8 June 2013

Seeing the World Through Putin's Eyes

June 6, 2013


Few people comprehend Russia's vulnerabilities like its leader, Vladimir Putin. He must try to govern a country that extends through nearly half the longitudes of the earth but that has fewer people than Bangladesh. What's more, Russia's population is declining, not increasing. All the Arctic seas to Russia's north are ice-blocked many months of the year, so with the exception of its Far East, Russia is essentially a landlocked nation. Moreover, Russia's flat topography affords little natural protection and is therefore bereft of natural borders. Land powers, as they have no seas to protect them, are more insecure than island nations and continents like the United States and Great Britain. 

But Russia is particularly insecure. 

Putin knows that it hasn't been just the French and the Germans who have invaded Russia from the west in centuries past, but Swedes, Poles, and Lithuanians, too. So Putin must seek a buffer zone in Eastern Europe; Russian history demands no less of him. This is not the recreation of the Warsaw Pact we are talking about. For the need to economically support disparate states in Eastern Europe for half a century was a burden that helped topple the Soviet Union. Putin knows, therefore, that Russia cannot rule Eastern Europe. But he does require a degree of diplomatic and economic acquiescence in order to keep countries like Poland and Romania hobbled. Given that such countries are members of NATO and the European Union, this is a constant -- perhaps impossible -- challenge. 

Putin is happy that Russia's geography grants him access to massive natural gas deposits, as well as the pathways to export that natural gas to Europe, particularly to Eastern Europe. This provides him with economic and, thus, political leverage over former Warsaw Pact states. But he is nervous. Countries by the Baltic Sea are building or planning to build regasification plants that will allow them to import natural gas in liquid form from other parts of the world, thereby undermining Russia's energy monopoly in Eastern Europe. Then there are the shale gas deposits in Poland and Ukraine that might further increase the energy options of those geopolitical bellwether countries. Putin needs to be a worrier. 

American journalists, politicians and government officials must drive Putin to distraction. They assault him on moral grounds. After all, "He is a dictator!" they say. "He tolerates and even encourages corruption and rampant thuggery!" But do they know I am dealing with Russia -- not with the United States? Putin must think. Are they aware that when I took power there was political chaos and criminal anarchy, with ordinary Russians robbed of their dignity? In Putin's mind, he restored a large measure of order -- without which no progress is possible in the first place. And whatever his numerous faults, he is painfully aware that he is not in total control. Like many a Russian leader throughout history, he gives orders and in the vastness of the far-flung provinces there is little response. The Communists required totalitarianism to exercise real control. But he is no mass murderer like Stalin; he is not relocating whole populations to Siberia. He is just a ruler with strong autocratic tendencies, something common to Russia. What do the Americans want of me! Why do they interfere with my domestic affairs through the support of these human rights organizations? And, by the way, don't the Americans realize that toppling Bashar al Assad in Syria might mean a worse human rights situation there; not a better one? 

Putin wants a discussion with the Americans based on geopolitical interests, not values. President Richard Nixon went to China to negotiate with Mao Zedong because it was in America's interest to do so; the fact that Mao had just killed millions in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was not an over riding detail. So where is my Nixon? Putin must think. After all, I have not killed millions like Mao. I have not even murdered thousands. In 1972, the American media praised Nixon for going to China and negotiating with a mass murderer. Now the same media would not let President Barack Obama go to Moscow to negotiate with a normal autocrat unless he delivers scolding lectures on human rights. Putin must have smiled to himself cynically for a moment at the Boston Marathon bombing, whose perpetrators had origins in the Russian Caucasus -- a rough and tumble Muslim land Russia has been trying to subdue for generations. If only the Americans realized their eternal interests in an advantageous Eurasian balance of power and helped me permanently crush the north Caucasus. 

Not enough written about our military engagements

By N N Vohra
Jun 08 2013

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/not-enough-written-about-our-military-engagements-n-n-vohra/1126612/0

Lt Gen V K Nayar at the book launch in New Delhi Friday. Anil Sharma

Lamenting that not enough has been written about India's military engagements in the past, J&K Governor N N Vohra Friday said the government too needs to open up about the nation's recent history. He also made a case for going public with the controversial Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 war. 

The former defence secretary, who was recently given a second term as the Governor in Srinagar, said that at a time when India is facing huge challenges, there is a serious gap in capability of both bureaucrats and politicians to understand security issues. 

"In our large country, as a people we are not adequately aware of what is national security. (Be it) our public servants in border states, in maritime states, in war and policy making departments in North and South Block, politicians who hold key portfolios in the areas of security. I confess we are not adequate for some of the challenges we face," Vohra said. 

He was speaking after launching the autobiography of former governor of Manipur and Nagaland and noted counter insurgency expert Lt Gen VK 'Tubby' Nayar — From Fatigues to Civvies - Memoirs of a Paratrooper. 

The autobiography traces the life of Lt Gen Nayar from an officer of the 2 Para to his participation in all major conflicts that India has faced, including the planning of Operation Meghdoot to occupy Siachen. It also contains his views on current events within the Army, the perceived civil-military rift and the perception about declining military standards. 

Vohra said the government has been reluctant about releasing reports and publications on recent military affairs and at the same time, not enough has been written by experts like Lt Gen Nayar on issues concerning security. "Not enough has been written about our military engagements in the past. We have not written truly enough or boldly enough. Nor have we agitated enough for the kinds of military reforms that are necessary in the country." 

Speaking at the book release function, The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta recounted his association with Lt Gen Nayar during the Nagaland insurgency and agreed with Vohra that there is strong resistance within the establishment to release reports on recent military conflicts. 

"The 1962 Henderson Brooks report was not released by the Chief Information Commission as South Block seems to have vetoed it because the post-1962 mythology we have embraced is the 'Haqeeqat' version of 1962 and the report questions a lot of that," he said, adding that one of the major problems faced by the country is the shallowness of the strategic establishment. 

Commenting on the book, Vohra said it touches on most major military events and should be accessed by military libraries as a must read for the next generation of military leaders and strategists.

India, China and the Brahmaputra River: Beyond the Flood Data Agreement

By Roomana Hukil

http://www.ipcs.org/article/india/india-china-and-the-brahmaputra-river-beyond-the-flood-data-3979.html

The recent breakthrough between India and China as regards the flood data agreement, wherein China has complied to provide hydrological information at three Indian hydro stations twice a day between June and October has probed more scepticism than respite. As highlighted, the proposed pact fails to offer any new implementation in terms of water apportionment or flood management, and is regarded as a mere renewal of the existent pact between India and China.

What are the nuances with respect to the establishment of a water resources working group between India, China, and the other co-riparian states? Will a working group prove to be an expedient model for India and China to delve upon?

Envisaging a Trans-National Working Group

India’s pursuance towards establishing a joint bilateral mechanism over the Brahmaputra River was not approved by China, which led to slack and ambiguity in the region. The mechanism failed to acknowledge the cross-cutting interests of the other co-riparian states within the trans-bordered river system. Such a scenario may deem contentment for Sino-Indian water agendas but, in the longer run, will fail to resolve the percolating crisis between the trans-national states that adjoin the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna (GBM) river system within South Asia. Consequently, the Brahmaputra’s utility can be tapped, in utmost capacity, through a collaborative water resource working system that fosters greater hydro-connectivity in the region.

India has a fistful of strategic issues with China to avoid crying wolf for no reason. A joint water resources working group will look into the current and prospective trajectories for cross-border river cooperation, familiarising the region with upper riparian activities along the river course. Hemming in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, USA, Europe, Japan, etc will, essentially, negotiate the techno-economic and ecological feasibility stakes at a multilateral forum. Ergo, the power generation created within the South Asian realm can be shared as a SAARC, ASEAN, and China energy grid. This will possibly generate 40,000-50,000 megawatts of power (doubling the output of the Three Gorges Dam) from the stalled hydro-power stations. This will, in addition, help alleviate the issue of tapping the per capita of unused hydropower potential within South Asia. Thence, save millions of tonnes of dirty coal, diminish the impact of climate change, and provide clean energy. Such a project will, predominantly, suit to the interests of the international community.

POISONING THE WATER

Force must be combined with intelligence to suppress rebels 


Bastar jungles, Chhattisgarh 

Perhaps it was the beginning of the trail that led to the carnage in Chhattisgarh. The muscular young Musahar refused to speak. He wasn’t surly. In fact, his expression was amiable enough. But not a word would he utter. I asked about the warren of underground tunnels connecting one tiny windowless hut with another, the openings concealed by enormous earthen vats. I asked about being paid a fraction of the legal minimum wage for labouring for many more hours than stipulated. I tried talking of rats since Musahars reportedly catch and eat them, though someone said it wasn’t the rats so much as their hidden hoards of grain. That brought a half-smile to the boy’s face but he didn’t break his silence. 

“They have stopped speaking!” said the burly, mustachioed elders who had followed me to the Musahar tola, set apart from the rest of the village. That was nearly 40 years ago. Patna was screaming that Arrah district had become a nest of Naxalites. Yadav and Paswan landowners clamoured for gun licences. The Musahar youth’s silence recalled Ranjit Gupta’s comment some years earlier, “The Naxalites are a fountain spouting from the waters of discontent.” Ranjit had just taken over as police commissioner of Naxalite-ridden Calcutta and was inspired by Field-Marshal Sir Gerald Templer’s strategy in suppressing Malayan communists. I quoted him in a long article in London’s Observer colour magazine, “They say they function like fish in water. We poison the water.” 

Even Ranjit, with his deep interest in imperial history, cannot have known how apposite the comparison was. I certainly didn’t. It wasn’t until 2006 when I was writing Looking East to Look West: Lee Kuan Yew’s Mission India that I looked for Indian links with South-east Asia and came upon the literature tracing Malaya’s civil war to the Conference of Youth and Students of Southeast Asia Fighting for Freedom and Independence. The World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students organized it in Calcutta during February 19-23, 1948. 

Ranjit’s poetic reference to the waters of discontent echoed Templer’s famous observation, “The answer [to the uprising] lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Templer - cite_note-25). Templer became notorious for shifting hostile villagers to distant settlements where they could not help the guerrillas. His campaign included bombing and shelling, fires to flush out rebels, tight food control and chemical defoliation to prevent ambushes. Brutality was inevitable. Britain’s People newspaper revealed in 1970 that far from being terrorists, 25 Chinese shot dead on December 12, 1948 were unarmed villagers. But Templer also insisted that resettlement villages look attractive. He offered incentives for surrendering rebels and those who encouraged them to surrender, distributed food and medicine, and had crops sprayed with pesticide. Living restrictions were lifted in the “white areas” purged of communist infection. 

Toward Convergence: An Agenda for U.S.-India Cooperation in Afghanistan

05 June 2013

http://orfonline.org/cms/sites/orfonline/modules/report/ReportDetail.html?cmaid=52851&mmacmaid=52852

As the United States reduces its military presence in Afghanistan and transfers security control to the Afghan government in 2014, the governments in New Delhi and Washington should find ways to strengthen their partnership in Afghanistan. At the same time, they should embed it in a sustainable structure of regional cooperation in order to ensure the future stability of Afghanistan. The United States and India share a number of objectives in Afghanistan and the wider region, including: 

• A unified and territorially integrated Afghanistan 

• A sovereign, independent, and functional Afghan government based on the principles underlying the current constitution, including democracy, nonviolent political competition, and basic human rights for both women and men 

• An Afghanistan that prevents terrorist groups from using its territory to train and mount attacks both in the region and around the world 

• An Afghanistan that serves as a central trade and transit hub connecting South and Central Asia 

• A stable and responsible Pakistan that prevents militant groups from operating within its territory and seeks economic and political cooperation with its neighbours 

Until recently the United States discouraged active Indian military involvement in Afghanistan due to sensitivities toward Pakistani fears of encirclement by India. New Delhi’s own instinct was to move cautiously in Afghanistan, focusing on economic development, building infrastructure, and social-sector projects despite its larger security interests. But as the relationship between India and the United States has deepened over the last decade-combined with plans for the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government in 2014-U.S. and Indian policymakers have an opportunity for an enhanced partnership in Afghanistan. As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns stated during his visit to India in 

October 2012, "there has never been a moment when India and America mattered more to one another. And there has never been a moment when partnership between us mattered more to the rest of the globe." 

New Delhi's strategic dissonance in post-2014 Afghanistan

June 04, 2013 


India [ Images ]'s post 2014 Afghanistan policy appears to be glued to the best-case scenarios of a successful democratic transition. New Delhi [ Images] hopes that it would remain ‘business as usual’ and would not necessitate a drastic revisiting of its continuing strategy. This, in short, is a strategy of convenience, says Shanthie Mariet D’Souza. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai [ Images ]’s three-day official visit in May 2013 to India with a wish list of military equipment has reignited speculation regarding an increased Indian military assistance and presence in post-2014 Afghanistan. However, the lacklustre response in New Delhi belied such expectations. 

The official response to the 'list that grows longer each time Karzai visits India' did not go beyond the oft repeated semantics of India's long-term commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan. With Dr Manmohan Singh's [ Images ] preferred proclivities for making peace with Pakistan and the self-imposed restrictions India's Afghan policy has been marred by, New Delhi could be gradually making itself irrelevant in Kabul. 

The timing of Karzai's visit coincided with Afghanistan's frayed relations with Pakistan, its difficulty in negotiating with the Taliban [ Images ] insurgency and a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, waning of international interest in the Afghan war and dwindling financial assistance to the conflict-ravaged country. Karzai is in desperate need for assistance from India, both in real terms and also as a bargaining tool to extract favourable terms of engagement from the US and Pakistan. 

Indo-Afghan ties have expanded and deepened during the last decade. Having pledged more than $2 billion in various aid and developmental programmes, India is Afghanistan's fifth largest bilateral donor. As the West signalled its egress from Afghanistan, India demonstrated its long-term commitment and staying power by signing the Agreement on Strategic Partnership in October 2011 and organising an Afghan investment summit in Delhi in June 2012. India’s aid and assistance has been crucial in the rebuilding of various critical sectors of the Afghan economy, security and society. 

However, there is little hope that much of Afghan requests for military help would actually be fulfilled. Indian officials have indicated willingness to supply transport helicopters, trucks and non-lethal equipment to Afghanistan. Other offers include training in logistics, repair and maintenance works. Indian military thinkers have advocated options of putting boots on ground to help the Afghan forces to deal with the contingencies of post-2014 Afghanistan as a demonstration of commitment. 

Toward a Successful Outcome in Afghanistan

05/31/2013


Former ISAF commander, General John Allen, USMC (Ret.), former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon challenge the perception that Afghanistan is a lost cause and urge Washington to "adequately resource" its current policy toward the country in Toward a Successful Outcome in Afghanistan. Based on their recent experiences and observations in Afghanistan, the authors say they were buoyed by "the impressive progress” of the Afghan security forces and the “significant strides” made in many other areas. They caution the Obama Administration and its international partners against accelerating disengagement prior to 2014 and under-resourcing their commitment to Afghanistan after 2014.

Pakistan’s Afghan Challenge

By Gurmeet Kanwal

In a historical first, an elected civilian government in Pakistan surprisingly survived its full term of five years – even though its record was uninspiring. Elections were held reasonably smoothly and the transition to a new government has been hassle free. This has led to the hope that the Nawaz Sharif government will be able to stem the rot in Pakistan. In the recent past, governance has been abysmal, the economy is in shambles and sectarian violence and creeping Talibanisation have shaken the very foundations of society and are eroding the idea of Pakistan as an Islamic state.

The greatest challenge that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will face will be on the national security front. Fissiparous tendencies in Balochistan and the restive Gilgit-Baltistan Northern Areas are a perpetual security nightmare. Karachi remains a tinderbox that is ready to explode. The Al Qaeda has gradually made inroads into Pakistani terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM),Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HuJI), Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi(TNSM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and while it is still far from forming an umbrella organisation encompassing all of them, it is moving perceptibly in that direction. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has consolidated its position in North and South Waziristan despite the army’s counter-insurgency campaign over the last two summers and appears capable of breaking out of its stronghold to neighbouring areas. Only concerted army operations launched with single-mindedness of purpose can stop the TTP juggernaut.

However, the fallout of the draw-down of the US-led NATO-ISAF forces by the end of 2014, will pose the most complex challenge to the new government as it is an external security threat with internal security linkages. The security vacuum that will be created by the departure of foreign troops from Afghan soil is likely to lead to aTaliban resurgence as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF – army plus the police) will be incapable of independently assuming responsibility for security for all of Afghanistan. Though the numbers of the ANSF have gone up to the planned figure of 352,000, these are insufficient for the task at hand. The ANSF are inadequately equipped – they lack heavy weapons, artillery, air support and helicopters for logistics support.They are poorly trained, badly led and lack the motivation necessary to sustain complex counter-insurgency operations on a prolonged basis. Fratricide and desertions with weapons are commonplace.

Terrorism as an Instrument of Power Projection

08 Jun , 2013 
It seems there is no change in the policy of the Pakistan army in matters related to Kashmir. The top brass, along with a crop of retired generals, still believes that India should not be allowed to live in peace till it agrees to accept a solution to the Kashmir problem as visualised by Pakistan. Realising its inability to settle the problem by conventional military or diplomatic means, it continues to wage an unconventional conflict, hoping that India will bend finally. Pakistan-sponsored terrorism from across the border involves small, sparsely equipped groups exploiting operational constraints of stronger forces to continue terrorism and subversion in Kashmir. Unconventional war-fighting techniques of these groups have blurred the lines between war and peace, combatants and non-combatants, and rear and forward areas. There are indications that a renewed and more vigorous unconventional assault by Pakistan irregulars on India coinciding with the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan is in the offing. India must anticipate the nature of the asymmetric war that it may face in the near future. To meet this new challenge, it may be necessary to reassess and review the basic concepts and theories that underpin the doctrines of fighting Pakistan-sponsored terrorism today. 

The Pakistani onslaught can pose multiple threats, ranging from persistent mass terror attacks to simmering low-intensity conflicts waged through sub-national ethnic or religious entities within our country. 

The exact nature, forms and contours that a covert war can take in the developing security environments in the South Asian region are still by and large obscure. The diverse forms and shapes the new Pakistani covert war can take may hold many surprises. The current doctrinal concepts for combating Pakistan-sponsored terrorism combined with subversive activities have proved largely ineffective. The dynamics of Pakistan’s emerging asymmetrical strategies may render our superior military capability in J&K largely redundant. We must anticipate and pre-empt future Pakistani designs for evolving appropriate models to pre-empt the new challenges. However, the course of post-modern covert warfare is not easy to discern. The Pakistani onslaught can pose multiple threats, ranging from persistent mass terror attacks to simmering low-intensity conflicts waged through sub-national ethnic or religious entities within our country. This kind of war will not have high-profile military leaders or organised combat units but large, loosely organised groups operating with help and assistance from across international borders. 

Large numbers of non-state actors operating at the behest of Pakistan may soon assume the shape of a prolonged armed conflict in Kashmir, along with catastrophic terrorist attacks on high-profile targets in other parts of India. The aim of the terrorist attacks and creation of internal disturbances will be eroding and disturbing the economic, sociocultural and political foundation of the country. Subversion of loyalties of the vulnerable groups, religious indoctrination and efforts to polarise the society will form an intrinsic part of the divisive campaign by Pakistan in India. 

Al-Qaeda vs. Hezbollah

Which is the current world champion of terrorism? 



A fighter with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. 

Back during the Bush administration, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage famously called Hezbollah the “A Team of terrorists,” adding, “al-Qaeda is actually the B Team.” How do these two organizations compare today?

Last week, the State Department released the 2012 issue of its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism.” At a “background briefing,” a “senior administration official” highlighted an “alarming trend”: a “marked resurgence of terrorist activity by Iran and Hezbollah. The tempo of operational activity was something we haven’t seen since the 1990s. . . . We see no signs of this activity abating in 2013. In fact, our assessment is that Hezbollah and Iran will both continue to maintain a heightened level of terrorist activity and operations in the near future.”

The State Department is right to see Hezbollah and Iran as joined at the hip: The former is financed and instructed by the latter. That has not always been understood, despite the fact that, prior to 9/11/01, Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization. And Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, has proclaimed, “Death to America was, is, and will stay our slogan.” A pertinent question: If Iran’s rulers should obtain nuclear weapons, might they give one or two to Hezbollah to use for approved purposes? A plausible answer: Why not?

It’s well known that Hezbollah has been sending combatants into Syria in support of Bashar Assad, the dictator and Iranian satrap. Less publicized are Hezbollah’s operations in other corners of the world. A Hezbollah attack on a bus in Bulgaria last July killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian. In Nigeria, authorities recently broke up a Hezbollah cell, seizing what one Nigerian official called “a large quantity of assorted weapons of different types and caliber.”

Li Keqiang Visit to Pakistan: Assessing the Outcome

ISSUE BRIEF 

June 5, 2013

http://www.idsa.in/issuebrief/LiKeqiangVisittoPakistan_mandipsingh_050613

Chinese premier Li Keqiang is the first dignitary to visit Pakistan after the recently held elections. The visit, a part of his four nation tour, is to be seen in the backdrop of two important developments; first, it was the second destination on the itinerary after India and; second, it was at a time when there is no elected government in power in Pakistan. During the two day visit, the Chinese Premier was accompanied by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, the Chairman of National Development Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi, other high ranking officials and businessmen from the corporate sector. The delegation that arrived in Pakistan had reduced by almost half its size from the visit to India. Islamabad laid out the red carpet for the Premier, commencing the visit by providing an escort of six JF-17 fighter planes to Premier’s aircraft as it entered Pakistani airspace. The JF-17 is being jointly produced by both countries and is often touted as a symbol of their ‘higher than the mountains and deeper than the seas’ friendship. About 50 aircraft have been inducted in the PAF, although the PLAAF has not accepted them in their inventory. Immediately on arrival, Li Keqiang was conferred the Nishan-i-Pakistan, Pakistan’s highest civilian award, a tradition that Pakistan has been following for a few decades. Hu Jintao in 2006 and Li Peng in 1999 are the only other Chinese leaders to be conferred this honour. While Hu got the honour four years into his tenure, Li Peng was conferred at the end of his political career. Li Keqiang’s award , at the very beginning of his premiership, appears to have long term interest in cultivating his office in the coming years. 

China-Pakistan relations have been defined by metaphors and innate sycophancy in the past. This visit was no different. Li Keqiang said “Our hearts beat together and if there is anything time-tested in this world, it is Pakistan-China friendship,” while speaking at the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre, adding that “We have a glowing history of friendship, but we have to double our efforts so that this friendship tree be always lush and green”. Acting Prime Minister Mir Hasan Khoso equally responded by saying, “In our unique relationship, we have only highs and no lows”.1

The visit was covered by unprecedented security all over Pakistan. Just a day before his arrival, a roadside bomb exploded near the seafront in Karachi likely targeting a van full of Chinese port workers. While no one was hurt or injured a senior police officer confirmed that “Apparently, the Chinese who are working at the harbour were the target of the explosion”.2 Resultantly, mobile connectivity was shut down all over Pakistan to ensure no untoward incident occurred during the visit. Chinese engineers, workers and even women have been targeted by radical Islamic elements in the recent past forcing some companies like China Kingho mining company shutting shop over safety and security concerns of its staff and personnel in Sindh.3

The major event of the visit was the signing of 11 agreements on wide-ranging issues. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani signed the Agreement on Boundary Management System between Xinjiang (XUAR) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), a MoU on maritime cooperation and an agreement on border ports and their management system. While the details of the MoU are unclear, the establishment of a boundary management system with Xinjiang is indicative of the concerns that China has on infiltration of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) separatists and the increase in terror related incidents in the region. Only last month on 23 April, 21 people including 15 police officers and 6 terrorists were killed in a ‘terror attack’ in Kashgar prefecture of Xinjiang. In the joint statement released at the end of the visit, Pakistan reiterated, “We regard ETIM as our common threat and stand united in upholding sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.”4

It is also interesting to note the agreement on ‘border ports’, a possible reference to the setting up of dry ports along the GB-XUAR border as a part of China’s plans to establish an economic corridor between the two countries. Since China has already taken over Gwadar port it would serve as the entry/exit port for the proposed economic corridor. 

America and China

The summit

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping have a chance to recast this century’s most important bilateral relationship

Jun 8th 2013 

CHINA’S president, Xi Jinping, is unlikely to quote Thucydides when he meets his American counterpart, Barack Obama, at a summit in California on June 7th and 8th. But the spirit of the Greek historian will hover over the Sunnylands ranch. Chinese policy wonks are struck by his argument that it was the Spartans’ fear of the growing power of Athens that made war inevitable. Their insistence that China wants a “peaceful rise” is intended to calm such worries in America. 

The ploy is not working. China’s relations with America have deteriorated in recent years, raising the spectre of conflict in East Asia. Buoyed up by its own economic success and Western stagnation, China has been asserting its claims in the region more aggressively, sending the neighbours scuttling back to the American security umbrella. Barack Obama’s response has been a “pivot” towards Asia. In the absence of trust, both sides will build up their military strength and responsible defensive behaviour could spiral into conflict. 


Mr Xi has got at least one thing right. Last month he told Tom Donilon, America’s retiring national security adviser, that relations had reached a “critical juncture” and “a new type of great-power relationship” was needed. 

Is Xi is, or is Xi ain’t Mao’s baby? 

In 1972 Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger astonished the world by flying to China to hold discussions with Mao Zedong, during which they agreed to overlook their differences in order to further their mutual interests. Although many formal meetings have happened since, leaders of the two countries have rarely set aside such time as this week’s summit provides to hold similarly informal discussions (see article). They need to show the farsightedness of Nixon and Mao. 

The world has changed enormously in four decades, and China even more. Buzzing with online feedback and dedicated to consumerism, some parts of China are now beginning to resemble America. Mao’s personal tyranny has yielded to a more collective leadership by the Politburo, but the system struggles to contain a 21st-century society. 

China is the problem

08 June 2013


Writing is on the wall; Maldives must read it

Former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is mistaken if he really believes that it is the US, and not China, which poses a threat to peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region. China's continued belligerence and its aggressive nationalist posturing remains a significant cause for concern. The brazenness with which it has sought to lord over the South China Sea has astonished every other country that would like to keep the world's busiest sea lanes open for business. Similarly, the manner in which it has been bullying its neighbours — who really are no match for China, be it militarily or economically —has only served to pump up the threat perception that is forming around the Asian giant. From its attempts to wrest control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands from Japan to positioning thousands of troops in the disputed areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to even intruding deep inside Indian territory in yet another blatant attempt to antagonise New Delhi, China, despite being a global powerhouse, has behaved in a manner that is unbecoming of one. 

Mr Gayoom seemingly does not agree with this assessment. This could be, in part, because he views China as a potential patron for his country. The current regime in Male, believed to have come to power with his blessings, is already seen as cosying up to China. In fact, President Mohamed Waheed has even praised China’s policy of “non-interference” in the affairs of smaller nations, even as he secured a $500 million loan from Beijing. The Maldivian and Chinese Defence Ministers have also promised to strengthen bilateral security ties. And while Male's increasing proximity to Beijing may form the backdrop for Mr Gayoom's staunch support for China, his strident anti-US stance has most definitely been triggered by reports of an agreement between Male and Washington, DC, that may allow the Americans to set up a permanent military base in the Maldives —allowing them a toe-hold in the Indian Ocean region. However, there is no guarantee that the Status of Force Agreement will culminate in the establishment of a military base. Both Maldivian and US sources insist that SOFA is routine procedure for any security-related cooperation, which in this case is limited to Americans training Maldivian forces. Moreover, SOFA will require parliamentary approval before it can be implemented. Interestingly, alongside reports of American presence in the Maldives, there have also been reports of a similar Chinese presence. Mr Gayoom, of course, has dismissed these. Either way, it is unlikely that there will be any development in such contentious issues before the general election scheduled for September. 

In the run-up to this election, New Delhi is doing well to reach out to the political establishment of the Maldives. Its poor response to the crisis in Male last year cost India some leverage in the archipelago, but efforts to undo the damage are welcome. The recently-concluded, three-day India trip of Mr Gayoom, who still wields influence in Maldivian politics, was preceded by that of the Maldivian Defence Minister. Earlier, Mr Waheed had also called on New Delhi while his predecessor visited twice — proof of a continued partnership. 

China's Search for A New Energy Strategy


June 4, 2013 


Most observers are gloomy about the prospects for serious economic reform in China. But they ignore a central lesson of recent Chinese history: reform is possible when the right mix of conditions comes together at the right time. And the very circumstances that facilitated the last major burst of economic reform in the 1990s are largely present today. 

China's new ambassador to the United States (and a rising star in Beijing) sets out his vision for U.S.-Chinese relations, discusses whether China is a revisionist power, and how it plans to deal with cyber security -- and Japan. 

A taxi driver fills his car near a board showing price increases at a gas station in Shenyang, Liaoning province, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters) 

Much like the United States, China has an “all of the above” energy strategy: it plans to continue to rely on traditional sources of energy even as it makes the transition to cleaner fuels. And this is only natural. Both countries are continent-sized economies with diverse energy needs and geographically dispersed resources. 

But China’s energy situation differs from that of the United States in several notable ways. For starters, the Chinese state’s role in energy looms large, and its hand is seen and deeply felt when it comes to prices. Even more important, China’s per capita resource availability is below the world average -- and even below that of some other developing countries -- yet its total energy consumption could potentially be the largest in history. It is little wonder that China’s energy strategy has been guided by the need to supply enough fuel to power an economy that grew from under $1 trillion in 1997 to more than $8 trillion in 2012. 

Over that same 15-year span, China has become staggeringly dependent on imported energy: today, nearly 60 percent of its oil and almost 30 percent of its natural gas is imported. These developments have all but supplanted Beijing’s traditional concept of equating energy security with energy self-sufficiency. But China has little alternative, as just about the only resource it possesses in abundance is coal. (China now devours about four billion tons per year, or nearly half the world’s annual coal output. The bulk of those needs are met by domestic production.) 
Suppressed prices drive China’s uncontrolled energy consumption and its negative side effects. 

China’s rampant consumption of coal and fossil fuels has imposed an exorbitant cost on the country’s economic development, including severe environmental despoliation and thousands of deaths in coal mines. These environmental and pollution hazards have been regularly chronicled, and they are eroding the already limited resource base on which future growth depends. Resource scarcity, unfortunately, is a daily reality that China cannot evade. 

Such constraints on future economic development are reflections of the growth model according to which the Chinese economy was built. While this model has come in for criticism from many angles, few have appreciated one of its most important features: cheap and highly regulated energy prices. But it is these suppressed prices that drive China’s uncontrolled energy consumption and its negative side effects. 

China's Rapid Growth Has Taken an Awful Toll


June 7, 2013


Emerging from the ranks of one of the world's poorest nations to second only to the United States, China is destined for a place in the history books. But history may also record the heavy price paid by the Chinese people and will continue to pay for years to come. 

China's steady rise against the backdrop of a sluggish global economy has emboldened Chinese leaders to claim "firm confidence" in their development model. Meanwhile, seemingly robust authoritarian capitalism in China has convinced some American scholars that the model offers a viable alternative to Western-style democracies. According to Asian expert Joshua Kurlantzik, China's system in many ways poses "the most serious challenge to democratic capitalism since the rise of communism and fascism in the 1920s and early 1930s." 

Contrary to the image of the China juggernaut, though, multiple crises have struck over the past decade. The sheer size of China's economy and population only highlights the magnitude of health, environment and social challenges. 

Take air pollution. In northern China, readings of particulate matter no more 2.5 microns in size - or PM2.5, the most harmful types of toxic smog - have reached 40 times the maximum level allowed by the World Health Organization. The health consequences of such air pollution are enormous: A 2010 study conducted by the WHO and a group of universities found outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China, accounting for almost 40 percent of the global total. And according to a recent Deutsche Bank report, China's air quality will become 70 percent worse by 2025, due to the increases in coal burning and vehicle and industrial emissions, which combined, already contribute to 85 percent of PM2.5 air pollution in China in 2013. 

Water pollution is another price paid for China's meteoric economic rise. As a result of the rapid industrialization and poor regulation of the disposal of chemical products, over 70 percent of lakes and rivers in China are polluted, and nearly 40 percent of those rivers are deemed "seriously polluted." Nearly one-quarter of Chinese lack access to safe drinking water. WHO recently estimated that nearly 100,000 people die annually from water pollution-related illnesses in China. 

Some 20,000 dead pigs [1] found in the Huangpu River in March added to concerns about food-safety regulations. A 2011 study published by Chinese researchers estimated that more than 94 million people in China become ill annually because of bacterial foodborne diseases, of which, about 8,500 people die. These numbers likely underestimate China's food safety crisis, because statistics on health conditions caused by tainted food are often excluded. According to a 2011 research conducted by Nanjing Agricultural University, 10 percent of rice sold in China contained excessive amounts of cadmium, and some researchers estimate that as much as 70 percent of China's farmland is contaminated with toxic chemicals. The widespread production and consumption of toxic chemicals in industrialization and agricultural production have polluted water and air and contaminated farmland, contributing to the emergence of as many as 400 so-called "cancer villages," [2] areas where rates of cancer are unusually high. Overall, China has had an 80 percent increase in cancer rates compared with 30 years ago. 

China and its Peripheries: Strategic Significance of Tibet


By Abanti Bhattacharya 


Tibet is not an identity and cultural issue for China. It is essentially a strategic and security issue. Tibet being located in China’s Western frontier has been historically a vulnerable periphery. It is a strategic periphery not merely because of the 1962 India-China war, but more because it is a minority area located in the southwestern periphery occupying one-fourth of China’s landmass. Significantly, the flaring of the Tibetan unrests in the recent times has exposed not only the flawed nature of China’s minority policy but also raised questions on the efficacy of its security centered approach in dealing with the Tibet question. 

China’s Tibet policy is essentially driven by strategic considerations and periphery security. The focus on the periphery had been a perennial security concern right from the imperial times. However, in the post-1949 era, it gained preeminent focus not in terms of external threats alone but more due to its domestic concerns arising out of nation building exercise and governance issues. 

Inevitably, in the post-1949 period, after the establishment of the Communist government, the first task for China was to consolidate and integrate its vulnerable Tibetan periphery. It militarily occupied the region with its Red Army in 1950. It sought to legally incorporate the region by forcing the Tibetans sign the Seventeen-Point Agreement in 1951. It administratively integrated the region by creating the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1965. The minority policy thus crafted does not address the concerns related to the Tibetan identity per se but essentially provides the recipe for how to deal with China’s vulnerable periphery. 

This essay first looks briefly into how historically Tibet factors in China’s imperial periphery policy. Second, by exploring China’s Tibet policy in the post-1949 Maoist period, the essay shows how internally its minority policy, underscored in the ethnic classification project and regional autonomy system, is geared towards periphery consolidation and how externally China sought to settle its sovereignty claims on Tibet vis-à-vis India and attain a stable frontier. Third, the essay explores China’s Tibet policy in the post-1978 reform period and demonstrates how China has continued to address the Tibet issue from a security perspective and thus has implemented the Western Development Strategy internally and re-crafted its Nepal policy externally. Finally, the study evaluates China’s Tibet policy in the larger periphery policy. 

The essay also seeks to establish a critical link between Tibet and China’s periphery strategy and argue that its Tibet policy is a continuation of its historical quest for a stable periphery. Periphery strategy thus has dual implications, one security of the internal periphery underscored in the minority policy and two security of the external periphery reflected in its policy towards India, Nepal and the Tibetan Government in Exile. Tibet remains a strategic and security issue for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) rather than a cultural and identity issue. Since China treats Tibet as a strategic issue and not as a cultural issue, the solutions to the Tibetan problem are invariably a security-centric response than an identity-centric one. Quite inevitably then the Tibet issue which is a quest for Tibetan identity will continue to pose a formidable challenge to China’s periphery security and the Tibet question will remain unresolved for long time to come. 
I
Tibet in China’s Imperial Policy: Making of the Tibetan periphery 

Concerns related to the security of the frontiers are traceable to the late Shang and Zhou periods of Chinese history. It was the Qin and then the Han who developed an elaborate mechanism for frontier security and development. In fact, it is in the Han model that the current policies of Hanization and defence and development of the borderlands are rooted. However, it was only under the Qing dynasty, the last non –Han rulers that the periphery was not only consolidated but as James Millward says, ‘provincialized’ (Millward 2007). 

Incidentally, this provincialization of the periphery had taken place only in the late Qing era having confronted with Western imperialism and modernity in the post-Opium War period. In the early period of the Qing rule, however, frontier consolidation was adopted not through turning them into provinces but through sharing of power with the frontier elites. What evolved in the early Qing period was institutionalization of hybrid structures where the Qing delegated power to the local elites that of the Tibetan Buddhist clergy, Turkic leaders (begs) and the Mongol banners (Giersch 2008). Thus, the Dalai Lama institution emerged as the key to administrating Tibet. In fact, the Mongols first devised the patron-priest relationship that bound the Tibetans with the Mongol rulers which rendered high degrees of autonomy to Tibet and kept its socio-political structures largely intact (Norbu 2001). 

Tibet: The CIA’s Cancelled War




Lhamo Tsering Collection 

Resistance fighters on the Tibetan border during the early years of the CIA's Tibet program 

For much of the past century, US relations with Tibet have been characterized by kowtowing to the Chinese and hollow good wishes for the Dalai Lama. As early as 1908, William Rockhill, a US diplomat, advised the Thirteenth Dalai Lama that “close and friendly relations with China are absolutely necessary, for Tibet is and must remain a portion of the Ta Ts’ing [Manchu] Empire for its own good.” Not much has changed with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama one hundred years later. After a meeting in 2011 with President Obama in the White House Map Room—the Oval Office being too official—the Dalai Lama was ushered out the back door, past the garbage cans. All this, of course, is intended to avoid condemnation from Beijing, which regards even the mildest criticism of its Tibet policy as “interference.” 

However there was one dramatic departure from the minimalist approach. For nearly two decades after the 1950 Chinese takeover of Tibet, the CIA ran a covert operation designed to train Tibetan insurgents and gather intelligence about the Chinese, as part of its efforts to contain the spread of communism around the world. Though little known today, the program produced at least one spectacular intelligence coup and provided a source of support for the Dalai Lama. On the eve of Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 meeting with Mao, the program was abruptly cancelled, thus returning the US to its traditional arms-length policy toward Tibet. But this did not end the long legacy of mistrust that continues to color Chinese-American relations. Not only was the Chinese government aware of the CIA program; in 1992 it published a white paper on the subject. The paper included information drawn from reliable Western sources about the agency’s activities, but laid the primary blame for the insurgency on the “Dalai Lama clique,” a phrase Beijing still uses today. 

The insurgency began after the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet following its defeat of the Nationalists, and after Beijing forced the Dalai Lama’s government to recognize Chinese administration over the region. In 1955, a group of local Tibetan leaders secretly plotted an armed uprising, and rebellion broke out a year later, with the rebels besieging local government institutions and killing hundreds of government staff as well as Han Chinese people. In May 1957, a rebel organization and a rebel fighting force were founded, and began killing communist officials, disrupting communication lines, and attacking institutions and Chinese army troops stationed in the region. 

By that point, the rebellion had gained American backing. In the early 1950s, the CIA began to explore ways to aid the Tibetans as part of its growing campaign to contain Communist China. By the second half of the decade, “Project Circus” had been formally launched, Tibetan resistance fighters were being flown abroad for training, and weapons and ammunition were being airdropped at strategic locations inside Tibet. In 1959, the agency opened a secret facility to train Tibetan recruits at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, partly because the location, more than 10,000 feet above sea level, might approximate the terrain of the Himalayas. According to one account, some 170 “Kamba guerrillas” passed through the Colorado program. 

Challenging the Reconciliation Process: Myanmar’s Ethnic Divide and Conflicts


By CS Kuppuswamy 


Myanmar, ethnically, is one of the most diverse countries in Asia with Burmans making 69%, Shan 8.5%, Kayin 6.2%, Kayah 0.4%, Rakhine 4.5%, Chinese 0.7%, Mon 2.41%, Indians 1.3% and other Tribes 6.99%. By religion Buddhists are in a majority with 89.4%, Christians 4.9%, Muslims 3.9%, Animists 1.2%, Hindus 0.5% and others 0.1%. About 40% of Myanmar’s population (around 60 million) is composed of ethnic minorities often referred to as ethnic nationalities. Officially there are 135 national races though the major ethnic groups are seven in number- the Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen (Kayin), Karenni (Kayah), Mon and the Shan. 

The ethnic groups are located on the peripheral mountainous areas of Myanmar occupying around 60% the land area while the majority Burmans are in the inland plain areas. (See Map at Appendix showing the distribution of main ethnic groups across the country). 

The hopes of the ethnic minorities, that while granting independence to Burma, the British will make a special dispensation for them were in vain and the ethnic groups had to take to arms for seeking a federal union of Burma. The country has been ravaged by this civil war which has lasted for more than six decades soon after independence till date. The causes for this long drawn out civil war have been: 

· Low intensity armed conflicts, that did not have any major impact in Burmese heartland 

· Though the ethnic armed groups have been weakened over the years of conflict, the superior Burmese force could at no point overwhelm them. 

· The Burmese army too has not seriously pushed heavily against all the ethnic groups--they have always been tackled piece meal and at different times and under different conditions 

· Two rounds of cease fire agreements between the government and the ethnic armed groups, the first between 1989-1997 and the second in progress from December 2011 slowed down the operations against the ethnic armed groups and no decisive battles were fought. 

Ethnic Groups: Strategies, Goals, Concerns and Failures 

Ethnic groups are divided in terms of religion, language, strength, ideology and separated geographically in distant places. This worked to the advantage of the Army which exploited the differences to the fullest extent. Differences within the groups also have resulted in tensions that prevail between Kachins and Shans, Shans and Karens and Shans and Wa-s. In the Karen state there had been pitched battles between Buddhist Karens (DKBA) and the Christian Karens (KNU). 

Their goals have also been diluted over the years from an independent state, to self rule, to limited autonomy, to equal rights and fair share of the income from the natural resources of the state, to peace and development of their state and protection of their religion, culture, language etc. Lion H. Sakhong writes that “The Constitutional crisis and the implementation of the nation building process with the notion of one religion, one language and one ethnicity are the root causes of internal conflict and civil war in Burma” (Burma Centre for Ethnic Studies, Analysis Paper No.1, January 2012.) 

The 1974 Constitution further denuded the rights and aspirations of ethnics with the “Myanmar-batha-ska” as the non-Burman ethnics got together to form the “Federal National Democratic Front” in 1975 which was transformed into “National Democratic Front (NDF) in May 1976, with the aim of establishing a genuine federal union. Despite heavy odds the ethnic groups persisted in their struggle as most of them were strategically located in mountainous/jungle terrain near the borders and in some cases were even supported by the neighbouring countries. For the ethnic armed groups “Insurgency has become a way of life” wrote Martin Smith. 

On the front lines of Turkey's Twitter wars

Jun  7, 2013 


Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared war on Twitter. The Turkish premier has laid blame for the protests currently rocking his country at the feet of the popular microblogging site, referring to it as a "menace" and a "scourge" that has spread lies about events in his country. And the Turkish police have followed his lead: Authorities have arrested dozens of social media users for spreading "false information" about the demonstrations, while the police are reportedly scrutinizing 200,000 "fake" Twitter accounts. 

A crackdown on media is nothing new in Erdogan's Turkey (or under previous Turkish governments, for that matter). Turkey is currently the world's leading jailer of journalists, beating out such strong competition as Iran and China. Perhaps even more pernicious is the media's financial dependence on political patrons: For example, the pro-government newspaper Sabah, which is owned by a holding company run by Erdogan's son-in-law, ran a front page praising the prime minister for his anti-smoking campaign on the first, tumultuous day of protests. 

An enterprising group of young university students have stepped in to fill this information gap -- and disprove Erdogan's dark warnings about social media. Under the moniker 140journos (for the number of characters in a tweet), they have long undermined the state's tight grip on information -- reporting on everything from Kurdish activism to gay rights issues. Since the beginning of the protests, the team told FP that they have been working 20 hours a day, creating a streaming timeline of the most important events in the country. 

"Credible or not, social media has been the only [news] source until now," 140journos told FP. "Interaction has been immense.... One of the good aspects of the protests is that the news delivered on social media has been legitimized for many people. A lot of people have created Twitter accounts to get notified right away." 

The team acknowledged that social media had been far from perfect. Twitter users, trying to incite outrage at the Turkish government response, have spread rumors that authorities were using the infamous Vietnam War-era herbicide Agent Orange on protesters, and passed off videos of police brutality elsewhere as occurring in Turkey. 140journos sees its job as cutting through the disinformation, using a network of trusted volunteers on the ground to verify the information that comes their way. 

The mainstream media's failure has helped fuel the growth of Turkish citizen journalism. The 140journos team castigated the media's "shameful silence" on the protests, saying that its corporate owners were skewing the coverage for political purposes. Twitter and Facebook have also proved more adept at capturing the spirit of the protests: "Social platforms carried the mutual sense of humor of the protesters," the team explained. "Humor has been a motivational reinforcement in spite of [protesters'] nervousness of the state and police." 

In line with that spirit, 140journos' most popular tweet since the beginning of the protests doesn't show a massive protest or police brutality. Rather, the team said it was a viewpoint even less likely to appear in mainstream Turkish media: The image shows a television smashed on the street of the Istanbul neighborhood of Besiktas, which had been thrown by a Turkish man who shouted, "I'm sick of the lies of this!"