17 August 2013

*** Obama's "I'm Not George W. Bush" Foreign Policy

August 16, 2013 

On the face of it, President Barack Obama's foreign policy is not at all terrible. He ended U.S. military involvement in Iraq. He is severely reducing U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. He kept U.S. involvement in Libya to a reasonable minimum, and has not gotten drawn into the infernally complex civil war in Syria. Meanwhile, his secretary of state, John Kerry, is engaged in the first serious attempt at achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace in 13 years, even while Obama has kept his trigger-finger calm on Iran, thus positioning the United States for some sort of rapprochement with Tehran in the event that the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is serious about improving relations. Moreover, given the humanitarian impulses of his new national security adviser and U.N. ambassador, Obama can now more easily talk like an idealist while practicing realism: the combination that usually works in foreign affairs.

Helping Obama is the fact that the Republican Party presently offers no serious alternative. The GOP appears torn between isolationists and neoconservatives. Isolationism is simply not a viable viewpoint in an age of globalization when geopolitics requires a sustained engagement with the world. Neoconservatism, meanwhile -- a combination of nationalism and extreme Wilsonianism -- has a tendency to see military force as a first resort, rather than as a last resort. And it is as a last resort with which most Americans are comfortable. Republicans were politically strongest when their foreign policy emanated a unified, pragmatic internationalism. That is not the case at the moment.

So with Obama's foreign policy not at all terrible, and with the Republicans not wholly serious, why is there such dissatisfaction with the administration's approach to the world? True, the media is never satisfied and the 24/7 news cycle means any administration is now always on the defensive, no matter what it does. But that does not quite account for the realization among many serious, bipartisan people in Washington that Obama's record is -- at least so far -- forgettable.

There is simply not the excitement that accompanied the diplomatic forays of Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke. There is not the sense of profound deftness in reaction to momentous geopolitical events that accompanied the performance of the elder Bush's administration; nor is there is the dramatic sense of purpose that accompanied so much of President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy. Indeed, Kissinger, Holbrooke, and the secretaries of state of both Reagan and the elder Bush were often so adroit at talking to the media that they practically wrote their lead paragraphs for them. That is not the case with the Obama team.

The media shapes not only public opinion but also elite opinion. And with past administrations there was, at the very least, the media intuition that something was happening in foreign policy; the current media intuition is that despite episodic news events that must be reported on, nothing is happening.

Nothing is happening because Obama has no grand geopolitical conception. He and his top officials are not great European-style improvisers like Kissinger. They don't have a plan for America, like Holbrooke had, to be a great moral force while promoting its geopolitical interests at the same time. They don't intend to upend a utopian ideology (communism) like Reagan did. And unlike the elder Bush team, they have no design for stabilizing the world once that ideology was, in fact, upended. (After all, jihadism and terrorism are disease germs like malaria, which can be suppressed but probably not wholly eliminated. This is a different order of threat from communism.) In sum, Obama offers only a negative: I am not George W. Bush. He started wars. I will end them, and avoid future ones. I will kill individual terrorists as they crop up. That's all, thank you.

You see the problem. It is not enough to communicate what you won't do; in foreign policy you have to provide a sense of mission, however nuanced or modest that mission may be. A mission or a conception provides direction. A direction, in turn, connects your actions in each geographical area of the world. With Obama nothing seems to be tied together.

Evolution of the Indian Submarine Arm

14 Aug , 2013

“Of all the branches of men in the forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners.” — Sir Winston S. Churchill

The development of the self propelled torpedo and the submerged diesel engine run by powerful storage batteries resulted in the creation of what modern navies call submarines. They let loose a trial of terror and destruction in both the World Wars. The submarines came into limelight during the earlier years of this century and gained considerable notoriety by wreaking havoc upon Allied merchant and naval shipping during World War I.

The evolution of the significance of submarines led to the belief, “there are only two kinds of naval vessels – submarines, and targets.” The submarine is a formidable weapon system and without a submarine no navy in this world can be considered complete. The Second World War witnessed the reaffirmation of the submarine’s role as an offensive force at sea. During the Second World War the battleships were replaced by the aircraft carriers as ‘queen of the seas’1 due to their ability to support a fleet and aircraft operations, far ashore. The second half of the twentieth century has witnessed nations clamoring for submarines in addition to traditional battleships. By 2000, the traditional diesel submarines had lost its presence by the massive introduction of the nuclear submarines.

The Indian Navy and Submarines

Pre World War II, the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) had a very limited role as a defence force and was restricted to coastal defence only. During the Second World War, the British expanded the RIN and changed its role from a coastal defence force with an offensive role. During the period 1939-1945, RIN underwent a phenomenal expansion. Still, the proposal to acquire a submarine for the Indian Navy was discouraged by the British naval officers who were then still in commanding positions in the Indian Navy , on the grounds that the sophisticated technology and the skills required to operate submarines were beyond the capability of the Indians2.

When India attained independence, its officers and men who had seen the havoc caused by submarines in the North Atlantic, first hand, pressed for the creation of a submarine arm. But it took several years before the plunge was taken. In post independence period the political leaders never felt the importance of the development of Navy; in other words, they never expect any threat from sea. India could never think of a belligerent neighbour except Pakistan which did not have any developed Navy as well.

India’s Growing Military Diplomacy

By Nitin A. Gokhale 
August 16, 2013

As part of its Look East policy, India has been boosting military ties throughout East Asia.

For years the Indian security establishment has been excessively obsessed with Pakistan and the proxy war it has waged against India. Over the past half a dozen years, the focus has gradually shifted to meeting the rising challenge posed by China’s rising military capabilities in Tibet.

Apart from two new army divisions now deployed in the country’s north-east after they were sanctioned in 2009, the Indian Cabinet has also a fortnight ago cleared a new mountain strike corps specifically meant for offensive operations against China. The new formation, which is likely to cost well over $10 billion, will take at least seven years to be fully functional according to current assessments. Given the long and drawn out border dispute with China, Indian policymakers have naturally tended to think “continentally” and looked at countering China on land.

That may however be changing too. As part of its two decade-old Look East policy, India has substantially stepped up engagement with East Asian and ASEAN nations. Last December, during an India-ASEAN Commemorative summit, the relationship was elevated to a strategic partnership.

As Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared in Phnom Penh in November 2012: “India and ASEAN should not only work for shared prosperity and closer links between our peoples, but also to promote peace, security and stability in the region. I am happy to note our growing engagement in areas such as defence, maritime security and counter-terrorism.”

Although never explicitly stated, ASEAN and East Asian nations want New Delhi to be a counterweight to increasing Chinese footprints in the region. Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and, particularly, Vietnam and Myanmar have time and again pressed India to help them both in terms of military training and weapons supply.

Myanmar’s Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Thura Thet Swe during his four-day visit to India in late July held wide-ranging consultations with top officials from the Indian Ministry of Defence. Apart from increasing the number of training slots of Myanmarese officers in Indian military training establishments, India has agreed to build at least four Offshore Patrol Vehicles (OPV) in Indian Shipyards to be used by Myanmar’s navy.

Loss of INS Sindhurakshak: Repercussions on Security


The loss of Kilo class submarine INS Sindhurakshak (Sea Protector) due to an onboard explosion and the partial damage to another submarine due to resultant fire has reduced India’s Kilo Class submarine fleet to nine. Manufactured by Russia and commissioned on 24 Dec 1997, the submarine underwent a two-year refit and up gradation at the Zvezdochka shipyard and returned to India on 29 April this year. The upgrade fitted the submarine with the latest weapon systems and extended its life by 10 years. INS Sindhurakshak had a displacement of 3,000 tonnes, a top speed of 18 knots and was capable of operating solo for 45 days with a crew of 53. This was the second accident on INS Sindhurakshak, which led to the total loss of the submarine and the even more tragic loss of 18 precious lives. The earlier accident had taken place on 26 February 2010 due to a faulty battery leading to death of one sailor and injuries to two others. Soon after, the submarine had gone to Russia for extensive refits. The kilo class submarines have diesel electric propulsion and the charging of batteries is of utmost importance before heading off to sea. The cause of the explosion is not known, though sabotage as a cause has been ruled out. Some reports however suggest that the explosion in the submarine was possibly caused due to accidental detonation in the torpedo bay due to the accumulation of hydrogen gas in the battery compartment. As the battery compartment is located just below the weapon bay, the damage has been extensive. A Board of Inquiry has been constituted to look into tragic incident which will give its report in a month. Hopefully, the cause will be identified to prevent recurrence of such accidents in future.

The Sindhurakshak was part of the Sindhughosh class, the premier kilo class submarines operated by the Indian Navy. Eight out of the ten Sindhughosh class submarines have been upgraded with latest weaponry, sonars and electronic warfare systems to make them fit to serve for another ten to fifteen years. As part of operation tasking, the upgraded submarines are required to patrol in designated areas of the ocean, escort own assault warships and engage enemy submarines and surface targets. Fitted with the latest Club-S multi-role missile system, Sindhurakshak was capable of engaging targets at a distance of over 250 km. Hence, the complete loss of one submarine and partial damage to another will undermine Indian Navy’s efforts to that extent. It must also be noted that some older class of submarines like Russian Kilo class and German HDW Type 209 are planned to be phased out next year as per a report published in Hindustan Times. The Navy currently has 14 submarines in service though the viable available strength would be much less after taking into account the operational availability. In contrast, China has about 45 submarines and Pakistan has nine. With reduction of the available operational submarines, the Indian submarine arm will be reduced to the size of Pakistan’s submarine fleet. For the next few years then, the edge enjoyed by the Indian Navy in underwater capabilities with respect to Pakistan stands significantly reduced.

The Indian Navy however has on order, six Scorpene class submarines (Diesel Electric Submarines from France) and two Akula class submarines (Nuclear powered submarines from Russia). The first Scorpene class submarine is likely to be inducted in 2016 and will coincide with addition of the aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov. The indigenous nuclear powered submarine, INS Arihant is presently in trial stages and is a few years away from an operational deployment. In the meantime, China is planning to add 15-16 new submarines in its fleet. The loss of Sindhurakshak is hence a huge setback for India in the short term. It will take about a decade to have a potent deterrent submarine arm in place.

Indian Rupee Hits Record Low Against US Dollar

By J. T. Quigley
August 16, 2013 

India’s rupee fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar earlier today, with analysts blaming increased government restrictions on currency leaving the country – a move that the Indian central bank had hoped would prop up the ailing economy. Instead, the ramped-up measures to keep capital inside India have led foreign investors to pull money out of Indian shares.

The rupee slipped to 62 against the dollar during trading earlier today, breaking the previous low of 61.8 that occurred on August 6. According to Channel NewsAsia, overseas investors have rushed to withdraw nearly $11.6 billion in equities and debt since June 1, over fears of a weakening Indian economy.

“The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) late on Wednesday reduced the maximum amount of outward direct investment by companies and individuals to a quarter of its previous level, putting the cap at 100 per cent of the Indian investor’s net worth,” reported The Financial Times.

The RBI recently implemented several other economic policies in an attempt to support the struggling rupee. Customs duties for gold were increased alongside interest rates hikes for short-term borrowing.

"There is a complete lack of faith in the markets. There are fears that the RBI measures may not help improve the rupee," said NSP Forex chief executive Param Sarma, according to BBC.

The Financial Times added: “Analysts consider the new capital controls a temporary salve that will not solve the country’s balance of payments problem.”

Overall, the Indian economy – Asia’s third largest – has been growing rapidly. But annual growth is experiencing a troubling decline as the country’s manufacturing and service sectors slow production.

India relies heavily on imported food, chemicals, and oil – each of which is priced in U.S. dollars. A weak rupee makes all of these essential imports more expensive for Indian businesses and, in turn, consumers.

Last month, India’s Wholesale Price Index – the country’s main indicator of inflation – was up 5.79 percent from 2012. The rupee has depreciated 13.2 percent against the dollar so far this year.

Capital controls in India

Fight the flight

Aug 16th 2013

YESTERDAY we blogged about India’s worrying imposition of new capital controls, announced on the evening of August 14th to stop cash flowing out of the country and stem the decline of the rupee. I’ve just had a briefing from local officials about the policy. The local media has been uncharacteristically quiet about the measures, but foreign investors and well-off Indians should be watching closely. Our colleagues at the Financial Times are. They published a well-judged leader in today’s paper.

India’s financial markets had have had another tough day. The main equity index fell 4% on Friday, August 16th, making it the worst-performing big bourse worldwide. The rupee reached a new low of 61.7 to the dollar. Indian money market rates leapt again, indicating stress in the system. And the Indian banks most reliant on wholesale funding got clobbered. Yes Bank’s stock price sank by more than 10% during the day. It has halved since May.

To recap, on the 14th the central bank clamped down on Indians’ ability to take money out of the country in two ways. The limit on personal remittances has been cut to $75,000 per year, from $200,000 per year. And companies are now barred from spending more than their own book value on direct investments abroad, unless they have specific approval from the central bank. Previously they could spend up to four times their own net worth. Both changes reverse the gradual liberalisation of India’s balance of payments over the last decade.

The restriction on personal outflows is, apparently, to deal with incipient signs of capital flight by India’s rich. Brokers, bankers and assorted hustlers, mainly based offshore, have been rushing to offer wealthy Indians cash extraction services. Marketing emails from them have been circulating widely. The pitch is primitive: take your dough out now, convert it into a hard currency, wait for the rupee to fall to 70 against the dollar, then bring it back into the country and convert it back to rupees at the more favourable rate. Outbound personal remittances by Indians have been small historically—perhaps $1bn a year, a drop in the ocean given India’s current-account deficit of $70-80 billion. But the Indian authorities’ aim is to crack down on these schemes before they cause a much bigger speculative outflow and a self-fulfilling panic.

The second measure, the prevention of firms investing much abroad, is more nuanced. Such outflows are already a significant drain on the balance of payments. In the year to March 2013 gross outbound direct investments by Indian firms were $13 billion (some Indian firms sold foreign assets and brought the money home, so the net figure was lower, at $7 billion). Under the new system most firms will need official permission for deals. The aim, apparently, is not to restrict “legitimate” activity, whatever that means, but to put “grit into the wheels”. The new red tape involved will slow down the pace at which deals happen and probably lead some firms to postpone their plans, thus lowering short term demand for dollars. Probably, the authorities want to do some intimidation too. Any dodgy companies that were hoping to speculate on the rupee, for example by doing takeovers of specially created cash-rich shell companies abroad, will now think twice.

An Odd Iran -India Confrontation


Oil spill and arrest or bold international governmental hijacking?

Maritime Bulletin reports that India accused Iran of hijacking Indian suezmax tanker Desh Shanti, but there might be more to the story: 

Indian crude oil tanker Desh Shanti was reported on Aug 6 13 dumping oil into the sea near Iran waters.

On August 15 the story got a new twist, developing into an international scandal.

India accused Iran in actually, hijacking Indian suezmax tanker under a pretext of oil pollution. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) detained Desh Shanti in international waters and according to The Times of India, is escorting tanker to Bandar Abbas.

Desh Shanti ( shipspotting.com)
As of 01:30 UTC Aug 15 vessel according to AIS, was sailing in Persian Gulf towards Hormuz Strait, off Iran inner waters, abeam of Bandar-e Kangan, Iran, some 300 nautical miles to go to Bandar Abbas. Initially, tanker loaded with Iraq crude oil was en route from Iraq to India.
Indian authorities claim arrest is some kind of political gesture to express Iranian dissatisfaction with Indian recent cut in import of Iranian oil, as a fallout of sanctions imposed by the US and the EU.Times of India report here

For India, it is not far-fetched to draw the conclusion that Tehran is peeved with India's rising crude imports from Iraq and that the seizure of the ship may be a way of showing its displeasure. But this doesn't just have consequences for India-Iran ties but also internationally, as it will raise questions about what Tehran intends to do in the Persian Gulf where it has even threatened use of force in the past to show its influence in the oil trade.A news report from 6 Aug 13 on allegations the ship was "dumping" oil here

Bahrain is on “high alert” following an oil spill in the Arabian Gulf, also called the Persian Gulf, which authorities say was deliberately caused by an Indian ship.

Pak planning Kargil dobaara?

By Rahul Datta / Mohit Kandhari 
 17 August 2013

Pakistan has stepped up tension all along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir and carried out more ceasefire violations by targeting Indian positions in Drass and Kargil for the first time since the Kargil War in 1999. 

Located in Ladakh region of the State, Sandro post in Drass came under heavy fire from Pakistan on Thursday. Similarly, Pakistani forces used small weapons and machine guns to attack a forward post in Kargil two days ago. In both cases, the Indian Army gave a swift and strong response. This region had not witnessed any ceasefire violation for the last 14 years after the Kargil War.Other sectors along the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir divisions also reported repeated firing by Pakistan.

Pakistani firing was so far confined to Poonch and Rajouri sectors but the last few days saw exchange of fire between India and Pakistan in almost all sectors of the LoC including Uri and Naugam in north Kashmir. The International Border near Samba in Jammu also saw Pakistan shelling Border Security Force (BSF) posts. In all, 17 ceasefire violations by Pakistan have taken place since its commandoes killed five Indian soldiers in a cross-border raid in Poonch on August 6.

Explaining the reason for the spurt in heavy firing and ceasefire violations, officials said on Friday that Pakistan was targeting areas in Kashmir Valley and Kargil as the Indian Army had taken strong retaliatory measures in Poonch and Rajouri after its soldiers were killed on August 6. Given a free hand by the Government to deal with the situation, the Army is now using heavy automatic weapons, light and medium machine guns, besides mortars against Pakistani posts. Lt-Gen DS Hooda, GOC 16 Corps said the Indian troops are responding strongly and sending a tough message across the LoC.

Interacting with the media on the sidelines of a function in Jammu on Friday evening Lt-Gen Hooda told reporters: “The Indian Army is responding strongly along the LoC and not allowing anyone to disturb the counter-infiltration grid. We are also trying to keep the heads of the enemy soldiers down so that they cannot target the civilian population in forward areas.”

Moreover, intense firing is directed against Pakistani posts in Jandrot and Nikial located across the LoC in Poonch and Mendhar. The Army is targeting 650 and 658 Mujahid battalions of Pakistan in these two sectors besides firing on 655 Mujahid battalion posts across the LoC in Rajouri, they said.Elaborating on the situation on the International Border, officials said the headquarters of BSF in Jammu have received Intelligence reports of gradual mobilisation of troops on the other side of the border in Sialkot sector.

They said: “Intelligence reports are yet to be corroborated on ground zero but we cannot completely rule out the possibility, as tensions are building up due to continuous ceasefire violations even along the International Border. We have also received reports that the Pakistani troops are fortifying their defences along the International Border.” Last month, on July 26, the BSF had raised the issue with Pakistan during the commander-level flag meeting in RS Pura sector after it detected that Pakistan Rangers were building

Politics Clouds Progress on India-Pakistan Tensions

By Danielle Rajendram
August 16, 2013

India and Pakistan have entered their 67th year of statehood this week, with celebrations marred by heightened tensions along the Line of Control in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. It has become increasingly clear that time does not heal all wounds, and in India, relations with Pakistan have been reduced to a domestic political plaything with little regard for the serious international consequences that may follow.

Friction began last week, with the killing of five Indian soldiers on Tuesday in the Poonch district. The situation has since escalated, with both India and Pakistan accusing each other of violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement

Given that India and Pakistan have fought two wars over their competing sovereignty claims in Kashmir, the international community has been particularly alarmed by these developments. While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh were quick to reaffirm their commitment to peace, both the Pakistani and Indian Parliaments have passed resolutions condemning each other’s actions along the Line of Control

In the lead up to general elections in 2014, the incident has become fair game for Indian politicians of all stripes, and social media is serving to accelerate the pace of attacks. For the Hindu nationalist BJP, the situation in Kashmir has presented an opportunity to reinforce the perception of the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh as weak and ineffective on national security.

Narendra Modi, widely touted to be the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, was quick off the mark, tweeting that “from China’s intrusions to Pakistan’s ambushes – the UPA Government has been absolutely lax in securing Indian borders. When will the Centre wake up?”

The official statement of Defence Minister A K Antony about the incident also came under fire from the opposition. The statement, which attributed the ambush to “20 heavily armed terrorists with persons dressed in Pakistani army uniforms,” caused so much chaos in Indian parliament that the session swiftly had to be adjourned.

The BJP argued that the cautious wording of Antony’s statement handed Pakistan the opportunity to deny its role in the attack by shifting the blame to non-state actors, and went as far as to demand that Antony make a formal apology to the country over his remarks. Remarkably, under intense political pressure, Antony retracted his statement and issued a correction which instead pinned the blame on specialist troops of the Pakistan Army.

Analysis: Are India and Pakistan headed for war?

Under heavy shelling, Kashmir is again set to stymie the Indo-Pak peace process. And the risks are mounting.

Violent border clashes between India and Pakistan in Kashmir are growing. Is it the sign of something larger? (Rouf Bhat/AFP/Getty Images)
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NEW DELHI, India — Five Indian soldiers and one Pakistani civilian lie dead, victims of skirmishes on the disputed Kashmir border.

But the real target of the violence may well be Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as Pakistan's military and intelligence services try to thwart the newly elected leader's aspirations for peace with India.

“The intention here is to sabotage the peace process,” said Michael Kugelman, an expert on South Asia affiliated with the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“This is a sad reality of India-Pakistan relations — whenever things are looking up, a saboteur tries to send all progress up in smoke.”

The region has been on the boil since the five Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush in the Poonch sector of India-administered Kashmir last week. India said Pakistani soldiers were to blame, and Pakistan disavowed the attack.

The incident prompted a series of cross-border skirmishes that each country has accused the other of starting. It has all-but scuttled hopes that Sharif and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, will be able to resume peace negotiations anytime soon.

The so-called composite dialogue dates back to January 2004. It was called off following the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, which India believes were perpetrated with the aid of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Until this week, the formal talks had been set to resume this month. Now even an informal meeting between Singh and Sharif on the sidelines of the September UN General Assembly is at risk.

The situation is scary, experts say. Kashmir — a divided territory that both India and Pakistan claim as their own — was the cause of two of the three wars the two countries have fought since they attained independence from Britain in 1947. Now both New Delhi and Islamabad control numerous nukes; Pakistan has the world’s fastest growing arsenal.

As the tit-for-tat bombardment continues, the shelling already marks the heaviest exchange since the ceasefire began in 2003, raising fears that the repeated violations will result in a complete breakdown of the truce. Signaling their concern about further escalation, both Washington and the UN have appealed for calm.

But which side is responsible for starting the fire? What is the endgame? And how far will the flames spread before cooler heads prevail?

*** Pakistan Policy reduced to a Single Binary

August 14, 2013

More than anything else, the latest flare-up along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir has exposed the absence of any sort of strategic clarity at the political level and sheer lack of options at the diplomatic level on how India should deal with Pakistan. At one level, India’s Pakistan policy appears to have been reduced into a bird-brained debate on ornithology in which doves, hawks (even chicken-hawks, a new specie that has been recently introduced) and owls (those who advocate eternal vigilance) occupy the pride of place. But at a more fundamental level, it seems that India’s entire policy on Pakistan has shrunk into a single binary: to talk or not to talk. For a country like India with aspirations, if not delusions, of playing a major role on the world stage, to have degraded its capabilities to a point where it has only a single instrument, leverage and option on how to deal with a troublesome neighbour points to a serious deficiency of strategic thinking and culture.

Clearly, over the last 67 years, India has failed to evolve a clear, cogent, cold-hearted policy on Pakistan. Merely declaring that a stable and prosperous Pakistan (some statements even claim a ‘strong’ Pakistan) is in India’s interest is at best a statement of desire, not a policy. If it was policy, then the next logical question would be what has India done to achieve this policy. The simple fact is that India just hasn’t made up its mind on what it wants from and out of Pakistan. India doesn’t know whether it even wants a Pakistan in its present shape, form and structure. This glaring lack of clarity on what India wants on its Western border is precisely the reason why India has only an ad hoc, tactical approach towards Pakistan in which talks or dialogue has become the single and sole instrument in India’s arsenal on dealing with Pakistan.

In the process, India has neglected building other leverages that could be used to nudge, influence and even push Pakistan into compliance. These include: Economic – not only in terms of bilateral trade and investment but also in terms of influencing Pakistan’s export, import and currency markets; Political – building linkages with political parties and politicians and other influential sections of society to have a pro-India lobby inside Pakistan and also use the civil-military cleavage to its advantage; Diplomatic – using India’s economic and military clout within the international community to develop the necessary pressure on Pakistan; Military – raising the force differential to a point where Pakistan would be overwhelmed at the very sight of the Indian forces that even the thought of adventurism or asymmetric war would not be entertained; Religious – using the Islamic theological schools in India to influence the religious discourse inside Pakistan; and Cultural – soft-power of ‘Bollywood’, music industry, and other such institutions. This is by no means an exhaustive list but is only a pointer to some of the areas in which strategizing by India could have resulted in menu of options that could be used to turn the screws on Pakistan in a calibrated manner and not the knee-jerk way that is currently in vogue.

Regrettably, not only has India failed to build these leverages, it has also frittered away whatever little benefit or advantage it could squeeze out of the single instrument it is left with – talks – by appearing to be a little too keen engage Pakistan. As a result, the talks or the dialogue has become an end in itself and to that extent has become simply a tactic for engagement rather than an instrument for achieving something tangible. It can of course be argued that it doesn’t hurt India to keep Pakistan engaged in a purposeless dialogue. But given that this is the only instrument with India, there is a case for it to used in a way that even if the process is desultory, the commencement of the process results in something substantial. For instance, the resumption of the Composite Dialogue process in 2004 yielded a commitment from Pakistan to not allow the use of its territory or any territory under its control against India.

The Bleak Lives of Pakistan’s Internally Displaced

By Kiran Nazish
August 16, 2013

Jalozai, Peshawar:

“I want to go back home,” says a little girl named Amna, who has spent most of her life here in the IDP (internally displaced persons) Camp in Jalozai. Amna is six and a half years old and her family moved here four years ago, escaping military operations against terrorists in the Khyber Agency tribal area of Pakistan.

She doesn’t remember her village in Khyber, or any of those children or games that her elder siblings talk about all the time. But she has a fantasy of how things would be if she goes back home. Her idea of home is constructed by the stories and life that her older siblings and parents have shared with her.

She picks up two water buckets and starts walking, chuckling, spilling water on her way to her home where she now lives. It’s a tattered dusty tent with stitches here and there, reminding of the rain that tore the cloth tent in winter, seeping chilly wind inside. Amna shudders at the memory of the last winter. “We don’t have clothes that are warm enough,” she says. “And donations with sweaters or warm clothes have stopped coming in so we did not have enough to fight the monstrous cold this past winter.”

When the IDPs moved in here four years ago, there was an enthusiastic outpouring of donations, funding and supplies that came from across the country. From food to clothing and house utensils, the IDP community received significant help, but it then dwindled and gradually disappeared.

Amna works a few hours every day delivering water to different families in her camp neighborhood to make some money for her mother’s medicine. They have to go to a private hospital since the government facilities at the Jalozai camp are scarce and doctors are almost never available. Amna has vowed to bring more money to their family of seven, along with her other elder siblings – all of whom work. “Maybe if we have more money, we will one day go back and rebuild our home (in Khyber Agency).”

Propaganda, Not Policy: Explaining the PLA’s “Hawkish Faction” (Part 1)

Andrew Chubb, Jamestown Foundation
China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 15, July 25, 2013 

The Most Famous of Hawks, Luo Yuan

The regular appearance in the Chinese media of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) figures calling for aggressive foreign policy causes controversy and confusion among foreign observers. The most sensational remarks usually are made by academics at PLA institutions. Foreign media routinely pick up sensational quotes from these military officers—such as Major General Luo Yuan’s repeated suggestion for declaring the Diaoyu Islands a Chinese military target range or Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong’s recent call for a blockade of Philippine outposts in the Spratly Islands—and attribute them to senior military leaders, as their ranks seem to suggest (Beijing TV/Global Times Net [Huanqiu Wang], May 27;South China Morning Post, March 3; Tea Leaf Nation, February 25). Operational commanders, however, seldom comment in public on policy issues. Prominent foreign policy analyst Wang Jisi has publicly complained about “reckless statements, made with no official authorization” which had “created a great deal of confusion” (Asian Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2012). In April, recently-retired deputy military region commander Wang Hongguang wrote military pundits had “misled the audience” and caused “interference with our high-level policy decision-making and deployments” (Global Times, April 20). This two-part series assesses who these outspoken PLA officers represent and the implications of their hawkish statements through an evaluation of their backgrounds, affiliations and statements on their work.

Debate about belligerent public remarks from military personnel often surrounds the extent to which they might represent the voice of hawkish PLA constituencies, pressuring the leadership to adopt more aggressive policies. Some analysts tend to dismiss such bluster as largely irrelevant on the basis that military media pundits have no operational military authority, despite their high rank. Others, however, emphasize how continued outspokenness by military figures presupposes high-level party or military support, and that they thus give voice to behind-the-scenes political struggles. A third view proposes that the hawks are the voice of the PLA as an institution, pushing the military’s policy preferences (“Hawks vs. Doves: Beijing Debates ‘Core Interests’ and Sino-U.S. Relations,” China Brief, August 19, 2010) [1]. Analysis of scattered biographical information on the most prominent hawkish PLA media commentators, plus comments regarding their own work, suggests each perspective is partially right. None is a general in a conventional military sense, yet they are far from irrelevant. Their backgrounds, affiliations and positions, however, indicate their role probably has more to do with the regime’s domestic and international propaganda work objectives than political debates. 

Luo Yuan

The most famous PLA “hawk” is retired Major General Luo Yuan. His biography suggests he has operated, and continues to do so, in the areas of Taiwan affairs, intelligence and military propaganda. Son of intelligence czar Luo Qingchang, Luo Yuan joined the PLA in 1968 (Southern People Weekly,March 26). He often has stated that he fought on the front lines in Laos against the United States in the early 1970s, and his official biography states that he was a squadron (ban) and platoon (pai) leader (People’s Net [Renmin Wang], February 20, 2012). In 1978, he returned to Beijing to begin his academic career and entered the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), where he has been affiliated for the bulk of his career (Southern Weekend, April 9, 2012). He attained the rank of major general in 2006.

Propaganda as Policy? Explaining the PLA’s “Hawkish Faction” (Part Two)

Andrew Chubb, Jamestown Foundation
Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 16, Aug 9, 2013 

Professor Dai Xu

If outspoken Chinese military officers are, as Part One suggested, neither irrelevant loudmouths, nor factional warriors, nor yet the voice of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on foreign policy, and are instead experts in the PLA-party propaganda system, then what might explain the bad publicity they often generate for China? This article explores how the activities of China’s military hawks may contribute to the regime’s domestic and international goals. On a general level, the very appearance of a hawkish faction—the “opera” that Luo Yuan has described—serves the domestic purposes of promoting national unity (Global Times, May 4). By amplifying threat awareness and countering perceived Western plots to permeate the psyche of the Chinese populace and army, the “hawks” direct public dissatisfaction with the policy status quo away from the system as a whole. 

In specific crises, such as the standoff at Scarborough Shoal last year or in the wake of the Diaoyu Islands purchase, hard-line remarks from uniformed commentators serve to rally domestic public opinion behind the prospect of military action, instill confidence in the PLA’s willingness to fight over the issue and deter China’s adversary. By amplifying the possibility of otherwise irrational Chinese military action and inevitable escalation should Beijing’s actions be interfered with, they have contributed to a thus-far successful effort to convince the Philippines and Japan to accept the new status quo around Scarborough Shoal and the Diaoyu Islands. 

External Propaganda 

The PLA’s external­­ (duiwai) propaganda work system, which Part One showed most of the “hawks” belong to, has been greatly strengthened in recent years in line with an often-cited “series of important instructions” from Hu Jintao from 2006 onward. This effort has emphasized self-affirming aspects of propaganda—perhaps better translated as publicity and promotion—with particular regard to foreign audiences, aiming to increase understanding of China’s policies, diminish “China threat theories” and shape a good international image for the PLA. The General Political Department (GPD) Propaganda Department’s External Propaganda Bureau was established in 2006 in response to a Xinhua report on the PLA’s image in overseas media. The Xinhua PLA Bureau’s year-long investigation reported in April 2006 that negative reports dominated Western public opinion on the PLA, with word associations of “security threat,” “closed,” “non-transparent” and “backward.” Aside from openness issues, a follow-up investigation led by then-GPD Director Li Jinai found that China’s media were used to using their own linguistic and thought conventions as well as domestic habits in external propaganda with less-than-ideal results (Xinhua, March 19, 2010). These themes, and the general emphasis on improving international perceptions of the PLA, have continued throughout the all-military external propaganda push. General Li also said military external propaganda work must “adhere tightly to foreign audiences’ needs for information on our military, adhere tightly to foreign audiences’ habits of thought” (Xinhua, November 15, 2010).

Recent writings on the topic emphasize activities including Ministry of Defense news conferences (not known for producing sensational statements), meet-the-press sessions, military open days (such as the recent event at a Xi’an air defense base), white papers, Chinese-foreign military cultural exchange and doing media interviews (Xinhua, August 2; PLA Daily, November 1, 2012; China Military Online, May 18, 2012; Southern Weekend, January 10, 2012) [1]. Yet, if military external propaganda activities are aimed solely at creating a positive image of the Chinese military among foreigners, why do specially-appointed “external propaganda experts” like Dai Xu and Luo Yuan make statements that generate negative publicity and stoke foreign perceptions of China as a military threat?

Why is China Dithering While Cairo Burns?

By Zachary Keck

August 16, 2013

Over the last day and a half, international attention has fixated on the Egyptian military’s bloody crackdown on supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. While the UN, EU, and Western and regional nations were quick to come forth with their own reactions to the events, Asia has remained relatively quiet.

This was certainly true of China, which said little for the first 24 hours or so of the crackdown. On Thursday afternoon, however, the Foreign Ministry released a terse statement:

“China follows closely the situation in Egypt and is deeply worried about the developments. China urges parties concerned in Egypt to bear in mind the interests of the country and people, exercise maximum restraint to avoid further casualties and dissolve differences through dialogue and consultation to restore order and social stability.”

This rather vague and ambiguous statement is typical of Chinese diplomacy. Yet it also reflects the reality that there are many “contradictions” in China’s views of the military crackdown in Egypt, and its broader interests in the Arab country more generally.

Perhaps more than anything, China’s views on the military crackdown itself is full of contradictions. On the one hand, China has little interest in criticizing Egypt given its long-standing policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states. Additionally, China does not want to come out too harshly against a military crackdown given the ever-looming possibility that it may one day have to (again) deploy the People’s Armed Police and/or Liberation Army to put down similar, large-scale unrest in China.

Indeed, as Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden point out on the China in Africa podcast this week, Chinese leaders in some sense almost welcome the unrest besetting Egypt. After all, the emergence of the Arab Spring initially prompted concern in Beijing that similar unrest could spread to China. The Communist Party can therefore portray the unrest, chaos, and violence that have engulfed Arab Spring countries like Libya, Syria and Egypt as vindicating its argument that an authoritative state is needed to maintain law and order in China.

These concerns about not criticizing a military crackdown appear to have won out given the Foreign Ministry’s statement about protecting the interests of the country and the people in that order. 

Still, China has other reasons to only offer only tepid support to the Egyptian military’s actions. First, as China has accumulated a greater share of world power, it has gradually sought a more active role on the world stage, and the Middle East proper. In this sense, it does not wish to be seen as an irresponsible world power by supporting a military crackdown, and it especially doesn’t wish to further alienate the Arab street given its immense, long-term interests in securing oil from Arab nations.

America Pivots to Asia; Europe Arms It

By Robbin F. Laird
August 16, 2013

European firms are providing their Asian customers with some core capabilities.

A neglected aspect of the analysis of the evolution of Asian defense and security is the contribution of the European defense industry. Major players in Europe (and in the United States) are seeking global markets to remain viable and to evolve over time. Defense and security is not a static business; it is highly competitive and modernization is always a key element of the equation. Global customers are a crucial element for U.S. or European defense firms to remain on the cutting edge and to be viable in challenging economic conditions.

European firms provide capabilities in many areas of interest to Asian customers, notably military aerospace, weapons and naval systems. The military aerospace and weapons part of this equation warrants particular note, as does the dynamics of change in the Asian market for these products. The point is simply this: European firms are providing core capabilities for Asian customers and are an important part of the military equation in region.

Perhaps governments will follow as well. Notably, last month the United Kingdom signed agreements with Japan creating a legal framework for defense and security cooperation between their two countries. focusing on defense and security issues.

During the signing of the agreements, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Japan is a key ally of the U.K. and we work closely together on many issues of global foreign and security policy. This is a groundbreaking agreement, which will enable joint research, development and production of defense equipment.”

This agreement in particular is significant, as it makes the U.K. the first country in the world to sign such a comprehensive agreement with Japan to jointly participate in these activities. The U.K. government also mentioned that the first collaboration project between the U.K. and Japan will involve chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protection, while future projects will involve other industries.

This agreement underscores the largely overlooked fact that the European defense industry plays a growing role in Asian defense and security. A number of changes in the Asian defense market are driving this greater cooperation. 

First, the larger Asian customers clearly wish to expand their ability to produce their “own” equipment. What this means is that industrial partnerships between European and Asian firms are a key part of the growing European presence and that the “re-export” of European systems from Asia will be reality for the global arms market in the 21st century.

Second, there is clear concern about the security of supply on the part of Asians, notably with regard to the need to surge to support operations that might be controversial in other parts of the world. There is concern among some Asian nations that the U.S. and Europe would seek to use their status as defense providers to veto military actions they did not agree with.

To avoid this kind of veto power, Asian nations are looking to diverse their suppliers and reduce their dependence on oversea supply chains. It is crucial to have supplies in place if conflict comes to provide for operational flexibility. Europe is seen as enhancing this flexibility.

Mubarak Still Rules

BY STEVEN A. COOK | AUGUST 14, 2013
The bodies pile up in Cairo, but nothing has changed.

My friend, the late Hassan El Sawaf, was correct. When I spoke to him on the evening of February 11, 2011, he was exuberant. After years of a lonely and personal struggle against Hosni Mubarak's rule, the dictator was suddenly gone. A new era had begun. The prospects for democracy had never seemed so bright.

Freedom cast Hassan in a new light: unburdened with the weight of Egypt, my normally serious and at times dour friend let himself laugh. Yet within 36 hours of Mubarak's flight to Sharm el-Sheikh, Hassan's mood had darkened with sudden disillusion. He distributed one of his many commentaries to a long list of friends and followers that read in part, "I believe a big conspiracy is being perpetrated against the people of Egypt.... [Egyptians] are convinced the interim government will really keep its promises and steer them peacefully to the democracy everyone so valiantly fought for. Egypt will remain a military dictatorship indefinitely. How I wish I am wrong."

Back in those heady days, it was easy to discount Hassan's missive as revolutionary hangover. This was the fear instilled in someone with an intuitive understanding of the cynicism of Egyptian politics. Yet if there is any question of Hassan's prescience, today's attack on the pro-Morsy sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque should put that to rest. Egypt is as far away from the revolutionary promise of Tahrir Square as it was in November 2010 when Mubarak staged perhaps the most fraudulent parliamentary election since they began in the late 1970s.

Today the "revolution" that really never was, is over. Egyptians will go to sleep tonight under a curfew and wake tomorrow under the hated Emergency Law that places the country under military rule. The government claims the measure is temporary -- only for a month -- but given Egypt's current circumstances that is not likely to be the case. Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy have stepped up their mindless campaign against Egyptian Copts and the violent repression of the opposition sit-ins will likely lead to even more radicalization. How long before the Muslim Brotherhood seeks redress through the force of arms? Spokesmen for the interim government argue that they have extended a hand to the Brothers to join the transition, but that they rejected it. Of course they did.

Not only was it a good political strategy to stay in the streets and discredit a political process born of a coup, but clearly, if the Brotherhood understood anything, they knew that the post-July 3 calls for "inclusion" in an interim government were not serious. They themselves had made similar insincere appeals for dialogue and inclusion of their opponents all the while working to institutionalize the Brotherhood's power in a new political system. This is why they rammed through a contested draft constitution last December and the Brotherhood-dominated Shura Council attempted to write an electoral law that favored its aims. 

Just as Egypt's political system before the January 25 uprising was rigged in favor of Mubarak and his constituents, the Brothers sought to stack the new order in their favor, and today's winners will build a political system that reflects their interests. This is neither surprising nor sui generis. In the United States, rules, regulations, and laws are a function of the powerful, too. But in America, the capacity for change exists; whereas in Egypt, those institutions are absent. Although virtually all political actors have leveraged the language of political reform and espoused liberal ideas, they have nevertheless sought to wield power through exclusion. This has created an environment in which the losers do not process their grievances through elections, parliamentary debate, consensus-building, and compromise -- but through military intervention and street protests. This plays into the hands of those powerful groups embedded within the state who have worked to restore the old order almost from the time that Hosni Mubarak stepped down into ignominy two and a half years ago.

The roots of this desultory state of affairs are found in none other than Tahrir Square of January and February 2011. The elements of Egypt's tribulations were all there even as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators were thundering in unison "Dignity and freedom are the demands of all Egyptians!": The leaderless instigators who brooked no question nor critique; the soccer thugs who served as the shock troops of the revolution; a military seeking to preserve its position in the post-Mubarak order; groups advancing liberal ideas in the service of non-democratic agendas; and the callous, brazen sexual assaults.

The Business Habits of Highly Effective Terrorists

Why Terror Masterminds Rely on Micro-Management

August 14, 2013 

A still of Ayman al-Zawahiri from a video circulated in 2011 (Courtesy Reuters)


In addition to being a ruthless jihadist, Ayman al-Zawahiri long ago earned a reputation for being a terrible boss. When he took over al Qaeda in 2011, senior U.S. intelligence officials were already pointing out his penchant for micro-management. (In one instance in the 1990s, he reached out to operatives in Yemen to castigate them for buying a new fax machine when their old one was working just fine.) Reports that last week’s terror alert was triggered when Zawahiri reached out to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, his second-in-command and the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- a communication that Washington predictably managed to intercept -- only hardened the impression that he lacks the savvy to run a global terror organization. 

But few of Zawahiri’s many critics have paused to consider what the task of leading a terror organization actually entails. It is true that Zawahiri’s management style has made his organization vulnerable to foreign intelligence agencies and provoked disgruntlement among the terrorist rank and file, not to mention drawing last week’s drone strikes. But it is equally true that Zawahiri had few other options.

Given that terrorists are, by definition, engaged in criminal activity, you would think that they would place a premium on secrecy. But historically, many terrorist groups have been meticulous record keepers. Members of the Red Brigades, an Italian terrorist group active in the 1970s and early 1980s, report having spent more time accounting for their activities than actually training or preparing attacks. From 2005 through at least 2010, senior leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq kept spreadsheets detailing salary payments to hundreds of fighters, among many other forms of written records. And when the former military al Qaeda military commander Mohammed Atef had a dispute with Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, an explosives expert for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, in the 1990s, one of his complaints was that Umar failed to turn in his receipts for a trip he took with his family. 

Such bureaucracy makes terrorists vulnerable to their enemies. But terrorists do it anyway. In part, that is because large-scale terror plots and extended terror campaigns require so much coordination that they cannot be carried out without detailed communication among the relevant actors and written records to help leaders track what is going on. Gerry Bradley, a former terrorist with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, for example, describes in his memoir how he required his subordinates in Belfast in 1973 to provide daily reports on their proposed operations so that he could ensure that the activities of subunits did not conflict. Several leaders of the Kenyan Mau Mau insurgency report that, as their movement grew in the early 1950s, they needed to start maintaining written accounting records and fighter registries to monitor their finances and personnel.

Enough Is Enough

BY MARC LYNCH | AUGUST 14, 2013
It’s time for Washington to cut Egypt loose.

With blood in Egypt's streets and a return to a state of emergency, it's time for Washington to stop pretending. Its efforts to maintain its lines of communication with the Egyptian military, quietly mediate the crisis, and help lay the groundwork for some new, democratic political process have utterly failed. Egypt's new military regime, and a sizable and vocal portion of the Egyptian population, have made it very clear that they just want the United States to leave it alone. For once, Washington should give them their wish. As long as Egypt remains on its current path, the Obama administration should suspend all aid, keep the embassy in Cairo closed, and refrain from treating the military regime as a legitimate government.

These steps won't matter very much in the short term. Cairo has made it very clear that it doesn't care what Washington thinks and the Gulf states will happily replace whatever cash stops flowing from U.S. coffers. Anti-American incitement will continue, along with the state of emergency, violence and polarization, the stripping away of the fig leaf of civilian government, and the disaster brewing in the Sinai. It won't affect Secretary of State John Kerry's Israel-Palestine peace talks and the Camp David accords will be fine, too; Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi can't manage his own streets, and it's unlikely he wants to mess with Israel right now.

The hard truth is that the United States has no real influence to lose right now anyway, and immediate impact isn't the point. Taking a (much belated) stand is the only way for the United States to regain any credibility -- with Cairo, with the region, and with its own tattered democratic rhetoric.

It's easy to understand Washington's ambivalence in the immediate aftermath of the July 3 coup. Nobody ever had any illusions that the military seizing power, suspending the constitution, and imprisoning President Mohamed Morsy quacked, as John McCain rather regrettably put it, like a duck. At the same time, the seemingly robust public support for the coup, longstanding uneasiness about the Muslim Brotherhood, the appointment of well-regarded technocrats to high-level government positions, and strong Gulf Cooperation Coucil support for the new regime stayed the Obama administration's hand. It seemed prudent to many in Washington to wait and see how things would play out, especially given the intense arguments of those defending what they considered popular revolution. It didn't help that neither the United States nor other outside actors knew quite what they wanted. Few particularly wanted to go to the mat for the Muslim Brotherhood or a Morsy restoration, and Washington quickly understood that this was not in the cards. But they also didn't want a return to military rule.