters Iran, costing the country over $1 billion annually in its war on drugs. The National Drug Control Headquarters of Iran (DCHQ) has declared drug addiction to be the country’s “largest social harm and a major threat for the national health and security,” as well as the main “hurdle” for development. The number of individuals infected with HIV in Iran has doubled since 2001, to about 91,000, and up to 70 percent of infections may be transmitted by dirty syringes. 

But Iranian interests in Afghanistan extend beyond drugs. Since 1979, approximately 16,000 Iranian border agents have been killed or wounded in the line of duty. Iran still hosts more than a million illegal Afghan workers and refugees who have strong cultural and religious ties to Iran. There is also the question of water security, as Iran’s arid east relies heavily on waters that originate in the mountains of central Afghanistan. Finally, cross-border activity from Pakistan and Afghanistan by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Jundullah is one of the main security concerns facing Iran. 

The United States and Iran continue to have some convergent interests in Afghanistan. These include achieving lasting improvements in governance in Kabul; preventing the flow of drugs and other illicit goods; addressing the Afghan refugee crisis; making Afghanistan a reliable trading partner and promoting regional trade and transit routes by reviving the Silk Road initiative; enhancing the capabilities of the Afghan security forces by training them at the federal and provincial level; and promoting national reconciliation, including the reintegration of moderate Taliban forces into the system. 

Keep Your Eye on Oman

May 30, 2013

Stratfor regularly highlights countries that the media overlooks but that are nevertheless geopolitically important. Poland and Azerbaijan are good examples. Poland, especially if Russia can undermine the independence of Ukraine, is the bellwether state of Central-Eastern Europe. Western-leaning Azerbaijan, wealthy in hydrocarbons, adjoins Iran and is the potential political heartland of Iran's powerful Azeri Turk minority. Oman, at the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, also belongs in this category. Indeed, the Greater Indian Ocean will be the maritime organizing principle of the 21st century world, and perhaps no country (other than India itself) sits astride it more than Oman. Remember that the Arabian Sea -- the entire western half of the Indian Ocean -- used to be called the Sea of Oman. 

Oman occupies the most central maritime transshipment point between the Indian subcontinent and Africa, the two regions of the world that will see the largest population growth and perhaps the largest growth of middle classes in coming decades. Oman, moreover, is geographically situated between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two great rival sectarian states in the Muslim Middle East. Not surprisingly, Oman has often served as a quiet, diplomatic go-between for Iran and the United States. 

Oman's diplomatic value underscores how its locational advantages are amplified by its political ones. In Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, Oman quite simply has the best educated and among the most enlightened leaders in the Arab world. He is an absolute ruler with sophisticated liberal values. When the Arab Spring led to sustained protests in the capital of Muscat, Sohar and other Omani cities, Qaboos deftly allowed the demonstrations to proceed, then strengthened the role of the elected Shura Council, replaced older ministers with young ones, arrested some of the protest leaders and in general maneuvered in such a way that while the authorities were heavily criticized, his own prestige and power were largely unaffected. Thus, he has emerged from the Arab Spring in a comparatively stronger position vis-a-vis other leaders in the Middle East. 

Oman now finds itself in the difficult but enviable position of being able to concentrate on the ultimate challenge of modern societies: building responsive and transparent institutions that ultimately make the role of the ruler himself less paramount. Of course, this is the task of societies throughout the Middle East, but few can conduct this experiment under such advantageous conditions as Oman: A country with a deeply respected ruler who is not under political siege, and who also has access to hydrocarbon revenues for at least another decade or so. 

Certainly, Oman's political transition is not without grave risks. Sultan Qaboos is in his 70s and in uncertain health, without an obvious successor. Nevertheless, stability, like power itself, is relative. And relatively speaking, Oman's political prospects look brighter than many other places in the Arab world. Therefore, given Oman's reasonably secure political outlook, let's look more closely at geopolitical and geo-economic developments here.

Oman is taking advantage of its Indian Ocean centrality by building and enlarging a network of ports -- Salalah, Duqm, Muscat and Sohar. Salalah, in the southwestern province of Dhofar -- close to the border with Yemen -- has the advantage of ultra-transshipment centrality between India and Africa and between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. In the world of container traffic, Salalah already is a transshipment point for the entire navigable, southern rimland of Eurasia from northeastern Asia to East Africa and the Suez Canal. Salalah's expected further expansion will benefit from this fact. Salalah, moreover, lies safely outside the Persian Gulf -- as, especially, does Sohar at the other end of Oman, close to the Strait of Hormuz. 

There are plans to link Sohar and Salalah by road, rail and perhaps even pipelines to ports in the United Arab Emirates (like Jebel Ali) and as far north as Kuwait. Were there ever a military cataclysm in the Gulf -- inside the Strait of Hormuz, that is -- Omani ports could figure more prominently. 

By using Salalah, ships en route from Asia or the Indian subcontinent to Africa or the Mediterranean need not steer off course into the Persian Gulf. By using Sohar, ships avoid passing through the narrow and potentially treacherous Strait of Hormuz while still (in the future) being connected by road or rail to nearby ports inside the strait. Duqm, more or less midway between Salalah and Sohar, will serve to connect Salalah and Sohar on the same rail network. The development of Duqm serves the unstated political purpose of keeping Oman's somewhat disparate regions economically united. 

For the time being, Oman's ports and geography will be important to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. military transport planes will be flying equipment from Afghanistan to the Omani airfield at Thumrait in western Dhofar, which is only a short drive to Salalah port. (Because of the high plateau where Thumrait sits, the airfield carries the benefit of lying outside the coastal monsoon belt.) For this and other reasons, Oman sees regular visits by the combatant commander of U.S. Central Command and other U. S. four-star generals. Indeed, U.S. P-3 surveillance planes already fly out of Masirah, an island off north-central Oman, and Oman remains critical for American plans to locate 80 percent of its air and naval assets inside the Persian Gulf region but outside the Strait of Hormuz. 

Assad's Symbolic Missile Defense

May 31, 2013 

In justifying its decision to sell Syria the S300, a sophisticated $800 million anti-aircraft and missile defense system, Russia argued that it was making the move to deter foreign powers from intervening in Syria. In reality, the S300 will do nothing of the sort in the short run and may not even do so in the next couple of years. 

The S300 system is exceedingly large and complex. It would take many years to train Syrian officers to master its multiple capabilities. Unless the Russians are going to man it themselves in the interim, the current Syrian regime may be gone before its military can grasp the technology. Even then, it will take time to ship from Russia and deploy amidst the chaos and confusion of a civil war, notwithstanding Damascus's announcement that some of the system's components have already reached Syria. 

The S300 is a formidable system. It tracks and engages numerous targets simultaneously, and also employs a radar system that allows the operator to peep deep into the airspace of adversaries. In Syria’s hands, this radar system would allow Damascus and its allies to see any and all aircraft taking off at distances of 225 miles. This is what makes the system so destabilizing in a region where distances are not so large. 

In 1998, the Cypriot government signed a contract to buy an S300 system from Russia, which would have been deployed against Turkey. This created an unprecedented diplomatic crisis. Cypriot radars would have been able to see and target much of the Turkish airspace. Ankara threatened to bomb them as soon as they arrived on the island. After months of negotiations, brokered by the United States and others, the crisis was eventually resolved when the Cypriots, having signed the deal and committed to pay for the system, agreed reluctantly to transfer it to Greece. NATO member Greece then deployed the sophisticated Russian system on the island of Crete. 

For the very same reason, Israel is also threatening to take out the missiles if they arrive in Syria. But perhaps they need not worry. NATO and Western militaries (including Israel) have had access to the S300s in Crete for more than a decade and thus have had many opportunities to train against them. By now they have mastered their weaknesses. In fact, there were rumors that in the days of close Turkish-Israeli relations, the Israeli Air Force helped train its Turkish counterpart on how to operate against the S300s. 

Creating foes to fill the void

By Arvind Sivaramakrishnan 
01 Jun 2013

There are no logical explanations why the U.S. repeats its failed policies, creating hatred for itself even in countries where there has been very little anti-Americanism 

President Barack Obama’s announcement on April 30 renewing his 2008 election campaign promise to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, where 166 men are still being held without charge or trial, has attracted worldwide interest, but it has also diverted attention from two other highly significant issues. One is that of the juridical principles involved in any serious attempt to achieve closure, physical and political, over Guantánamo, and the other is the increasing use by the United States of drone warfare against ill-defined target populations, which is fuelling fierce anti-Americanism in at least one country where that has not been a feature hitherto. 

Hunger strike 

Mr. Obama now says Guantánamo is not necessary to “keep America safe”, adding that it is inefficient, damages the standing of the U.S., lessens counter-terrorism cooperation with U.S. allies, and is a “recruitment tool” for extremists. He has also asked officials to review operations at Guantánamo. The immediate cause of the announcement is probably publicity over the hunger strike at Guantánamo, which is in its third month and now involves over 100 of the detainees, at least 23 of whom are being shackled for force-feeding by nasal tubes; some are very close to death. Many have been incarcerated for 11 years already, and are rightly bitter about their continued and apparently endless detention. A senior U.S. officer involved, General John Kelly, has told Congress that the inmates were “devastated” when the President, early in his first term, backed away from closing Guantánamo and then failed to move the inmates to a federal prison on the U.S. mainland. 

The restatement of the plan to close Guantánamo is, nevertheless, more than a response to the hunger strike, which started on February 6, apparently in protest against the seizure of prisoners’ belongings and guards’ alleged mishandling of inmates’ copies of the Koran. Initially, administration officials repeated what they had said during a hunger strike in 2006, claiming that the prisoners were only trying to attract media attention. Yet the President has now moved, apparently decisively, back to his earlier position, and much of what he says is accurate. At $150 million a year, Guantánamo currently costs about $900,000 per prisoner annually, in contrast to the $70,000 or so that each inmate costs the public purse even in maximum-security jails on the mainland. Secondly, the President has long known that the very existence of Guantánamo is a smear on the reputation of the United States, and his further comment that the prison is not necessary to keep his country safe implies that the release of prisoners can be resumed. Longer-term problems are also emerging, such as the deterioration of the camp’s buildings, which were meant to be temporary, and the fact that the medical staff may well lack the facilities or expertise to manage chronic conditions as the prisoners grow older. 

Mr. Obama has, however, spoken only in instrumental and policy terms, and has avoided fundamental juridical principles which Guantánamo raises. The U.S. Congress has often blocked his plans to close the camp, but he has himself signed legislation restricting the transfer of detainees to other countries; this covers some of the 89 already cleared for release. Secondly, Congress has given the Department of Defense power to waive restrictions case by case, but the executive has not used that power; the legislature has also refused to fund certain relevant procedures. Furthermore, a former detainee’s lawyer, David Frakt, writing in the online journal, Jurist, notes that the National Defense Authorization Act requires a court order, such as a habeas corpus writ, before an inmate can be transferred, but that the current habeas corpus review is on the legality of detention at the time of capture and not on continued detention. 

The Trust Deficit:How the U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia looks from Beijing

By He Yafei, deputy director, Overseas Chinese Affairs Office
May 20, 2013

This is a crucial moment for Sino-U.S. relations, as heated debates about the future of this relationship rage in both countries -- debates characterized by downright pessimism, with only a sliver of optimism. Here in Beijing, we are asking: Is U.S. President Barack Obama's policy toward China undermining the already flimsy strategic trust between the two countries? Is it possible for China and the United States to build a new type of great-power relationship, one that can help us avoid confrontation and conflict? Can China and the United States work together to play a leadership role in global governance to meet such urgent global challenges as nonproliferation and climate change? 

Obama's "pivot" to -- or "rebalancing" toward -- Asia and the Pacific, in both words and deeds, has aroused a great deal of suspicion in China. These suspicions deepen when the United States gets itself entangled in China's dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands and in the debates over maritime issues in the South China Sea. Should this ill-thought-out policy of rebalancing continue and the security environment worsen, an arms race would be inevitable. China, despite its intention to pursue a strategy of peaceful development, might be forced to revisit some aspects of its policy for the region. That is something China abhors. We understand that a peaceful and prosperous world starts with your neighborhood -- just as a stable and good Sino-U.S. relationship also starts in our two countries' neighborhood, the Asia-Pacific region. 

From the Chinese perspective, the United States is the only power capable of creating a negative external environment for China. This is why China carefully scrutinizes what the Obama administration does and tries to understand what it will do. But we also understand that it is in China's long-term interest -- as well as that of the entire region -- to develop and maintain stable, healthy relations with the United States. And we think that there are many common interests that should serve as a basis for a cooperative relationship. 

It is clear to all that the world's balance of power is shifting in favor of China and other emerging countries, though the United States maintains its strength in the economic, science-and-technology, military, and cultural fields. However, this "one up, other down" trend that has been accelerating since the 2008 financial crisis has intensified U.S. strategic uncertainty about China. We believe this is why the United States has been increasing its strategic hedging by deploying more and more of its military assets to the Western Pacific and by strengthening its military alliances with Japan, Australia, South Korea, and others in the region. 
Clearly, a huge deficit of strategic trust lies at the bottom of all problems between China and the United States. Some scholars have hinted that U.S.-China trust is at its lowest since U.S. President Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China. But history is a mirror. And from a historical perspective China and the United States, despite their differences, have many things in common, and there is no reason for them to distrust each other. Granted, China has achieved spectacular economic growth over the past several decades, which has made its military modernization possible. But isn't this a product of the globalization espoused by the United States? Isn't it a fact that China's growth has contributed hugely to world peace and prosperity? 

During World War II, China and the United States were allies, and together with others, they built the international system in which we now interact. A recent example is the joint efforts by China and the United States in tackling the international financial crisis within the framework of the G-20. We cannot claim that this cooperation between the two countries prevented the world economy from collapsing, but it would not be too off the mark to say that without such cooperation, the world today would be a totally different place. 

Now, a new type of relationship between China and the United States requires changing the outdated view of a rivalry among great powers for spheres of influence and the inevitability of a confrontation between existing and aspiring powers. This relationship instead calls for dialogue and cooperation to expand common interests and reduce suspicions and vicious competition. China and the United States must try their utmost to avoid strategic quagmire and rivalry during this period of historic convergence and join hands in building a community of nations bent on peaceful development through cooperation and coordination.