18 July 2013

America's exit strategy***

Uncertainties grow over Afghanistan

by G Parthasarathy

BRUCE REIDEL, arguably one of the best informed and most experienced American analysts on the Afpak region, recently wrote an interesting analysis entitled “Battle for the Soul of Pakistan”. Reidel noted: “Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America's counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, and calls for the destruction of India frequently and Jihad against America and Israel”. Reidel adds: “The Head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda Ayman Zawahiri is probably hiding in a villa not much different from the one his predecessor (Osama bin Laden) was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbotabad, until May 2011.”

Despite these realities, a new narrative seems to be creeping in, as uncertainties grow in Western capitals over how the much-touted "end game" will play out. American combat operations are progressively ending and Afghan forces assuming full responsibility to take on the Taliban. There is uncertainty over whether Afghanistan's Presidential elections scheduled in April 2014 will be free and fair and whether the new President will enjoy support cutting across ethnic lines, as President Karzai, a Durrani Pashtun currently enjoys. As Pakistan remains an integral part of Western efforts to seek "reconciliation" with the Taliban and for pull-out equipment by the departing NATO forces, there appears to be a measure of Western desperation in seeking to persuade themselves and the world at large that there has been a “change of heart” on the part of the Pakistan army, which is now depicted as having given up its larger aim of seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan through its Taliban protégés, led by Mullah Mohammed Omar.

As Reidel notes, Mullah Omar remains an ISI protégé housed in ISI safe houses in Pakistan. Pakistan's real aim as a “facilitator” of “reconciliation” in Afghanistan became evident when Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz suggested to the Afghan Ambassador that the Taliban should be allowed to take control of provinces in Southern Afghanistan, as the process of “reconciliation” commences. The Americans have only encouraged such thinking and added to the confusion by their over-anxiety to directly engage the Taliban, discarding earlier conditions for dialogue. Such obvious over-anxiety prompted the Taliban to up the ante and infuriate President Karzai by converting their premises in Doha to the office of a virtual Government in exile.

The Americans and their NATO allies are evidently looking for scapegoats in case their “exit strategy” fails as it did in Vietnam. India now appears to be the new scapegoat in the event of such failure as the US and its NATO allies seem to be bent on blaming India, for any failures by them, to deal with the Pakistan army's support for the Taliban, which could lead to an ignominious exit for them from Afghanistan. In this effort, British writers like the self-styled “historian” William Dalrymple seem to have become willing and enthusiastic accomplices. In a recent paper published by the Washington-based Brookings Institution Dalrymple avers: “While most observers in the West view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the US and NATO on the one hand and the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the other, in reality the hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the conflict in Afghanistan”.

Borders have to be effectively fenced

18 July 2013 

The implications of trans-border terror traffic between India and Bangladesh are grave. The situation can get worse if Dhaka has a regime unfriendly to India

The report that land acquisition problems in West Bengal have stalled fencing along India's border with Bangladesh warrants serious concern. Smuggled goods and infiltrators, as well as terrorists and funds and weapons for them, have been traversing the porous border at will. According to a report by Anisuzzaman in Bangladesh's daily Prothom Alo of March 1, 2005, money came to Muhammad Asadullah al-Galib, Ameer of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a fundamentalist Islamist organisation which international pressure had forced the Bangladesh Government to ban on February 23, 2005, across Bangladesh's border with India in Chapainawabanj and Rajshahi districts, opposite West Bengal's Malda and Murshidabad districts respectively. India's Lalgola border (in Murshidabad district), the report further stated, was also mentioned in this connection, and it was said that Galib had a shelter there.

The Daily Star of Bangladesh reported on March 5, 2005, that investigations by the intelligence branch of police in West Bengal had revealed that Galib had visited several madarssas in the border districts of North 24 Parganas, Malda and Murshidabad without either he or his associates having valid travel documents. According to the report, West Bengal's intelligence branch also suspected that he had links with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India and perhaps the Jamaatul Mujahideen in India as well.

According to a report in The Daily Star of March 6, 2005, pursued by the police, Bangla Bhai, Operations Commander of the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (a violent fundamentalist Islamist organisation also banned on 23 February, 2005) had slipped into West Bengal in the early hours of March 3, 2005. Indeed, seeking refuge in West Bengal's border districts seems to have become a practice with Bangladesh's Islamist fundamentalists on the run. The Daily Star of March 20, 2005, reported that an activist of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, the students' organisation of the fundamentalist Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, who had been identified as one of the four murderers of Professor Muhammad Yunus of Rajshahi University, had jumped bail in one of the several earlier cases and fled to India. He had returned to Bangladesh three days before the murder. 

The trans-border traffic continues, though the terror threat it poses to India has declined following Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's firm measures both against the secessionist insurgents of North-East India who had been sheltered and helped by the Bangladesh Government during Begum Khaleda Zia's prime ministership, and Islamist terrorist organisations Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh and Hizb ut-Tahrir active on its soil. Bangladeshi sources claim that many of their leaders and activists have fled to India, with the majority of them being harbored in West Bengal by their fellow travellers. They also claim that organisations like Hefazat-e-Islam, which are trying to unleash a reign of terror against secular and democratic elements in Bangladesh with Hindus as special targets, are receiving arms and money from West Bengal.

The support Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and allied fundamentalist islamist organisations, all harbouring pathological hatred for India, command in West Bengal lends credence to their allegation. A demonstration by these in the heart of Kolkata against the trial of war criminals in Bangladesh caused massive traffic jams on February 22. On March 30, 16 Islamist organisations held a large and belligerent rally at the Kolkata maidan denouncing the death sentence pronounced against Delwar Hossein Sayedee, by a court trying those charged with war crimes during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971. 

Cabinet nod for mountain strike corps along China border

July 18, 2013
By Vinay Kumar


The Army unit will take care of India’s operational gaps along the Line of Actual Control

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday gave its in-principle approval to the Army’s ambitious proposal to raise a mountain strike corps along the China border.

At a long-drawn CCS meeting here on Wednesday, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the proposal to raise a mountain strike corps was discussed in detail, highly placed government sources told The Hindu.

The CCS approval came after the Defence Ministry clarified certain questions raised by the Finance Ministry over the proposal. The CCS nod for the Army’s proposal, has been pending for the past few years, came nearly two weeks after Defence Minister A.K. Antony returned from his maiden visit to Beijing.

The strike corps is expected to cost Rs. 62,000 crore, spread over the entire 12th Plan (2012-17), the sources said.

The Army is learnt to have proposed raising a mountain strike corps, two independent infantry brigades and two independent armoured brigades to take care of its operational gaps along the entire line of actual control (LAC) with China.

The proposed strike corps, with about 45,000 soldiers and headquartered at Panagarh in West Bengal, will also give India the capability to launch offensive action in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the event of a Chinese offensive. India has also got two infantry divisions at Lekhapani and Missamari in Assam, which were raised in 2009-10 to take care of operational needs in Arunachal Pradesh.

On the other hand, China has about five fully-operational airbases, a well laid down rail network and over 58,000- km of roads along the Indian border, which enable it to move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering the Indian forces.

Indian Defence Industry: Issues of Self-Reliance

IDSA Monograph Series No. 21


The monograph makes an attempt to estimate India’s defence self-reliance index, which has been a subject of intense debate in recent years. It also surveys the key recommendations of various high level committees set up by the Indian government post the Kargil conflict. A critical analysis of various policy measures taken or contemplated by the Ministry of Defence to facilitate higher indigenous production has also been made. The monograph concludes with key policy measures to revitalize India’s moribund defence industry.

About the author

Dr Laxman Kumar Behera is Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a premier think tank under India's Ministry of Defence. As a member of the IDSA's Centre of Defence Economics and Industry, Dr Behera has vertical specialisation on issues related to Arms Procurement, Defence Offsets, Defence Industry, Military Spending, and Defence Cooperation. He was closely associated with two high-level Committees set up by the Indian MoD on Defence Acquisition and Defence Expenditure. He was a Consultant to the Task Force on Self-Reliance and Defence Modernisation constituted by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), Government of India. Dr Behera held the prestigious ICCR Chair, India Studies, at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


By refusing to deny what he had perceived to be the truth, Galileo became the father of modern science, writes Bikash Sinha

Towards the end of the 16th-century, Padua in Italy was about to embark on a fantastic revolution in science — Galileo Galilei arrived in Padua from Pisa for what he later rated as the best 18 years of his life (Galileo’s letter to Fortunio Liceti, June 23, 1640). He either invented or improved instruments and established the kernel of his great masterpieces, The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, 1632, and the Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences, 1638. He was dead four years later, in 1642, still confined in a house.

What was the cultural milieu of that time in Padua? Liberal arts, the classical trivium consisting of grammar, rhetoric and dialectic and, of course, the quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music — dominated the cultural scenario. These subjects were considered the only arts that could lead to knowledge, obviously only for free men. The mechanical or manual arts, in contrast to the liberal ones, were only useful to satisfy daily needs. Until that time, manual arts were practised by slaves or not-free men, who had no connection with knowledge.

Japan-India Security Cooperation

By Kei Koga & Yogesh Joshi
July 17, 2013


Singh’s recent trip to Japan markedly expanded ties, with the potential to contribute to regional stability.

When India and China confronted each other in the highlands of the Himalayas this April, the reverberations could be heard in Tokyo. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Japan in the last week of May to coincide with 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, relayed the concerns regarding an “assertive” China and the changing power dynamics in the region in no uncertain terms. Indicating India’s growing realism, Singh further asserted that “historical differences persist despite our growing interdependence; prosperity has not fully eliminated disparities with and between nations and there are continuing threats to stability and security in the region”.

Singh could not have been more correct in explaining the relations the two Asian democracies have with their bigger neighbor, China. The 4,200-kilometer Himalayan land border between India and China is Asia’s largest border dispute, over which the two states went to war in 1962. Meanwhile, China’s recent behavior towards Japan’s control of the Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China) has been seen asextremely aggressive. Economic interdependence has not helped ease tensions. Despite the enormous trade volumes between Japan and China, standing at about $330 billion in 2012, the aftermath of the 2010 boat collision and China’s aggression over the disputed islands illustrated that interdependence is no cure when it comes to peaceful resolution of territorial conflicts. Worse, Beijing has often used the trade asymmetry with Japan to its own advantage, stopping the supply of commodities such as rare earth metals on which Japan depended.

With its growing military and economic capabilities, the continued rise of China is now politically overshadowing established powers like Japan and rising states like India in equal measure. This disparity of relative power growth has created a perception of a slow but certain shift in the balance of power in Asia towards Chinese hegemony. As these asymmetries grow, smaller states have started hedging against China. In the India-Japan partnership, one can observe similar strategic maneuvers with shades of power politics.

At the recent Japan-India Summit, Singh declared “Japan as a natural and indispensable partner in our quest for stability and peace in the vast region of Asia-Pacific.” Echoing him, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also repeatedly emphasized his 2007 remarks, “Confluence of the Two Seas,” which highlighted the maritime security and cooperation between the two countries.

China was clearly alarmed by this development, evident in the commentary that appeared in the Communist Party organ, Global Times. Calling Japanese “petty burglars” and “international provocateurs,” it warned India of getting close to Japan “at its own peril.” Clearly, Beijing has not missed the emerging balance of power in Asia.

In fact, an Indo-Japanese entente against the growing influence of China in Asia is not a recent phenomenon. Japan and India have been cooperating on defense and security issues since 2001, when the bilateral Comprehensive Security Dialogue was inaugurated. Further institutionalization of bilateral security cooperation continued, with the two countries issuing “the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Japan and India” in October 2008, and commencing the bilateral 2+2 dialogue in 2009.

Still, there seemed to be an implicit strategic consensus not to create antagonism with China. During his first term, Abe sought to enhance strategic relations with India, fundamentally driven by the balance of power in Asia, hedging against China’s uncertain future. More cautious was India, then Asia’s rising star – the world’s most populous democracy with two decades of high economic growth backed by the liberal reforms from the early 1990s. Its foreign policy became more pragmatic, and New Delhi eschewed unnecessary strategic provocations vis-à-vis China. This was well illustrated in 2006, when Abe called for a “concert of democracies” – the U.S., Australia, India and Japan – to join hands in the Asia-Pacific. India (and Australia) were the first to back away from the arrangement lest it provoked China’s ire.

A New Drone Deal For Pakistan

How to Bargain With a Newly Drone-Skeptical Islamabad

July 16, 2013


A protest against drone strikes in Pakistan, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters)

For all its successes, the U.S. drone program in Pakistan is unlikely to survive much longer in its current form. Less than a week after his election on May 11, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, reportedly declared to his cabinet that “the policy of protesting against drone strikes for public consumption, while working behind the scenes to make them happen, is not on.” This fall, Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies will elect a new president, likely a Sharif loyalist, and the prime minister will also select a new army chief. It is safe to say that these men are unlikely to follow their predecessors in offering tacit endorsements of the United States' expansive counterterrorism efforts. 

In other words, the United States is going to have to hammer out a new drone deal with Pakistan in the years ahead, one that is sensitive to Pakistan's own concerns and objectives. This will likely mean that Washington will face new constraints in its counterterrorism operations. But managed with care, a new agreement could put the targeted killing campaign against al Qaeda on firmer political footing without entirely eliminating its effectiveness.

Ever since its inception in 2004, the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan has been stumbling along shaky legal and strategic ground. At various points in time, Washington and Islamabad constructed different fictions to enable the drone campaign. Before launching the first drone strike that killed Taliban leader Nek Muhammad in June 2004, Washington sought personal authorization from then President and army chief Pervez Musharraf. For several years thereafter, the Pakistani army claimed responsibility for all drone strikes, publicly denying (however implausibly) American intervention.

But the program’s remarkable success in killing al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, combined with the otherwise largely unaddressed problem of sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal areas, encouraged U.S. officials to expand their list of targets. As the program grew, and especially as Washington killed militants with suspected links to Pakistan’s own military and intelligence services, such as members of the Afghan Taliban–affiliated Haqqani Network, Pakistani officials shed the fiction that the strikes were their own. Islamabad instead bowed to what it perceived as a powerful domestic consensus against the drones and criticized the United States in increasingly shrill terms for violating Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty. Privately, however, Musharraf and his immediate successors -- including the civilian government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the army under General Kayani -- continued to greenlight the drone program.

China's 'Combat Troops' in Africa

Posted By John Reed Monday, July 15, 2013

For the second time in a little over a year, China has infantry on the ground in Africa, reflecting the Chinese military's increasingly global presence.

395 peacekeepers from the People's Liberation Army just arrived in the Saharan nation of Mali as part of the U.N. mission to help restore order there. Specifically, Beijing has sent engineering, medical and "guard" teams to the Malian capital of Bamako, according to the Chinese defense ministry. These troops are reportedly part of the PLA's 16th Army, a formation comprised of infantry, armor and artillery divisions.

China traditionally sends thousands of engineering, medical and other support troops on U.N. missions each year. Of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China is the largest manpower contributor to U.N. peacekeeping missions.

However, until very recently, China did not send infantry on U.N. missions. In fact, Beijing officially insists the soldiers in Mali aren't combat troops, perhaps in order to maintain the idea that China doesn't send official combat troops on peacekeeping missions.

"The Chinese security force is actually a guard team that will mainly be responsible for the security of the [U.N. mission] headquarters and the living areas of peacekeeping forces," a Chinese defense ministry spokesman is quoted by China's state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.

Still, this latest deployment marks the second time in the last two years that China has sent infantry soldiers to Africa with the purpose of guarding peacekeeping missions. In 2011, Beijing sent infantrymen to guard PLA engineers participating in a U.N. mission in South Sudan. Despite Beijing's claims that these troops were there solely for the purpose of guarding the engineers, the U.S. China Economic and Security Review pointed out that these guards were from an "elite" combat unit.

The mission to protect PLA engineers and medics isn't without merit; just last week, seven UN personnel were killed when their convoy was attacked in Sudan. And the operation reflects China's growing interest in Africa. Chinese business leaders have been all over the continent for the last decade, spending billions of dollars on projects and prompting some to worry that Beijing was going to beat the U.S. in the African influence game (an assertion U.S. President Barack Obama dismisses). All of this has prompted Chinese military deployments aimed at protecting Chinese workers abroad.

The Chinese navy has been conducting anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea for years. And in early 2011, China sent military transport planes and even a guided missile destroyer to Libya to help evacuate some of the tens of thousands of Chinese citizens there as the revolution against former Libyan dictator Muammar al Qaddafi heated up.

These latest deployments of Chinese infantry are simply a reflection of China's growing role in the world, motivated by the need to protect Chinese investments and to be seen as a more responsible player in global security affairs, say several experts.

"This role is not limited to Africa, and thus I don't see this current shift as an ‘Africa' policy, but rather the evolution of their U.N. role coupled, possibly, with a long-standing special relationship with Mali," professor Deborah Brautigam with John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. "If they want to play a leadership role in the U.N., they need to step up and expand what they contribute to its various parts."

For now, that means sending in a relative handful of troops. In the future, the numbers may not be quite so small.

"China is slowly setting the scene for eventually sending a combat unit to some future UN peacekeeping operation," said David Chinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso who now teaches at The George Washington University. "In this sense, this is a significant development and is in keeping with China's policy of slowing expanding the size and function of its support to peacekeeping."

One Xi taught a lesson, another fails to learn it

18 July 2013 

President Xi Jinping has been talking a great deal of reclaiming the past glories of communism in China and building on it a new ‘dream’ for his country. What if that dream sours, like others did in the past?

The 10th Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 8th Central Committee was held in September 1962 in Beijing. It was to be a crucial meet not only because Mao Zedong had decided to attack ‘arrogant’ India, but because it witnessed the first purge which culminated in the Cultural Revolution a few years later.

According to Dr Li Zhisui, Mao’s private physician and author of The Private Life of Chairman Mao, “During the Plenum, Mao retook the upper hand on the Party and his old comrades. He reemphasized class struggle in order to prevent the emergence of revisionism.” The main casualty of the Plenum was Xi Zhongxun. The Vice-Premier’s mistake was that he was too close to Marshal Peng Dehuai who had dared to criticise Mao’s Great Leap Forward in 1959; further, Xi Zhongxun was suspected to support the ‘Three Nis’, thanks to the Chinese pronunciation: Kennedy (Ken-ni-di), Nikita Khrushchev (Ni-ji-ta), Nehru (Ni-he-lu).

At the time of the Plenum, Xi Zhongxun’s son was a young boy; he was only nine years-old. He must have been deeply traumatised when his father was sent to the wilderness of Chinese gaols for the next 16 years. Senior Xi would only be rehabilitated by his old Comrade Deng Xiaoping in 1978.

Fifty-one year later, Xi Zhongxun’s son, today China’s President and General Secretary of the Communist Party, exhorts the Chinese nation to return to the good old Communist values. It is difficult to comprehend, but last week, Xinhua reported: ‘Xi urges China to keep red’.The new Emperor paid a visit to Xibaipo in the northern province of Hebei; it was the old revolutionary base, where from May 1948 to early 1949, the Communist leadership worked on the blueprint of the new Red China.

According to Xinhua, addressing the Party cadres, Xi Junior “urged the 85 million members of the Communist Party of China to work hard and serve the people wholeheartedly to ensure the color of red China will never change.”President Xi Jinping warned the Party cadres against the Four Decadences: Formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance. While fighting laxity, mediocrity and corruption, Xi said the campaign should focus on self-purification, self-perfection, self-renewal and self-progression. Xi called for “thorough inspection, overhaul and cleanup”.

He probably did not have in mind the rectification session of the 10th Plenum, when he said: “Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s remarks on Party members’ work styles prior to the founding of New China in 1949 still have far-reaching ideological and historical significance.”

His recent leitmotif has been: “If every CPC member and every grassroots organ…do a good job, the Party will be strong, the country will be strong and people will be strong. Thus, the Party’s rule will have a solid foundation.” The President asked the senior provincial officials to take the lead in the ‘Campaign on Mass Line Education and Practice’; Mao Zedong used the word, ‘mass line’ to explain the need for the Party to stay in touch with the ‘masses’.

President Xi’s point is that if the Party is unable to do this, it will die. The ‘chaos’ so feared by the old emperors will then follow. At the same time, he does not want to blindly follow the ‘Western’ style of democracy which would, according to him, destroy the ‘Chinese characteristics’ of the Middle Kingdom. He probably believes that the Indian model is not efficient enough.

Tibetans lose patience after 50 years of peaceful protest

By Kapil Komireddi
Jul 17, 2013 


How much can Tibet endure? It's a question that hardly anyone in the West wishes to ask. After all, those who have made it a habit to force themselves on some fragile states in the name of human rights and democracy tend to develop very cold feet when they face China.

But it's a question that Tibetans want to have asked - and answered. For more than five decades, they have been exemplars of nonviolent protest - and through all that time their condition has only worsened.

The latest proof of the extent to which Beijing has eradicated the Tibetan way of life came in the form of an exhaustive report published last month by Human Rights Watch.

According to this study, more than two million Tibetans have been forced into what China calls "new socialist villages" over the last seven years. Satellite imagery collected by HRW shows rows of newly-built, identical houses and apartment blocks.

To some, this will look like progress, a move away from the backwardness of rural life. But to the Tibetans who have been subjected to this programme, it's only the newest phase in a process that began with China's "peaceful liberation" of Tibet in 1951: to erase from Tibetans' emotional and mental make-up their sense of who they are, and to integrate them, through forced changes to their way of living, into the homogenous revolutionary China conceived by Mao Zedong.

China may be changing but in Tibet the revolution is still unfolding, still claiming its victims. This is why Beijing did not stop at resettling the Tibetans. As HRW reports, the central government has also dispatched 20,000 officials to monitor the Tibetans under the slogan "solidify the foundations, benefit the masses".

To many Tibetans, China's unyielding push to erase Tibetan identity has only confirmed the futility of nonviolent protest. They may have downgraded their original demand for full independence from China to a call for autonomy within its boundaries, but all the same, Tibet remains the most intensely policed region under Chinese administration.

Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have rejected the prosperity of China, choosing instead life as refugees in remote places. And yet wherever they go around the world, they find themselves marginalised by national leaders anxious not to offend China.

In a desperate attempt to draw the world's attention to their cause, more than 100 Tibetans have set fire to their own bodies in the past two years. But even these sacrifices, in clear violation of Buddhist precepts, have failed to provoke any meaningful outrage in places that matter.

The global indifference to Tibetans has only emboldened the Chinese government. On Saturday, July 6, police in Sichuan province opened fire on a group of monks who had gathered peacefully to celebrate the birthday of the Dalai Lama. At least two monks were seriously wounded. The Chinese official responsible for ethnic minorities, Yu Zhengsheng, reacted to this atrocity with yet more belligerence, vowing to "deepen the struggle against the Dalai clique".

This is a self-wounding approach to the problem because, for all visceral reactions he evokes in Beijing, the Dalai Lama is perhaps the last best Tibetan ally that China has. For years, it is the Dalai Lama who has prevented Tibetans from embracing violence.

But Beijing's refusal to deal with him has substantially eroded his authority within the Tibetan community in exile. Certainly, the Dalai Lama continues to be revered as a spiritual leader by almost all Tibetans. But a restless generation of young Tibetans is questioning his political acumen. What, they ask, has our nonviolent struggle given us? Why, they wonder, are we directing violence at ourselves rather than at our tormentors?

Censuring the Censors


Why U.S. tech firms that help dictators restrict the Internet need to be held to account.

"Scourge," "the worst menace to society," "the best example of lies can be found there." That was Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan's characterization of Twitter as protesters, besieged by his armed forces and inflamed by his imposition of hardline Islamic law, took to the network in droves to criticize his government last month. They were not idle observations. On June 26, Binali Yildirim, Erdogan's transport and communications minister, demanded that Twitter open an office in Turkey in order to comply with orders to censor content and reveal user data. "Otherwise," Yildirim said, "this is a situation that cannot be sustained." A wholesale crackdown has yet to follow, but activists wait with bated breath. With the likelihood of Twitter opening a regional office to collaborate with government censors decidedly slim, the request was hollow -- but the threat of retribution was not. Turkey blocked access to YouTube for two years in 2008.

Cracking down on Internet content has long been de rigueur in Muslim countries, but a recent spate of censorship reveals a problem spiraling out of control -- no doubt triggered by the increase in protests against unpopular regimes. In June, Saudi Arabia suspended access to the popular messaging application Viber and threatened similar action against WhatsApp and Skype. Pakistan, ushering in its first-ever democratic transition of power, dashed hopes for reform when its new information technology minister began her first day on the job with a public threat to block Google for failing to expunge "blasphemous" content.

By breeding mistrust of government institutions and deepening fault lines between leaders and a frustrated, networked younger generation, this trend stands to destabilize a swath of countries at the heart of today's global security challenges. Reversing this trend will require a concerted effort from governments, religious leaders, and especially technology companies around the world -- both those threatened by state censors and those that have played a surprising role in making this new era of censorship possible.

Internet censorship is not a Muslim phenomenon. Many of its most powerful proponents, like China, lack Muslim majorities. But the reality is that such censorship has become endemic in the Muslim world. Almost 80 percent of the 31 Muslim-majority countries tracked by the Internet freedom organization OpenNet Initiative use some form of systematic Internet filtering. Of the seven exceptions, two (Afghanistan and Iraq) simply lacked sufficient infrastructure to filter web content, while four (Algeria, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Malaysia) censored in other ways, such as criminalizing content or harassing and arresting bloggers. Only one, Lebanon, was found to have no evidence of filtering and no censorship by other means.

Many of these countries struggle with tensions between Islamic identity and modern connectivity. These tensions are rooted in valid, deeply held convictions. But they have been exploited by repressive regimes looking for a convenient excuse to limit political expression and silence opposition. Pakistan, for example, regularly offers religious rationales for its censorship efforts. Its non-secular government has made clear that bans on scores of websites, including YouTube, are motivated by objections to material officially deemed to be "blasphemous." However, a probe by Canadian researchers found that Pakistan exhaustively blocks sites featuring political dissent -- from discussion of secession by minority groups to criticism of Pakistan's military's budget by Western media outlets.

Often, the behavior of Muslim communities has played into the hands of state censors. At one extreme, Islamist groups that have stoked violent protests of blasphemy create a culture of fear that has paralyzed even progressive politicians. At the other, the young, networked protesters that toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen have driven the fearful regimes left behind, like Bahrain's, to further crackdowns.

You Thought the Brotherhood Was Bad?


The Salafi ultra-radicals are now Egypt's new power brokers.

In one of the many bizarre twists of Egypt's recent political convulsion, hardline Salafi parties look poised to replace the Muslim Brotherhood as the most important Islamist players in the political process. It's a situation ripe with irony: For years, the Brotherhood represented the "good guys" of the Islamist world -- a movement that other parties could deal with -- while the Salafis were irreconcilable zealots bent on establishing an Islamist state by any means necessary. But with former "bad guys" redeeming themselves by siding with the opposition in the weeks preceding President Mohamed Morsy's ouster, they now have a shot at becoming the standard-bearers for Islamist politics in the Arab world's largest nation.

The Nour Party, the largest Islamist organization, joined in the opposition's call for Morsy to step down, claiming that he and the Muslim Brotherhood were attempting to monopolize power. But it did not participate officially in the street protests against the Brotherhood, and has been sitting on the fence ever since, criticizing the military's transition roadmap and its constitutional proclamation, and declaring that their members would neither join the transitional government nor oppose it.

Salafist participation, however, will come at a price -- and there's no guarantee that Egypt's new rulers will want to pay it. The military officers that deposed Morsy -- along with the parties and personalities now trying to ride their coattails into power -- are facing a difficult choice: Should they include Islamists in the new system? Or should they seek to push them resolutely to the margins, as Hosni Mubarak and a succession of previous governments did?

It's not clear that this decision has been made yet. Officially, the military and its civilian appointees now argue that Islamists must be included in the political process. In practice, however, the actions of the military and its allies tell a different story: Muslim Brotherhood leaders are being rounded up in growing numbers, Islamist television channels have been shuttered, and dozens of Morsy supporters have been shot dead on the street by the police and army.

At the same time, the new leadership has made a huge concession to Salafis by including in its July 8 constitutional proclamation some of the most controversial clauses of the suspended 2012 constitution. Article 1 of the proclamation proclaims Islam to be the religion of the state and the principles of sharia the main source of legislation. It was the Salafis, particularly members of the Nour Party, who insisted on including these stipulations in the constitution.

There is no guarantee, however, that the Salafi parties can coexist in the long term with their new secular allies. Tamarod, the "rebel" movement that spearheaded the June 30 demonstrations, was incensed by references to sharia in the constitutional proclamation and is opposed to Islamist participation in the new government. Many of the so-called liberals in the National Salvation Front and in the business community also call, at least privately, for the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) -- and do not hide their desire to see a ban on all parties with a religious orientation in the new constitution. Indeed, a major secular-Islamist battle is brewing over the writing of the new constitution.

No matter what the new constitution says about the legality of parties based on religion, the Muslim Brotherhood appears to have been drummed out of the political process for the time being. It is unlikely to participate in the parliamentary election that should take place in early 2014, as it still insists that Morsy is the duly elected president of the country and that he must be reinstated. That will leave its voters with nowhere else to turn but the Salafist parties, which will be the last players on the Egyptian political scene explicitly calling for a strong Islamic reference in government.

Tomorrow There Will Be No More Two-State Solution—and Then What?

By Yuval Diskin|July 17, 2013

Ex-Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin warns that Israel’s leaders appear to be dangerously detached from reality

Israeli security near the separation wall in Abu Dis, bordering Jerusalem, July 2013. 

Meir Dagan, recently retired as chief of the Mossad, wanted to reestablish the agency as a powerful deterrent to Israel’s enemies. With a string of daring operations, he succeeded.
By Yossi Melman

The Israeli leadership is at war with itself over Iran: In one corner, Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. In the other, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

We are approaching a point of no return regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, it may be that we have already crossed it. The issue may not seem as urgent to the Israeli public as the Iranian nuclear program, which has become, with the help of our leaders, a central focus of public discussion at the expense of other pressing issues. To my regret, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has yet to reach a prominent place at the top of our list of priorities, nor has it become the second, even third most important issue. However this very subject has a place in our essence, in our identity, in our souls, in our security, and in our perception of morality—as a society or nation that has been chosen to rule another nation.

The relative security calm that we have recently enjoyed creates a dangerous illusion that our problems have been solved and maybe worse—that we have actually “frozen the situation”: a kind of de facto strategy in the face of the “Arab Spring” that is raging all around us. But it is clear that it is impossible to truly freeze the situation as social, economic, political, and other processes are never frozen in time. Unfortunately we have yet to find a strategy or the technology that can freeze frustration. Look no further than at what’s been happening in the Arab world in recent years, at what’s been happening in Egypt in the last several days, what is happening simultaneously in Brazil, at what happened in Russia after Putin was elected, and at what happened in Iran in the latest elections—and even at what happened in the social protests that took place in Israel during the summer of 2011—and you will understand that in the latest era, which is represented by the “Arab Spring,” there is no way to freeze the frustration of a nation or of any public entity.

Among the Palestinians there is a growing sense of anger and frustration. The fading hopes for a real change in the situation haven’t just lowered the Palestinian street’s faith in a solution to the conflict through means of the negotiation, but it is also the reason why, at the end of the day, the Palestinians will take to the streets, leading to another round of bloody violence. And the construction of settlements (whether or not this is taken as a symbolic gesture toward Mahmoud Abbas) is not stopping; the number of settlers or “inhabitants” in the West Bank, outside of the main settlement blocs, is growing to (if they have not already arrived at) dimensions that no Israeli government will be able to dismantle in an orderly fashion, unless through willing consent—and it doesn’t appear that the current government possess the will and/or the desire to buck the trend.

Just as troublesome—many of our friends in the world, whose support of the peace process with the Palestinians is critical, understand the powerless leaderships of Netanyahu and Abbas. They see the continued expansion of the settlements and are choosing to call it quits regarding the possibility of ever implementing the solution of “two states for two nations.”

Until recently I believed with all my heart that there is still a chance for the “two-state solution.” However, in the absence of true leadership willing to take real actions instead of making idle statements, I am convinced more and more that this option, which until recently was preferred by the Israeli majority according to surveys, is becoming increasingly unrealistic and is no longer feasible.

So, I now return to where we are in time, the “point of no return.” It is possible to compare our situation to flying in a plane. When we fly, it’s worthwhile to know if we have enough fuel to return home. There won’t be any obvious signs that we have reached the “point of no return”; there won’t be any exploding sounds, and it won’t be possible to paint it on a poster to present during speeches made to the United Nations or anywhere else. Even researches and reports won’t be able to prove that we’ve crossed the line; it will be more similar to the picture of the cat that slowly turns into a dog. Except in this case, the dog will also be buried.

The CIA's New Black Bag Is Digital


When the NSA can't break into your computer, these guys break into your house.

During a coffee break at an intelligence conference held in The Netherlands a few years back, a senior Scandinavian counterterrorism official regaled me with a story. One of his service's surveillance teams was conducting routine monitoring of a senior militant leader when they suddenly noticed through their high-powered surveillance cameras two men breaking into the militant's apartment. The target was at Friday evening prayers at the local mosque. But rather than ransack the apartment and steal the computer equipment and other valuables while he was away -- as any right-minded burglar would normally have done -- one of the men pulled out a disk and loaded some programs onto the resident's laptop computer while the other man kept watch at the window. The whole operation took less than two minutes, then the two trespassers fled the way they came, leaving no trace that they had ever been there.

It did not take long for the official to determine that the two men were, in fact, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives conducting what is known in the U.S. intelligence community as either a "black bag job" or a "surreptitious entry" operation. Back in the Cold War, such a mission might have involved cracking safes, stealing code books, or photographing the settings on cipher machines. Today, this kind of break-in is known inside the CIA and National Security Agency as an "off-net operation," a clandestine human intelligence mission whose specific purpose is to surreptitiously gain access to the computer systems and email accounts of targets of high interest to America's spies. As we've learned in recent weeks, the National Security Agency's ability to electronically eavesdrop from afar is massive. But it is not infinite. There are times when the agency cannot gain access to the computers or gadgets they'd like to listen in on. And so they call in the CIA's black bag crew for help.

The CIA's clandestine service is now conducting these sorts of black bag operations on behalf of the NSA, but at a tempo not seen since the height of the Cold War. Moreover, these missions, as well as a series of parallel signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection operations conducted by the CIA's Office of Technical Collection, have proven to be instrumental in facilitating and improving the NSA's SIGINT collection efforts in the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Over the past decade specially-trained CIA clandestine operators have mounted over one hundred extremely sensitive black bag jobs designed to penetrate foreign government and military communications and computer systems, as well as the computer systems of some of the world's largest foreign multinational corporations. Spyware software has been secretly planted in computer servers; secure telephone lines have been bugged; fiber optic cables, data switching centers and telephone exchanges have been tapped; and computer backup tapes and disks have been stolen or surreptitiously copied in these operations.

In other words, the CIA has become instrumental in setting up the shadowy surveillance dragnet that has now been thrown into public view. Sources within the U.S. intelligence community confirm that since 9/11, CIA clandestine operations have given the NSA access to a number of new and critically important targets around the world, especially in China and elsewhere in East Asia, as well as the Middle East, the Near East, and South Asia. (I'm not aware of any such operations here on U.S. soil.) In one particularly significant operation conducted a few years back in a strife-ridden South Asian nation, a team of CIA technical operations officers installed a sophisticated tap on a switching center servicing several fiber-optic cable trunk lines, which has allowed NSA to intercept in real time some of the most sensitive internal communications traffic by that country's general staff and top military commanders for the past several years. In another more recent case, CIA case officers broke into a home in Western Europe and surreptitiously loaded Agency-developed spyware into the personal computer of a man suspected of being a major recruiter for individuals wishing to fight with the militant group al-Nusra Front in Syria, allowing CIA operatives to read all of his email traffic and monitor his Skype calls on his computer.

The fact that the NSA and CIA now work so closely together is fascinating on a number of levels. But it's particularly remarkable accomplishment, given the fact that the two agencies until fairly recently hated each others' guts.

Ingenues and TBARs

As detailed in my history of the NSA, The Secret Sentry, the CIA and NSA had what could best be described as a contentious relationship during the Cold War era. Some NSA veterans still refer to their colleagues at the CIA as 'TBARs,' which stands for 'Those Bastards Across the River,' with the river in question being the Potomac. Perhaps reflecting their higher level of educational accomplishment, CIA officers have an even more lurid series of monikers for their NSA colleagues at Fort Meade, most of which cannot be repeated in polite company because of recurring references to fecal matter. One retired CIA official described his NSA counterparts as "a bunch of damn ingenues." Another CIA veteran perhaps put it best when he described the Cold War relationship amongst and between his agency and the NSA as "the best of enemies."

The Blind Spot


Can President Obama get away with neglecting half a billion people?

It would have been so easy. A couple of years ago, when he was visiting Brazil, all President Barack Obama would have had to do is what he did when visiting India. Call an audible. Offer to support Brazil as a candidate for permanent U.N. Security Council membership. It was very important to the Brazilians. And no one -- not one single person on Earth -- would have expected the U.S. president to actually follow through on the promise during his term. He would have gained much at virtually no cost.

But, no. The D team of the foreign-policy community -- which is to say those responsible for U.S. Latin America policy at the time (with a few notable exceptions) -- felt it was more important to punish Brazil for having had the audacity to actually have a foreign policy of its own, working with the Turks to try to reopen a constructive dialogue with Iran. An easy opportunity was squandered by pettiness and shortsightedness. But before you blame the worker bees in the government, it is important to note that senior policymakers -- even if they had a larger strategic view -- didn't do much to advance it.

What made the blown opportunity worse was that, because the administration viewed its relationship with Turkey as special, because the president felt a special bond with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey was never similarly punished despite its partnership with Brazil on the initiative. Of course, Erdogan rewarded the president for his support by undercutting democracy in his country and supporting some pretty nasty factions in Syria, despite U.S. opposition.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, on the very same Brazil trip, even as the president was visiting with President Dilma Rousseff in her offices in Brasilia, yards away senior U.S. officials were availing themselves of Brazilian hospitality to run the White House command center overseeing incipient operations in Libya.

But this was not the only missed opportunity for the United States in Latin America during the past four years. Despite the efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put Mexico atop the list of U.S. policy priorities, precious little concrete has been done to strengthen the relationship on the economic, social, or energy side of the ledger. (The United States has been helpful in fighting the war against cartels, but at the same time, on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, when Mexico is doing well and the United States should be working to strengthen ties with its neighbor, its main conversation is about building a higher wall to divide the two countries.) Despite finally getting around to approving the Bush-initiated trade deals with Colombia, Peru, and Panama, the United States has made zero progress toward a next step in trade policy in the region (like trying to establish a Mercosur-NAFTA road map to closer cooperation) -- a fact made all the more awkward given its intensive focus on next-generation trade deals to the east and to the west.

But mostly what has resonated in the Western Hemisphere during the past four years is a general lack of any U.S. interest or material activity in the region -- beyond regularly bumping heads with the Latin American left and patently dismissing the agenda items that Latin Americans want to discuss when meeting in multilateral settings (a drug policy that addresses demand in the United States, the flow of U.S. guns into the region, or a more rational Cuba policy).

The administration should have seen the death of Hugo Chávez as a chance to recast the relationship with that substantial group of left-leaning leaders in the region. After all, Obama and those around him not so secretly harbor the desire to bring the U.S.-Cuba relationship into the 21st century by developing a road map to end the embargo, one of the all-time greatest flops in U.S. foreign-policy history. That would win some points. And some of the region's top officials from the left, like Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, have been more constructive on issues like drug-enforcement cooperation and even seemingly more open to progress on some trade issues. And given that the left has so much clout in many of the region's most important countries -- like Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, not to mention Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Cuba, and perhaps Chile, where former President Michelle Bachelet is poised for a comeback -- it seems that would be worth the United States' while. (Not to mention the fact that making nice with the Pacific half of Latin America to the exclusion of the Atlantic half seems strategically silly.)

Since the United States is perfectly happy to work with left-leaning governments everywhere else in the world (and others that are authoritarian or worse -- yes, I mean you, Vladimir), we have to ask, why is the Latin America policy establishment having such a hard time getting over the 1980s? Or the 1960s? (The joke in the community goes that there are two factions in the Latin America policy community -- those still living in the '60s and those still living in the '80s. But all seem more familiar with the Cold War's tactics and more inclined to discuss import substitution and old school North-South politics than they are with the new realities of this century.)

If the answer is hard to fathom, the consequences could not be more obvious. The absence of any real focus on the region except to complain about trade disputes or quibble with the likes of Chávez (an understandable pursuit but not a suitable basis for a regional policy) has created a void that means when something goes wrong, it actually is seen as the totality of U.S. policy in the Americas.

Militarizing the Internet?

July 17, 2013

Following a recent speech, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey dismissed concerns about the U.S. militarization of cyberspace. “We have a Navy, but we are not being accused of militarizing the ocean,” he said. As the world reflects on and responds to the actions of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, and as the investigation of possible leaks by former Joint Chiefs vice chairman General James Cartwright unfolds, it is difficult to avoid wondering if General Dempsey’s answer is the best the administration can muster. An increasing number of adversaries and even allies are coming to believe that the United States is militarizing cyberspace—and that impression of hubris and irresponsibility is beginning to have a real-world impact.

So what needs to be done? New thinking is required, in at least three ways: First, the administration needs to acknowledge that this is a problem. Second, a more holistic approach is required when making national-security decisions that affect the internet. Third, the government needs to learn to respond to these types of leaks in a way that does not make the situation worse.

Acknowledging the Problem

The Snowden leaks have brought Stuxnet, the U.S.-Israeli program allegedly used to attack Iranian computer systems, back into public debate—and reminded us that the real damage of the Snowden revelations will be international. President Obama looks set to weather the domestic storm, and after a round of outrage—some real, some feigned—the diplomatic fallout from the various spying allegations will eventually subside. Susan Rice, the new national-security adviser, might have been a little optimistic when she said, “I don’t think the diplomatic consequences, at least in the foreseeable future, are that significant.” She will have some difficult conversations with European leaders, annoyed at the reigniting of previous domestic controversies about the privacy implications of U.S. counterterrorism policy. But other priorities, including the economy, will ensure that U.S.-European relations remain firm. So it is difficult to imagine she will lose much sleep over Chinese complaints on the subject of cyber espionage.

Yet the perception that the United States has become a danger to the global internet is a cause for concern. In their understandable anger at the considerable damage Snowden has done (in the near term at the very least) to the operations of NSA and their allies, U.S. security officials should not lose sight of this fact. Snowden’s claims build on the Stuxnet revelations. In doing so, they reinforce an impression of overbearing U.S. cyberpower (military and commercial) being used irresponsibly. That is strikingly at odds with the U.S. self-image as a standard bearer of internet freedom and “borderless” exchange, but it is a view that resonates around the world.

At the most basic level, that sense of double standards legitimizes bad behavior directed back at the United States. Many in the U.S. private sector believe that the distributed denial of service attacks that they are suffering from Iranian-backed groups are a response to Stuxnet. So you can imagine how little sympathy such attacks elicit in parts of the world where there are already high levels of anti-U.S. sentiment. More practically, Stuxnet demonstrated the ways in which critical infrastructure can be attacked and removed any taboo that existed that might have prevented it. Not surprisingly, many researchers fear that it is only a matter of time before this country suffers a taste of its own medicine.