12 August 2013

Go in for caliberated responses

The real challenge is to understand the Chinese psyche and decode the thinking of its leadership. This demands the building up of a strategic culture through collective wisdom and formulation of a long term policy.

Maj Gen G.G. Dwivedi (Retd)

Chinese troops parade in Beijing. China has consistently refined its military doctrine in consonance with threat perception and accretion in its military capability. 

MANY people seem to know China, but very few understand it, according to eminent scholar Derek Bodde. Those who deal with China often feel frustrated and bewildered, when actions of the Chinese leadership send mixed signals, making clear interpretations extremely difficult. This is primarily due to the lack of insight into Chinese psyche, its strategic culture and functioning of the Communist system.

In his book, Understanding China, Henry Kissinger states, "China sees itself a returning power and does not view the prospect of a strong China exercising influence as unnatural." Lee Kuan Yew opines that the People's Republic of China (PRC) is wise not to repeat the mistakes of Germany and Japan to challenge the existing order during the course of its resurgence. Although, China projects its rise as a peaceful one, yet it stands alone, without any trusted allies.

The unsettled border coupled with rapid pace of China's defence modernisation, is a matter of deep concern for India. Despite the debacle in 1962 and numerous incidences on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India has failed to formulate a pragmatic China Policy. The tendency to underplay the Chinese threat and a passive attitude has only emboldened the PRC. Recent transgressions by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh are case in point.

Lately, India seems to have woken up to the reality of China's growing military might. However, the Dragon's assertiveness can only be checkmated by building up the requisite capability. To this end, it is prudent to decipher Chinese strategic thinking and undertake an introspection of its war fighting doctrine.

Chinese Strategic Calculus

China's grand strategy aims to achieve its clearly defined national objectives -- defending sovereignty and territorial integrity, maintaining internal stability and sustaining economic growth — essential prerequisites to attaining great power status. Any threat to the rule of the Communist Party is unacceptable.

The PRC remains hyper sensitive to its periphery as peace around it is essential to maintain the pace of progress. Safeguarding its core national interests, which include Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and the South China Sea, is paramount, where it is even inclined to use force. As per China's threat assessment, the US and Japan are perceived to be the prime security concerns. India is seen as a potential threat.

China's thinking since ancient times professed that best way to respond to threat was to eliminate it. Its classics stressed the value of violent solutions to conflicts and offensive over defensive strategies. When confronted with a more powerful opponent the strategy is flexible; employing non-coercive means, but only as an interim expedient.

Appeasing Pakistan at the cost of national interest

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A feckless Prime Minister can only be expected to cut corners with India's interest and security. But that does not mean we should let Manmohan Singh do so unchallenged and unquestioned

The outpouring of rage across the country after Pakistani soldiers sneaked across the Line of Control in the Poonch sector and ambushed an Indian Army post, killing five jawans, earlier this week, could have only been missed by a criminally callous Government like the one which currently presides over India’s steady but steep decline and decay. Hence it’s not surprising that Defence Minister AK Antony stumbled so badly in articulating the UPA’s response to the dastardly deed by Pakistan in our Parliament.

Instead of pinning the responsibility for the murder of our soldiers on Pakistan, Antony first sought to absolve those guilty of the crime by describing them as “persons in Pakistani Army uniform”. It is now believed the Defence Minister’s statement, which marked a sharp departure from the Defence Department’s statement blaming the Pakistani Army, was vetted and cleared by the National Security Adviser and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs. That followed their meeting with diplomats of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi who had been ostensibly summoned to South Block to register India’s protest. 

We will never know what prompted the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of External Affairs to rush to Pakistan’s aid and put a gloss over its crime. Friends in the Ministry of External Affairs who are appalled by the Government offering an escape route to Pakistan say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is desperate to broker ‘peace’ at any cost, even if it means cutting corners with India’s national interest.

The reasons for this desperation are no secret. Manmohan Singh believes that if he tries hard enough, he can secure the Nobel Prize for Peace. For that he needs the US’s endorsement. The US, in turn, wants him to turn a Nelson’s eye to Pakistan’s offences and accept Islamabad’s terms for a rapprochement, no matter how tenuous that may be. Pakistan, meanwhile, has let it be known that it shall persist with its policy of inflicting a thousand cuts and India could either take it or leave it. Manmohan Singh, clearly, is more than willing to take it if it means a pat on the back by US President Barack Obama and an invitation to the glittering Nobel ceremony to collect this year’s Peace Prize.

For a man whose inaction, chicanery and incompetence has dragged India’s economy back to the pre-1990s (Morgan Stanley says this year’s growth could be as low as 3.5 per cent) and whose crafty pandering to crass minorityism to keep his political boss (Congress president and NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi) happy has caused buried communal fault lines to resurface, this is the only road to securing a place in history. Little does he realise that once he demits office, which he will have to, he shall be reduced to no more than a footnote of history, a reminder that India was misgoverned by a gang of thieves for nine years with Manmohan Singh playing Ali Baba.

Yet he persists in search of the proverbial ‘sim-sim’, the magic code that will allow him entry to the world of immortality. If that means the truth should be subverted and national security compromised, if it requires playing fast and loose with India’s pride and dignity, he is game. We have seen this in the past too —when he travelled to Havana and declared, along with General Pervez Musharraf, that Pakistan is not the tormentor and perpetrator of terror as Indians believe it is, but a victim of terror; when he agreed to the shameful joint statement dictated by Yousuf Raza Gilani, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, and issued from Sharm el-Sheikh; when he slyly bypassed the national consensus that there should be no talks with Pakistan till it brings the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage to book; when he allowed Pakistani Ministers and officials to pour scorn and ridicule on India while standing on Indian soil. The tailoring of the Defence Minister’s statement is, therefore, understandable, as is the rush to whitewash Pakistan’s sin.

Thankfully, an alert Opposition spotted the difference and the BJP pilloried the Government till it ate crow and the Defence Minister made a second statement, this time accusing “specialist troops” of the Pakistani Army for the killings: “We all know nothing happens along the Line of Control without the support... direct involvement of the Pakistani Army,” he added for good measure. The revised statement followed reports, planted (or leaked, as some would prefer) by ‘sources’, that Sonia Gandhi was mighty displeased with the Government for playing ducks and drakes.

Two landmark events in India's national security

Sun, 11 Aug 2013
By IANS

“It is vital that the national security establishment succumbs neither to unbridled euphoria of agencies involved nor to excessive scepticism of the media, and retains a balanced perspective about these two events.”

Admiral (Retd) Arun Prakash.

Reuters

Amidst the ongoing tragic-comic political theatre of Delhi and the general air of despondency that pervades all over, the Indian Navy, in its unique low-key style, is about to make two landmark contributions to national security that should bring considerable cheer.

The nuclear reactor that propels Arihant, our first ballistic missile submarine (SSBN in naval parlance), went critical Aug 9. This product of the Advanced Technology Vessel Project (ATVP), launched in 2009, will, in due course, become the 'third leg' of India's nuclear deterrent force.

On Aug 12, Defence Minister A.K. Antony will ceremonially launch India's first home-built aircraft carrier, to be eventually named Vikrant, in Kochi. There are not many navies in the world today that can look forward to the near simultaneous induction of two such powerful (and expensive) platforms into their inventory in the foreseeable future.

However, it is vital that the national security establishment succumbs neither to unbridled euphoria of agencies involved nor to excessive scepticism of the media, and retains a balanced perspective about these two events.

While good for national morale, neither vessel will have an immediate impact on our security posture. Both projects still have some way to go, and it is essential to draw right conclusions and take some early decisions for the future.

The Arihant will now be put through a gruelling programme of trials which will test the actual performance of the vessel and all on-board systems on the surface and underwater. Three features of the Arihant will attract the closest attention of friend and foe alike -- the performance of its nuclear reactor; its acoustic signature (or generated noise) which is an index of stealth or 'detectability'; and its missile-range which indicates its lethality as a deterrent platform.

While the first two will be found empirically, we already know that the range of its K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a mere 750 km. Thus, while the Arihant may sail out on a deterrent patrol in about a year's time, the DRDO will need to deliver a SLBM of over 3,500 km range for her (or her sisters) to become truly effective.

For DRDO, the ATV stands out as a singular achievement which, in spite of formidable challenges, forged ahead steadily to fruition. In an otherwise dismal defence-research and production scenario this significant success can be attributed to three major factors which should provide salutary lessons for government and other two Services.

First, the high level of synergy and co-ordination attained by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) smoothened the way. Second, the good sense displayed in placing the navy in the driving seat resulted in early user-initiated course-corrections. And finally, the autonomy granted to the project enabled rapid executive and financial decision-making and permitted extensive private-sector participation in critical areas.

Unquiet on the front

C. Raja Mohan : Sun Aug 11 2013, 

Delhi must move towards more responsible management of the LoC and LAC

India's contested borders with China and Pakistan are seeing more frequent military tension. The UPA government's failure to effectively manage these borders has pushed India into crises of the kind that followed the recent Chinese intrusion in Ladakh and the violent incidents on the Pakistan frontier.

The military character of India's borders with China and Pakistan has significantly changed in the last couple of decades. Yet, the political instruments to maintain peace on these borders have not evolved. While that gap is generating repeated military confrontations, the domestic and international political costs of these crises have risen. Delhi, then, must find ways to prevent these incidents from occurring and better manage the political fallout when they do.

While both borders demand more effective management, the problems are somewhat different on either front. It is for good reason that India has separate names for the contested frontiers with Pakistan (Line of Control) and China (Line of Actual Control). The 776 km LoC with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir is demarcated and the two armies signed off on its precise alignment after the 1971 war. Delhi and Beijing, however, have not been able to delineate the LAC. They don't even agree on its length. The divergent perceptions of the LAC lead to regular military friction in many parts of the disputed frontier with China.

Over the decades, the LoC has become intensely militarised. It is the lighting rod for unending conflict, as the Pakistan army pushes militants across the LoC to destabilise Kashmir and the Indian army counters the infiltration. In contrast, the Indian and Chinese armies have not fired a shot in anger across the LAC for many decades. That happy situation may be coming to an end thanks to the rapid modernisation of the Chinese armed forces and Beijing's greater assertiveness on territorial disputes.

India's effort to restore the military balance on the border has run into Chinese opposition. As the two armies draw close to the once neglected border and aggressively patrol the disputed areas, there are more "intrusions" across the LAC, followed by political tension. During Rajiv Gandhi's visit to China at the end of 1988, the two sides agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the long and disputed boundary. Since then, there have been many agreements on this theme.

The Ladakh intrusion has underlined the importance of moving beyond general statements on maintaining peace and tranquility to specific procedures and practices to prevent military confrontation and its escalation. That is the focus of Delhi's current efforts to finalise a border defence cooperation agreement with Beijing. In negotiating a new military regimen with Beijing, Delhi needs more active army inputs on border management strategy to redress one important imbalance. In China, it is the PLA that drives the border policy. On the Indian side, it is dominated by the foreign office.

Unlike on the LAC with China, there is little political effort to manage the military dynamic on the LoC with Pakistan. The UPA government ducks for cover and the opposition BJP plays to domestic galleries; together they turn even routine incidents into major political crises. In the end, though, it is the responsibility of the government to lead. But the ministry of defence (MoD) has little intellectual heft or administrative capacity to define and supervise policies for LoC management. The PMO and the MoD have, in recent years, abandoned the civilian responsibility for policy leadership of the military domain. That largely leaves the Indian army to handle the LoC dynamic as it sees fit, with no input or support from the political and bureaucratic side. This is not good for the army or the nation as a whole.

When someone moves your cheese

Maja DaruwalaVenkatesh Nayak

Unlike many countries that have passed laws to protect citizens’ privacy, the Indian state is collecting more and more information about private individuals under various pretexts and restricting their right to access their own information

Does a serving employee of a premier intelligence agency have the right to inspect his own biodata which that agency handed over to another public authority? Then again, does a former employee of that agency have the right to access his own service records under the Right to Information (RTI) Act? The agency in question is the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) which the RTI Act does not cover unless the information sought relates to allegations of human rights violations and corruption. The Central Information Commission (CIC) recently denied an NTRO employee access to his biodata but ordered NTRO to supply copies of his appraisal reports.

In the first case, the applicant did not seek information from NTRO at all. NTRO had supplied a copy of his biodata to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which was conducting a special audit of its financial transactions, under court orders. The applicant sought inspection of the documents held by the CAG. The applicant had inside information, supported by media reports, that his biodata had allegedly been doctored. He wanted to correct the erroneous information — a reasonable expectation by any standard. Under the RTI Act, any information that intelligence and security agencies like the NTRO give to the Central government also cannot be disclosed to a citizen unless they relate to allegations of human rights violations and corruption. Parliament added these exceptions specifically to make such agencies accountable for serious wrongdoing.

The NTRO employee argued that the CAG being a constitutional authority was not part of the Central government, so he had a right to see his biodata. In the Constitution, the provisions relating to the CAG are placed separate from the chapter which explains how the Central Government will be constituted and function. The CAG’s powers and duties are determined by an Act of Parliament and not by any executive order of the Central government. The CAG is not established, owned or controlled by the Central government. Clearly, the CAG is an authority independent of the Central government. The CIC, however, rejected this argument and upheld the order of the CAG’s Public Information Officer, denying access to the applicant’s biodata. The CIC held that the Central CAG is a public authority under the Central government and that it has no duty to disclose the applicant’s biodata. So, the CIC has ended up creating newer grounds to deny access to information. This is not legally permissible as the power to expand or shorten the list of exemptions belongs to Parliament, not the CIC.

As right

In the second case, the CIC held that NTRO’s refusal to give copies of his performance appraisal reports may result in the violation of his human rights to life, survival and future job prospects. The CIC did not take into account several Supreme Court judgments which hold that service-related grievances cannot be treated as instances of violation of human rights.

How to Read Afghanistan

Rashin Kheiriyeh
By VANESSA M. GEZARI
Published: August 10, 2013

ON a sunny, crisp November day in 2008, three American civilians joined a platoon of United States soldiers on a foot patrol in Maiwand District, a flat, yellow patch of earth crowned by black-rock mountains in southern Afghanistan. The civilians were part of the Human Terrain System, an ambitious, troubled Army program that sends social scientists into conflict zones to help soldiers understand local culture, politics and economics.

That day, the team planned to interview shoppers coming and going from a nearby bazaar. Afghans had complained about the high price of flour, so the Human Terrain Team members were creating a consumer price index. They also wanted to find out whether Afghan officials were asking shopkeepers for bribes, and how merchants protected themselves and their goods in a place where insurgents and local security forces threatened civilians in equal measure.

The team’s social scientist that day was Paula Loyd, a 36-year-old Wellesley graduate and Army veteran with degrees in anthropology and diplomacy and years of experience as a development worker in Afghanistan. Through her interpreter, she struck up a conversation with an Afghan man who was carrying a jug of fuel, asking how much he had paid for it. They talked genially until her interpreter was called away. Suddenly, the man doused Ms. Loyd with gas from his jug and lit her on fire.

It was one stunning act of violence in a conflict that has killed more than 2,100 American troops and wounded more than 19,000. As the United States drawdown approaches, stalled peace talks with the Taliban, Afghan political maneuvering and the waste of billions in taxpayer dollars dominate headlines. Each new attack stokes our yearning for a quick exit. But the more assiduously we seek to put the pain and hard-won lessons of this conflict behind us, the more likely we will be to repeat the same mistakes in the next war.

Paula Loyd died of her injuries a few months after the attack, in January 2009. Soon after, I flew to Kandahar to try to figure out who had set her on fire, and why. It seemed obvious that the Taliban were behind it, but the assault was unusual, to say the least. She was unarmed, interviewing people and taking notes, something I’d often done in villages around Afghanistan. I couldn’t remember a Taliban attack that resembled it. Neither, it turned out, could anyone else.

Over the next two years, I would hear nearly a dozen accounts of what had motivated Ms. Loyd’s assailant. (He couldn’t tell me why he did it, because minutes after the attack, he was shot by one of Ms. Loyd’s grief-stricken colleagues.) The stories often conflicted, but each one illuminated the crisscrossing narratives of the war. I spent my formative years as a journalist in Afghanistan, and reporting there taught me something that would pass for heresy in many American newsrooms: finding the truth is not just about gathering facts. It is also an interpretive and imaginative effort.

Afghans have a knack for the nonliteral. They value stories for reasons that have nothing to do with the practical information they contain. In his recent memoir, “A Fort of Nine Towers,” Qais Akbar Omar writes of a Dari literature teacher who helped him see that “there is more to a story than its plot. She told us that images created by words can have hidden meanings.” The scion of a prosperous Kabul family, Mr. Omar is that rare Afghan lucky enough to have grown up in a house full of books.

The long arc of justice in Afghanistan

By Heather Barr
August 9, 2013

No one knows who killed Islam Bibi. The 37-year old police lieutenant, the most senior female officer in southern Afghanistan's dangerous Helmand province, was riding a motorcycle to work in early July with her son-in-law, when she was shot and killed. During her career, she faced many threats, only some of them related to the violent insurgency and rampant narco-trafficking that threaten all Afghan police officers in the province. In April, Bibi told a journalist that her family opposed her working as a police officer, and that her own brother had tried to kill her three times.

In spite of these daily hazards, both inside and outside the home, she took great pride in her work. "I love my country. I feel proud wearing the uniform and I want to try to make Afghanistan a better and stronger country," she said. "I am a policewoman and I will be a policewoman in the future. I'd be proud if my daughter wanted to follow me."

It has been 12 years since the fall of the Taliban government but threats and attacks on Afghan women in public life provide tragic examples of how far away equal rights for women are in Afghanistan. Some Western observers, arguing for a swift disengagement from Afghanistan, seem increasingly convinced that the effort is doomed. This chorus holds that perhaps women's rights are a "Western" imposition on Afghan society that just won't stick. Or perhaps Afghans just aren't ready for these ideas. Maybe even Afghan women themselves don't believe in these rights. In such a traditional society, people say, shaking their heads, what can we do?

Unfortunately, such myopic arguments for scaling back international aid and involvement in women's rights in Afghanistan, at a time when coalition troops are preparing to withdraw from the country, is increasingly common. This thinking displays a clear lack of understanding that the frontline fighters for women's rights in Afghanistan since 2001 have been brave, resilient Afghan women who don't have the luxury of ending their struggle next year. The foreign rush-for-the exits impulse in Afghanistan, and willingness to write-off women's rights along the way, doesn't just overlook the sacrifices that Afghan women have made in fighting for their rights. It ignores the fact that the battle for women's rights has been a long, painful, and continuing process worldwide.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." When did the feminist movement begin in the United States, or in the United Kingdom, or in Iceland - which has been ranked several times the best country in the world for women? How long did it take these countries to achieve full gender equality? Wait, ignore that last question - no country has yet achieved full gender equality.

In 1848, the first U.S. women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Seventy-one years later, in 1919, the U.S. constitution was amended to give women the right to vote, but it was not until 1984 that the last state, Mississippi, ratified this amendment. Today, women in the United States earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. In the United Kingdom, women have had the right to vote since 1928, but recent research shows that women's progress towards pay equality has stalled over recent years. And Iceland, the paragon of women's rights, has topped the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report for four years. The first women's rights organization in Iceland was founded in 1894, and women gained equal voting rights in 1920. But in 2011, Icelandic women were earning 10% less than men, and in 2012, the (female) Icelandic Prime Minister warned that the pay gap had grown.

Similar to the fight for women's rights in these progressive Western countries, the fight for women's rights in Afghanistan will also be a long one. Many historians believe it began in 1880 with reforms instituted by Amir Abdul Rahman Khan and his liberated wife that included raising the age of marriage for girls and granting women the right to divorce and own property. In the 1960s through the 1980s, some Afghan women, at least in urban centers, enjoyed freedoms unheard of today. Photographs of women from that era, showing them with uncovered heads in knee-length skirts wandering about town or rapt in university studies, are akin to postcards from a lost world. But these freedoms were largely unknown in rural areas and have long been at odds with conservative male interpretations of the role of women in society.

Japan’s Debt About 3 Times Larger Than ASEAN’s GDP

By Zachary Keck
August 10, 2013

Japan’s staggering national debt has hit a new milestone: one quadrillion yen (or 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen).

On Friday, the government announced that as of June 30, Japan’s outstanding debt was a little over one quadrillion yen. The equivalent of 1,000 trillion yen, Bloomberg Businessweek pointed out that the term "quadrillion" is not often used.

According to Bloomberg News, one quadrillion yen equals 10.46 trillion U.S. dollars. Based on the figures collected by the Australian Government and International Monetary Fund, the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) aggregate GDP, in purchasing parity power terms, stood at about US$3.6 trillion in 2012. That means that Japan’s national debt is just less than three times the size of ASEAN’s entire GDP.

To be fair, Japan’s public debt is also about twice as large as its own GDP. Still, ASEAN consists of ten separate nations, some of which are quite prosperous. ASEAN’s population of about 615.6 million people is also around five times the size of Japan’s 127.5 million citizens.

All of this means that Shinzo Abe, who now has control over both houses of parliament, will face tough choices in the months ahead. The first of these is expected next month when the increased sales tax is expected to be take hold.

In August of last year, under Abe’s predecessor, Yoshihiko Noda, Japan’s Diet passed a contentious bill that called for increasing the country’s sale tax from the current 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014 and 10 percent in October 2015. The bill did include a provision that would allow the prime minister to delay the tax increase if he judged it would be an excessive burden on the economy.

Abe has convened a panel of experts to assess how badly the tax increase would impact economic growth. A decision is expected next month.

In the meantime, Japan’s fiscal difficulties will continue to mount. Bloomberg has forecasted that even with the tax hike Japan will run a fiscal deficit of more than 10 percent of GDP this year, an increase over last year.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Cabinet Office released a report this week that predicted that the Abe administration is unlikely to reach its deficit reduction benchmarks in the years ahead, even if the tax hikes are implemented according to the timetable outlined in the bill from last year.

Abe’s administration has pledged to cut the primary balance deficit in half by fiscal year 2015, from the 6.6 percent deficit (in relation to GDP) that Japan posted in 2010. It also pledged to have Japan running a primary balance surplus by the fiscal year beginning in 2020. 

According to the Cabinet Office report, if the consumption tax hikes are implemented Japan will only reach the first goal of a 3.3 percent deficit ratio by 2015 if it posts 3 percent nominal growth rates for the next decade. By 2020, Tokyo would still have a deficit of 2 percent under this growth scenario; not a surplus.

SINO-INDIAN RELATIONS:CONTOURS ACROSS THE PLA INTRUSION CRISES

Dr Sheo Nandan Pandey, Prof. Hem Kusum, c3s paper no 1180 dated August 5, 2013

From rather a brink of hot engagement in the wake of unprovoked Chinese intrusion in the western sector of the India-Tibet border region, the China-India relationship seem to be moving towards a stage of relative thaw, if not sustained cooperative intercourse. Political and diplomatic sagacity, displayed subsequently at the two ends have evidently gone full drive to this end. This is while the dynamics of the issue hitherto remain unchanged. The paper, in its perspective, looks at the plausible contours across the sordid development and dwells on options and recourses for the Indian nation while revisiting the incident.

Introduction

Over just few months, the five and odd decade long estranged Sino-Indian relations seem to turn a new leaf. This is all with a caveat of hardliners in Chinese politico-diplomatic and military establishments do not spoil the broth. A host of positive Chinese media reporting on the outcomes of the 16th Round of special representative level border talks and subsequent high level exchanges lends credence to this summation.[i] Not less important is the spoiler such as the provocative statement of Major General Luo Yuan and his ilk falling wayside.[ii]

As the ground realities bear out, China-India relationship runs through a matrix of two extremes of philia and phobia. In fact, each of the 17 countries having had land and/or marine unresolved border dispute with China has a distinct story to this effect. Zhongnanhai mandarins carry reputations to run ‘cost-benefit analyses before taking a particular stance on a critical issue. As such, unless one gives blindfolded allowance to systems default, Chinese intrusion in the western sector of the India-Tibet border region could be safely hypothesized as a ‘strategic move dyed in tactical guise’ with unstated military and other objectives. Little different could be said about occasional hawkish statements of the Chinese PLA brass.

The paper, in this perspective, delves into the Chinese ‘intent and strategy’. In public pronouncements, both in diplomatic and journalistic channels, the Chinese mandarins have characteristically had kept a wrap over the elements of ‘hostility’. For a number of reasons, they got to choose and employ rather ‘covert’ means. In included ‘stock denial’ of the incident in open forum while upping the ante in diplomatic discourse were the two strategic recourses. In the analytics, for data support, the paper draws on open source materials. Where needed, the study employs interpretive research technique with a difference. Schematically, it deliberates into the latest PLA intrusions in western sector, thoroughly examines the scruples and veracity of the Chinese stance on the issue in its perspective, goes into and dwells on the transgression spree of the PLA units in different sectors of the border region, and last but not the least maps out options and recourses on the part of Indian side.

DBO Intrusion and the Fault Lines

The case of Chinese Intrusion in Daulat Beg Oldi (35° 23′ 24″ N, 77° 55′ 30″ E) along Indo-Tibet border region as such was per se a military action[iii]. Amidst denials, the intruding Chinese PLA unit continued to hold on for three weeks. Notwithstanding, the Chinese side had put through an array of bargain points. There is then little to gloss over the incident as a one and odd happening.

In over all perspective, this Chinese move fits well the description of ‘coercive diplomacy’. While one could doubt the rationale besides the audacity, one can’t fail marveling the sophisticates of the whole operation. Timing of the event is striking. It took place when the Chinese premier was to ink scores of agreements in the course of his first ever junket after taking over the rein. In the eyes of Joseph Ney, the success of coercive diplomacy squarely depended upon ‘the credibility and the cost of the threat’.[iv] Nevertheless, going by Daniel Byman and Matthew Waxman, the prime objective of using intrusion as a foreign policy tool was to ‘influence the decision of the adversary in a particular way’.[v] The upper limit of the coercion tool was then logically the use of brute force.

CHINA:XI JINPING’S FOREIGN POLICY – EXPECT NO END TO ASSERTIVENESS

D.S.Rajan, C3S Paper No.1181 
Dated August 6, 2013

This article approaches the subject using a twofold methodology – first towards tracing the history of foreign policy evolution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) covering the period till to date, providing the required basic data and the second aiming to assess how the policy worked at each stage and what are its implications for future.

Foreign Policy Evolution

In the PRC, there had always been firm connectivity between the identified domestic goals and foreign policy objectives. At the time of ‘liberation’ in 1949, the founder of the nation, Mao Zedong, concentrated on “ starting anew” and “putting the house in order” as domestic priorities; to serve that purpose, he chose the paths of ‘mass mobilisation’ and nationalisation of industries. To ensure there is no ‘imperialists’ interference in the country’s domestic course, Mao chose an external strategy of ‘leaning to one side’, i.e. seeking the backing of Socialist allies. Internal imperatives underwent a major change in the post-1978 period, with veteran leader Deng Xiaoping initiating a policy of reforms under the framework of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’; it was matched by an ‘open door’ foreign policy. As a break from Mao-era policy, no alliance with any outside power was envisaged.

The essence of Deng’s line continues till today, albeit with additional conceptual inputs from his successors to suit perceived conditions at different times. To illustrate, Jiang Zemin ( 1989-2002) formulated national policies centering round his theory of “ Three Represents”, aimed at making the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a representative of majority of the people and codified ‘three major historic tasks’ for China – “Modernisation, National Reunification and Safeguarding World Peace and Common Development”. He selected a matching external line of ‘Independent Foreign Policy of Peace’. Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao ( 2002-2012) brought forth a development model marking a shift in emphasis – from GDP centric growth to ‘balanced development’; it was backed by his own idea of “ Scientific Outlook of Development”, of which creation at home of a ‘Harmonious Socialist Society’ and ‘Sustainable development’ constituted main elements. Designed to suit to the conceived ‘primary stage of socialism’, the model provided for carrying out the country’s ‘own development practice, learning side by side from experiences of other countries’. Correspondingly, Hu put in place a foreign policy line based on the idea of a “Harmonious World” which laid emphasis on accomplishing ‘lasting peace and common prosperity, through a win-win solution in international relations’. It was left to the then Premier Wen Jiabao to pinpoint the links between his country’s domestic goals and external approach. In his words, “what China needs for its development first and foremost are an international environment of long term stability and a stable surrounding environment.”

What should not be missed at the same time is that in the middle of 2009, a new ‘core interests’ element had begun to dominate Hu Juntao’s “Harmonious World” external line; this persists till today. Central to this line is China’s resolve not to make any compromise on issues concerning national sovereignty, with option to use force in carrying it out. Though the ‘core interest’ areas, now being officially listed, are Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan, sometimes, South China Sea is also figuring under that category. The Senkaku islands, called Diao Yu by China, are the latest addition of Beijing to these areas (PRC foreign ministry spokesperson, 26 April 2013, as reported by Kyodo). Sino-Indian border has not so far come under China’s “core-interests” category. With equal priority being given to ‘core interests’, China’s external relations are now being marked by a big increase in the level of its territorial assertiveness in its neighborhood, leading to Beijing’s increasing friction with ASEAN nations, Japan and India on its claims in South China Sea, East China Sea and land borders respectively.

SINO-INDIAN RELATIONS: CONTOURS ACROSS THE PLA INTRUSION CRISES

09-Aug-2013
Guest Column by Dr Sheo Nandan Pandey & Prof. Hem Kusum

Abstract

From rather a brink of hot engagement in the wake of unprovoked Chinese intrusion in the western sector of the India-Tibet border region, the China-India relationship seems to be moving towards a stage of relative thaw, though not in a sustained cooperative intercourse.

Political and diplomatic sagacity, displayed subsequently at the two ends have evidently gone full drive to this end. This is while the dynamics of the issue hitherto remain unchanged. The paper, in its perspective, looks at the plausible contours across the sordid development and dwells on options and recourse for Indiawhile revisiting the incident.

Introduction

In the last few months, the five and odd decade long estranged Sino-Indian relations seem to be turning a new leaf. This is all with the caveat that hardliners in Chinese politico-diplomatic and military establishments do not spoil the broth. A host of positive reporting by the Chinese media on the outcome of the 16th Round of special representative level border talks and subsequent high level exchanges lends credence to this summation.1 Not less important is the spoiler such as the provocative statement of Major General Luo Yuan and his ilk falling by the wayside.2

As the ground realities bear out, China-India relationship runs through a matrix of two extremes of philia and phobia. In fact, each of the 17 countries having had land and/or marine unresolved border dispute with China has a distinct story to this effect. Zhongnanhai mandarins carry reputations to run ‘cost-benefit analyses before taking a particular stance on a critical issue. As such, unless one gives blindfolded allowance to systems default, Chinese intrusion in the western sector of the India-Tibet border region could be safely hypothesized as a ‘strategic move dyed in tactical guise’ with unstated military and other objectives. Little different could be said about occasional hawkish statements of the Chinese PLA brass. 

The paper, in this perspective, delves into the Chinese ‘intent and strategy’. In public pronouncements, both in diplomatic and journalistic channels, the Chinese mandarins have characteristically kept a wrap over the elements of ‘hostility’. For a number of reasons, they got to choose and employ rather ‘covert’ means. In included ‘stock denial’ of the incident in open forum while upping the ante in diplomatic discourse. In the analytics, for data support, the paper draws on open source materials. Where needed, the study employs interpretive research technique with a difference. Schematically, it deliberates into the latest PLA intrusions in western sector, thoroughly examines the scruples and veracity of the Chinese stance on the issue in its perspective, goes into and dwells on the transgression spree of the PLA units in different sectors of the border region, and last but not the least maps out options and recourse available on the part of Indian side.

DBO Intrusion and the Fault Lines

The case of Chinese Intrusion in Daulat Beg Oldi (35̊ 23' 24″ N, 77̊ 55' 30″ E) along Indo-Tibet border region as such was per se a military action.3 Amidst denials, the intruding Chinese PLA unit continued to hold on for three weeks. Notwithstanding, the Chinese side had put through an array of bargain points. There is then little to gloss over the incident as a one and odd happening.

US Grows Concerned About Japan’s Military Revival

By Zachary Keck
August 10, 2013

The U.S. is growing increasingly concerned with Japan’s overhaul of its military capabilities, a number of recent stories make clear.

Earlier this week Kyodo news reported that U.S. officials have expressed concern to their Japanese counterparts over Tokyo’s plans to develop the capability to conduct offensive assault operations against other countries in the region.

“One of the American officials attending bilateral talks on foreign and defense policy cooperation late last month in Tokyo asked the Japanese side to consider the possible negative fallout on neighboring countries if the Abe administration embarks on such a policy shift,” Kyodo quoted an unidentified Japanese official as saying.

The report went out to say that U.S. officials asked for clarification on which countries Japan would develop the capability to attack, and asked Japan to not worsen tensions with China and South Korea.

A similar line was taken earlier in July by Bradley H. Roberts, who until recently served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy. When asked about Japan’s plans to acquire a preemptive strike capability during an interview with the Japanese daily, Asahi Shimbun, Roberts said:

“When and if this becomes an official position of the Japanese government, there will be close consultations between Washington and Tokyo to assess this proposal in terms of its benefits, costs and potential risks.”

More tellingly, Roberts confirmed to Ashai that the United States has periodically given Japanese officials access to U.S. nuclear facilities since last year as part of the U.S.-Japan extended deterrence dialogue. According to Roberts, Japanese officials were not shown actual nuclear warheads but rather operational systems and delivery vehicles. The report suggested this included a “ballistic missile complex and a strategic nuclear submarine.”

In line with stated U.S. policy, Roberts denied that Washington’s extended deterrence was provided in order to Japan from pursing its own nuclear arsenal. Still, he said the U.S. gave Japanese officials access to the nuclear facilities in order to “confirm to its close ally its commitment to ensure an effective nuclear deterrent on its behalf.” Although the report didn’t indicate when in 2012 the visits to the nuclear facilities began, Japan has been locked in a standoff with China over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands after Tokyo announced plans to nationalize some of them in September of last year.

The Asahi report followed earlier ones in May that said the Obama administration has been urging Japan not to go through with opening the Rokkasho reprocessing facility, which is capable of producing nine tons of weapons-usable plutonium each year, enough to make roughly 2,000 nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials have also privately expressed concern over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remarks about Japan’s wartime aggression, which have angered many in the region, most notably China and South Korea.

Washington’s growing concerns with Japan’s plans to revamp its military underscore the dilemma the U.S. faces in managing its alliances and strategic partnerships in the region. On the one hand, Washington relies on its allies and partners to provide access to regional military bases from which it can project power in the region. The U.S. would also like to see other states bolster their own defenses in order to shoulder more of the burden for regional security.

China’s Worst Nightmare Is Turning Japanese

Aug 9, 2013 

Few words strike greater fear in the hearts of economists and politicians than “Japanization.” That specter of chronic malaise, deflation and bad debt has driven central bankers from Ben S. Bernanke in the U.S. toMario Draghi in Europe to flood markets with liquidity in an effort to avert their own lost decades.

It should worry China, then, that experts on this dreaded scenario are turning their attention to Beijing. Take Brian Reading, whose quest to understand what the world can learn from Tokyo’s mess dates back to his prescient 1992 book “Japan: The Coming Collapse.” He recently wrote a 40-page report with Lombard Street Research Ltd. colleague Diana Choyleva titled “China’s Chance to Avoid Japan’s Mistakes.”

William Pesek is based in Tokyo and writes on economics, markets and politics throughout the Asia-Pacific region. ..ace Ng to revisit the topic. She warns that China today and Japan in the 1980s share an uncannily similar buildup in broad measures of credit to almost double their economies’ size.

So, just how susceptible is China to Japanization? Very, actually, and only bold and creative action on the part of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang can avoid it. Think of their 10-year term that began in March as China’s make-or-break period to dodge a major debt crisis.

China’s Debt

China is not impossibly indebted, considering it has $3.5 trillion in currency reserves. JPMorgan reckons its debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio rose to 187 percent in 2012 from 105 percent in 2000, compared with Japan’s increase to 176 percent in 1990 from 127 percent in 1980. Japan’s has exploded since then and could approach 250 percent of GDP next year. That would mark a jump of 10 percent from 2012 alone in a fast-aging nation that’s losing global competitiveness.

China, also aging, couldn’t withstand a similar jump; it must rein things in now. Japan became rich before its society became old. It had decades to build a social contract between the public and private sectors, nurture a stable of innovative companies, and open the financial system. That legwork enabled Japan to muddle along for two decades without a huge debt meltdown or social unrest.

Yet Japan’s is also a tale of hubris and missed opportunities. Rather than quickly scrapping a model based on overinvestment, exports and excessive debt, Tokyo delayed change at all costs by relying on current-account surpluses, huge budget deficits and asset bubbles. In many ways, it still is.

Sound familiar? “China has so far followed in the footsteps of Japan,” Reading and Choyleva argue. “But its economy is not yet over-indebted. So there is time for China to avoid Japan’s mistakes if it changes course. The lesson from Japan’s experience in the 1970s and 80s is that change drives change and liberalisation becomes unavoidable. But unless policy is aimed at fundamental structural reform, the temporary solutions of running current account surpluses, budget deficits and spawning bubbles will eventually run out of steam and cause growth to stall. But China is far from having twenty more years to be blowing up bubbles.”

Kansas and Al Qaeda

Published: August 10, 2013

SALINA, Kan. — I’VE spent the last few months filming a Showtime documentary about how climate and environmental stresses helped trigger the Arab awakening. It’s been a fascinating journey because it forced me to look at the Middle East through the lens of Arab environmentalists instead of politicians. When you do that, you see the problems and solutions very differently. Environmentalists always start by thinking about the health of the “commons” — the shared air, soil, forests and water — that are the basis of all life, which, if not preserved, will undermine the whole society. The notion that securing the interests of any single group — Shiite or Sunni, Christian or Muslim, secular or Islamist — over the health of the commons is nuts to them. It’s as laughable as pictures of gun-toting fighters strutting on the rubble of broken buildings in Aleppo or Benghazi, claiming “victory,” only to discover that they’ve “won” a country with eroding soil, degrading forests, scarce water, shrinking jobs — a deteriorating commons.
Josh Haner/The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

Our film crew came to look at the connection between the drought in Kansas and the rise in global food prices that helped to fuel the Arab uprisings. But I stumbled upon another powerful environmental insight here: the parallel between how fossil fuels are being used to power monoculture farms in the Middle West and how fossil fuels are being used to power wars to create monoculture societies in the Middle East. And why both are really unhealthy for their commons.

My teacher here was Wes Jackson, the MacArthur award winner, based in Salina, where he founded The Land Institute. Jackson’s philosophy is that the prairie was a diverse wilderness, with a complex ecosystem that supported all kinds of wildlife, not to mention American Indians — until the Europeans arrived, plowed it up and covered it with single-species crop farms, mostly wheat, corn, or soybeans. Jackson’s goal is to restore the function of the diverse polyculture prairie ecosystem and rescue it from the single-species, annual monoculture farming, which is exhausting the soil, the source of all prairie life. “We have to stop treating soil like dirt,” he says.

Jackson knows this has to be economically viable. That’s why his goal is to prove that species of wheat and other grains that scientists at The Land Institute are developing can be grown as perennials with deep roots — so you would not need to regularly till the soil or plant seeds. The way to do that, he believes, is by growing mixtures of those perennial grains, which will mimic the prairie and naturally provide the nutrients and pesticides. The need for fossil-fuel-powered tractors and fertilizers would be much reduced, with the sun’s energy making up the difference. That would be so much better for the soil and the climate, since most soil carbon would not be released.

Annual monocultures are much more susceptible to disease and require much more fossil fuel energy — plows, fertilizer, pesticides — to maintain. Perennial polycultures, by contrast, notes Jackson, provide species diversity, which provides chemical diversity, which provides much more natural resistance and “can substitute for the fossil fuels and chemicals that we’ve not evolved with.”

Jackson maintains some original prairie vegetation. As we walk through it, he explains: This is nature’s own “tree of life.” This prairie, like a forest, “features material recycling, runs on sunlight, and does not have an epidemic that wipes it all out. You know during the Dust Bowl years of the ’30s, the crops died, but the prairie survived.” Then he points to his experimental perennial grain crops: “That’s the tree of knowledge.” Our challenge, and it will take years, he notes, is to find a way to blend the tree of life with the tree of knowledge to develop domestic prairies that could have high-yielding fields planted once every several years, whose crops would only need harvesting and species diversity could “take care of insects, pathogens and fertility.”

And that brings us back to the Middle East. Al Qaeda often says that if the Muslim world wants to restore its strength, it needs to go back to the “pure” days of Islam, when it was a monoculture unsullied by foreign influences. In fact, the “Golden Age” of the Arab/Muslim world was when it became a polyculture between the 8th and 13th centuries. Of that era, Wikipedia says, “During this period the Arab world became an intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education. ...” It was “a collection of cultures, which put together, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and Phoenician civilizations.”

The Changing Face of the Israeli Defense Forces

August 11, 2013
Taking Wing

Israel’s armed forces are shifting emphasis from mechanised warfare toward air and cyber power

JERUSALEM — Some 30,000 soldiers are slowly vacating their bases in Israel’s main city, Tel Aviv, and moving to the Negev desert. By the end of the decade, much of the country’s army will have migrated to four huge bases alongside Bedouin shanties. Tel Aviv’s developers, relishing the prospect of building on vast tracts of the country’s most valuable land, talk of turning swords into timeshares. They plan an 80-storey tower for the Kirya, the old British base in the city centre, which for the past six decades has been the headquarters of the general staff. Large parts of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) expect to withdraw from coastal population centres. Overall, the men in uniform, who long dominated the state, are becoming more peripheral.

Israeli defence spending remains the world’s fifth highest per person and young Jews continue to do up to three years of military service. In the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, the army’s hold on the body politic can still be felt, but it is no longer as strong as it once was. As Israel’s economy has boomed, military spending has fallen from 17.7% of GDP in 1991 to around 6% today. The Knesset sliced $1 billion off the most recent defence budget, the steepest cut in two decades. Led by a maverick hawk, Moshe Feiglin, politicians of all stripes are campaigning to professionalise what has long been a people’s army. “The compulsory draft produces adverse results,” says Mr Feiglin. “The IDF relies on cheap manual labour instead of specialisation and technology and this harms the country’s defences.”

Although stopping short of ending the draft, the Knesset this month approved a military restructuring plan that prods the army towards professionalisation. It urges a shift away from manpower-intensive armoured divisions in favour of the air force, intelligence collection and cyber-warfare. Conscripts are encouraged to extend their three-year terms.

Plodding ground forces increasingly feel like a burden, lawmakers say. Out will go some 4,500 officers, an artillery brigade wielding howitzers and hundreds of ageing Merkava and M60 tanks, some as old as the Vietnam war. In will come the new training ground in the Negev desert. It resembles a high-tech park, fit for an age when a technician in Tel Aviv can attack a target in Teheran. “The current and future battlefields are totally different from what we knew in the past,” writes Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister, fittingly, on his Facebook page.

One of the reasons behind Israel’s new order of battle is the Arab spring. The armies in the largest neighbouring countries no longer represent the conventional threat they once did. Egypt’s is too busy with domestic politics and Syria’s has ceased to exist as a coherent force. “We’re surrounded by failed states,” declares a minister. Syria and Iraq are “to a great extent” out of commission, an officer echoes. The gap in technical capabilities widens every year. Arab armies cannot keep up.

To be sure, Israel still has lots of mortal enemies. Hizbullah, the Lebanese party-cum-militia, controls tens of thousands of missiles. Extremist groups in Sinai, Gaza and Syria loathe the country and so does Iran, which sponsors some of them.

Yet, these outfits do not present traditional threats. Tanks are useless against Iran’s nuclear programme or a band of jihadists. Air force commanders praise rapid-reaction units that make use of fighter jets, drones, intelligence and cyber-warfare. They stress that operations using such forces cause fewer casualties and thus reduce the risk that a conflict will escalate. A series of Israeli strikes in Syria and Sudan on missiles apparently bound for Hizbullah and Hamas have resulted in no tangible fallout so far. They have also spared Israel the international condemnation that ground invasions tend to ignite.

Arabs can't blame America for all the world's problems

Hussein Ibish
Aug 11, 2013 

Anti-Americanism, a ubiquitous feature of contemporary Arab political culture, arises from an insidious and deeply- ingrained concept: the myth of American omnipotence.

Thus the will of the United States becomes the default explanation for everything that happens in the Middle East, particularly when people don't like it.

America the omnipotent occupies a unique position in the moral economy of contemporary Arab political thought: it is always blamed for whatever people don't like, but rarely gets credit for anything that most in the Arab world find good.

Recent events in Egypt are only the most striking and current demonstrations of this very long-standing pattern.

Supporters of the former Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, are convinced that the United States was directly responsible for his removal from office.

But his opponents believe, perhaps even more strongly, that Washington had put Mr Morsi into power and wanted to keep him there.

The Egyptian media has been full of the most bizarre theories, from both sides, about various supposed conspiracies hatched by US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson.

Virtually the only thing Egyptians now agree upon is that whatever it is they don't like, it must be the fault of the United States.

The same kind of assumptions apply in Syria. Last year I took part in a televised debate, on an Arabic TV outlet, along with three Syrians.

The first, a Salafist, argued that the Americans wanted to keep the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, in power, and that this was at the behest of Israel, because the Israelis feared the "Islamic Awakening".

The second, a nationalist, agreed that the US did indeed want Mr Al Assad to stay in power, but for a different reason: because he had cooperative relations with Israel.

The third Syrian participant in the broadcast, a regime stooge, insisted on the contrary that there was an American plot to overthrow Mr. Al Assad, because he was the leader of "resistance" against Israel.

But how did it happen that the United States has become this "great Satan" that is said to deserve, and that gets, the blame for all bad things?

Like western Islamophobia, the pervasive anti-Americanism we see has been fuelled by centuries of rivalry between Muslims and the Christian West. Arabs feel, and for good reason, that they have in many ways been mistreated by the colonialist powers.

Further, decades of nationalistic, religious, xenophobic and chauvinistic propaganda have entrenched anti-American narratives. After all, since the 1950s, the US has been the primary regional power in the Middle East and has acted like it, with all the regional resentment that naturally follows.

But the underlying, latent theme actually seems to be a profound sense of unrequited love.