20 August 2013

National Security after 66 years of Independence

By Col. R. Hariharan
19-Aug-2013

(This background note on the state of national security since independence was prepared for two TV interviews on August 15 and 16, 2013.)

Overview on national security since 1947

Indian armed forces were guardians of British colonial rule before independence. They have now distinguished themselves as the defenders of independent India by shedding their blood on more than one occasion. This has not been an easy process. It meant moving away from the Commander-in-Chief system of the British to Chiefs of staff for each of the three services. It also meant downgrading the status of Service Chiefs in the government hierarchy; C-in-C was next only to the Viceroy in Colonial India. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) is now on par with the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission. But the armed forces have reconciled to this realizing that elected government is supreme in a democracy. 

But this is having its impact on the decision making process on national security and management of strategic defence. We see the anachronism of Defence Secretary - a bureaucrat - leading a delegation of three chiefs for holding a strategic dialogue with China. Chiefs of armed forces who had access to the Prime Minister in Pandit Nehru’s times have access only to the Defence Minister. Security chiefs are merely on listening watch in the decision making process after they have had their say with the defence minister.

As a result, inability to take timely and informed decisions on vital matters affecting national security has become the hallmark of our strategic defence management. This has not only affected timely procurement of weapons and equipment but lead to corruption by vested interests of a wide variety including politics, business interests and bureaucracy.

Enormous delays are dogging the development of indigenous capacities for manufacture of warships, submarines, combat aircraft and even small arms and artillery guns because we continue to worship the holy cow called public sector abetted by private business and political interests. Grandiose plans take decades to make snail-like progress to see them through.

For instance the Defence Minister launched the first Indian built aircraft carrier three days back. This is no doubt a laudable achievement. But the proposal to build it was lying with the bureaucracy for over a decade, according to former Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash. The decision was taken only after it was decided to buy “Admiral Gorshkov”, the half built Soviet carrier. 

We are one of the three Asian powers boasting of nuclear capability which is a testimony to our defence research capability. Unlike Pakistan, in our country there are a lot of grey areas in the chain of command for decision for making on use and safeguarding of nuclear weapons during peace and war. Former service chiefs and K Subrahmanyam committee appointed in the wake of Kargil war have pointed this out. But so far the neither the nation nor its parliament has been taken into confidence by the government on this subject.

Despite all this we have creditable achievements. We have made big strides in developing our missile capability; we have just launched a nuclear submarine made in India and our shipyards are producing warships though at a slow pace. After sleeping for decades we seem to have woken up to the need for timely procurement and manufacture of state of the art weapons and systems.

POVERTY Vs GROWTH



Bhagwati, Sen and India’s fight against poverty

By V.S. Sambandan 
Aug 19, 2013

A roadside vendor in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, takes a break to have a quick lunch; the issue of eradicating poverty while ensuring economic growth remains a challenge for India.

V.S. Sambandan of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy critically assesses the implications of a recent debate, between distinguished economists Amartya Sen and Prof.Jagdish Bhagwati, that revisits issues of growth and equity, saying that to better understand, and gain, from the debate, it is essential to place it in the context of India’s fight against poverty and the performance of its social sector.

It’s been described as a war of words between India’s two internationally renowned economists: Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati. To the pessimist, it was a clamour to outsell books by the distinguished authors – not really an argument, but more of a cynical wag’s dismissive taunt. To the over-interpretative media, it was a proxy Rahul Gandhi Vs Narendra Modi for the real Congress Vs BJP clash of the political parties in the next Lok Sabha elections.

To economists it is a matter of much more significance as this relates to core policy-making in a developing economy that aims to reduce its stubborn poverty. The questions that arise are both economic and political. In the area of economics, the key ones are what economic tools does a state use to provide a boost to growth and reduce poverty, and what is the role of the state, specifically, in economic policy making that address social issues?

The debate has also strayed into the political discourse, with Bhagwati’s endorsement of the Gujarat model of development at a time when the world’s largest democracy heads to the polls, due by mid-2014. This gives rise to the important political question: is economic efficiency, even if borne out by official figures, an adequate enough measure of success to justify a political ideology?

Bhagwati contra Sen: an assessment

By S. Subramanian

It is a perfectly defensible intellectual position to turn one’s back on the Sen-Bhagwati dispute and have nothing to do with it. However, if one chose to assess the nature and significance of the difference, then I’m not sure that it is accurate to characterise the dispute as one in which there wasn’t, after all, and at the bottom, much of a difference in the positions of Bhagwati and Sen, and that, in the end, it was just a matter of relatively mildly differing emphases in their respective points of view.

To see what is involved, it is useful to ask what are the respective salient claims of Sen and Bhagwati that seem to have featured in the controversy involving the two economists and their respective supporters, and to ask also how exceptionable or otherwise these claims have been. On Sen’s side, it would appear that the following claims have been important aspects of his perspective on India’s development: (a) that ‘fetishising’ growth for its own sake is unproductive; (b) that enhancing human capabilities, especially in the matter of improving people’s status with respect to poverty, inequality, health and education continues to be a priority item on India’s development agenda; (c) that the state has an active interventionist role to play in securing these aspects of human capability for its citizens; (d) that Kerala, Sri Lanka, Cuba and Costa Rica are examples of important sites in which public action, rather than growth in per capita income as such, has played an important role in human development; (e) that nutrition, education and health are vital inputs into the growth process, and wide-spread country evidence suggests this rather than that one has to wait for growth to happen before one can think of improving peoples’ standard of living; and (f) that democracy is important, both intrinsically and instrumentally, for human development.

I find it difficult to quarrel with any of these propositions. It could be held, of course, that the claims are somewhat trite, but it is hard to question their relevance or their rightness when the objective circumstances triggering their articulation have changed so little as to warrant silence on the subject.

Of the salient claims made by Bhagwati and Co., one is that poverty has been well-served by growth in India. I believe it is right to entertain some doubt on two matters associated with such a claim: (i) has the reduction in money-metric poverty, based on the dubious official methodology of identifying the poverty line resorted to by both the 1993 Planning Commission Expert Group and the 2009 Tendulkar Committee, really been as dramatic as the official statistics suggest?; and (ii) even if there has been some reduction in money-metric poverty, how can it all be attributed to growth and not also to direct anti-poverty State policy?

Additionally, whether we speak of money-metric poverty, or multidimensional deprivation, are current levels of privation acceptable with respect to their absolute magnitude, and in relation to either India’s potential for poverty-reduction or the achievements of countries that started at comparable levels of under-development?

A second major claim [by Bhagwati & Co.] is that growth in India has not been seriously inequality-increasing. Trends in the evolution of interpersonal inequality in the distribution of both consumption expenditure and household assets, however, suggest an over-time increase if inequality is measured in terms of a ‘centrist’ index rather than a purely relative or ‘rightist’ index of inequality.

Speculation is not the answer

By Vice-Admiral (retd) K. N. Sushil

Navy personnel inspect INS Sindhurakshak at the naval dockyard in Mumbai where it caught fire and sank after twin explosions on August 14.

The Navy has much at stake in a thorough investigation of the INS Sindhurakshak incident as officers and sailors need to be assured that the fault lines have been found and rectified

Just before midnight on August 13, two explosions rocked the INS Sindhurakshak and a huge ball of fire escaping from the conning tower hatch, the only hatch that is left open in the harbour, lit the night sky. Briefly thereafter, the submarine sank alongside. The 18 crew members who formed the duty watch were missing. Since the flame came out of the conning tower hatch nobody in these areas would have survived. There might have been a possibility of survivors had any of the sailors been in the aftermost compartments, but normally, in harbour nobody goes to the aft compartments except on periodic rounds. The nature of the incident, the loss of the submarine and the tragic loss of lives of those 18 ill-fated crew members makes it vital for the Navy to find the exact cause of the accident.

It is very easy in such incidents to jump to conclusions and air pet theories. Sabotage, problems with the modifications, hydrogen explosion or a handling accident that set off the chain of events are some of the theories being floated — the most tempting of these being the sabotage theory because that makes the incident an open-and-shut case. We should not fall for or be distracted by pet theories. To find the truth, the Navy needs to determine for itself not only the cause of this incident but also put in place procedures and precautions that would ensure such incidents never recur. Sailors and naval officers also must be assured that we can determine the fault lines and set them right so that they have the confidence to continue to work in the potentially dangerous environment that exists on board any submarines.

From available information, the submarine was being prepared for an operational deployment and was expected to sail early in the morning. The entire crew was scheduled to arrive on board at about 0300 hrs to prepare the submarine for sea. The full outfit of 18 weapons in this type of submarine consists of a mixture of missiles, oxygen torpedoes and electric torpedoes. Of these, six are stowed in the tubes and 12 on racks in the torpedo compartment. Normally, weapons kept on the racks are not “armed.” This means mechanisms and devices that are required to detonate the high explosives in the warheads are not placed in them, thus rendering them safe.

Taking into consideration that only two explosions were heard, that would mean the remaining 16 warheads, each containing approximately 250 kg of HE, did not explode. This indicates that the inherent stability and safety of the warhead’s design played a vital role in mitigating collateral damage.

EXPERIENCED BUNGLER

The way to repair the BoP is to export more and import less

Writing on the wall 

By Ashok V. Desai

It is now 22 years since the first reforms. That is not very long in politics. Many politicians who would have been young men in their twenties and thirties in the 1980s would be mature men today. In Europe and America, they would have retired or been eased out by competition. In our country, politicians last longer. For one thing, our respect for age makes parties reluctant to throw out old men; for another, the structure of our parties is feudal, and competition is frowned upon.

P. Chidambaram, who was an energetic young newcomer in the 1980s, is an estimable senior politician today. He has been there and done it. I still remember how I admired him for the trade policy of 1992. The government bureaucracy was still steeped in old-style socialism, which gave it ample scope for corruption. He could not trust any of his subordinates; he wrote the trade policy himself and gave it in for printing. He was right in his assessment of the bureaucrats; when the trade policy came out, the babus of the directorate general of technical development found that imports no longer required their stamps. Enraged that they had lost lucrative bribes, they went to attack him; luckily, he escaped unharmed. He crossed swords with the then finance minister, and no doubt also with P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then prime minister, who eased him out when a convenient opportunity presented itself. He tried out other parties; but eventually he found that he fitted best into the Congress and came back. It has rewarded him well; he has been finance minister or home minister throughout the current Congress regime. He might have made it to the prime ministership if Manmohan Singh had not chosen to last; he may still make it.

When one has risen so high, when the fruit is so close, one must take care not to tumble off one’s perch. So it is not surprising that Chidambaram’s sword has been sheathed, his rudeness has been controlled, and his temper reined. He has learnt to make insipid speeches, though he will never be the prime minister’s match in that field. And now, he is working on a set of measures to tackle the balance of payments that belong to the pre-reform era, and will please old-style bureaucrats no end.

He had already imposed a small duty on gold; now he has raised it, and taxed imports of silver, edible oil and other “nonessential” goods. This is classic retrogression to old-style nationalism. Chidambaram’s revered political ancestors inherited severe import controls that the British introduced in World War II, and used them to discriminate in favour of capital goods, industrial inputs, public enterprises and so on and against consumer goods, especially those they considered nonessential. They thought they were thereby improving the balance of payments; but throughout their rule, the balance of payments remained in deficit. For what import restrictions do is to appreciate the rupee (in comparison to a state in which there are no import restrictions) and make exports more expensive. East Asian states, which were much less protectionist and which used the exchange rate more actively, became export powerhouses, while India shrank into itself and became an island of high costs. It is Chidambaram’s ambition to return India to that eminence. As it is, India is running a huge payments deficit. It is clear evidence that the rupee is overvalued. Chidambaram’s proposed import controls can make it only more overvalued.

Pak Taliban in Syria: Should India be Worried?


In early July 2013, a small group of expert trainers from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) reportedly set up a base (command and control centre) in Syria to support jihadist activities against the Assad regime. Subsequently, there have been media reports that hundreds of Pakistani jihadists from the TTP and organisations such as the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) will soon be fighting in Syria. This could have a potentially adverse impact on India.

The TTP commanders in Pakistan reportedly state that they want to fight alongside their "Mujahedeen friends" in Syria to reciprocate the support they have received from the Arabs in their jihad against the Russians and the Americans. But the reasons are perhaps more nuanced and relate also to the wider sectarian conflict for eminence in the Islamic world between Shia and Sunni groups. Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah, on 25th May 2013 declared to his Shiite followers in Lebanon that the Syrian war is "our battle". In response, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian theologian who is perhaps the world’s most influential Sunni cleric, called on Sunni Muslims worldwide at a Friday rally in Doha onMay 31, to fight against the Assad regime and Hezbollah in Syria. These calls appear to be the motivation for the increasing involvement of jihadi groups from other countries to Syria.

Experts have put the jihadis from Pakistan into two categories: foreigners, who belong to al-Qaeda and various Central Asian groups, and the indigenous militants, who belong to TTP and other Pakistani jihadist groups. The foreign militants had initially come to Pakistan's tribal region to fight US-led forces in Afghanistan and according to Pakistani intelligence, these foreign militants are now heading to Syria because they view it as a priority. Pakistani militants are from various parts of Pakistan, including the provinces of Baluchistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the southern city of Karachi. They have been going to Syria over last two months through a network jointly run by the TTP and LeJ. TTP is also looking for fresh recruits for Syria in Mohmand, Bajaur, Khyber, Orakzai and Waziristan agencies. Further, Dawn reports that these militants are going to fight alongside the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Some observers have suggested that TTP’s move to send militants to Syria is aimed at strengthening the group's ties with al-Qaeda's central leadership, a demonstration of loyalty at a time when its relations with the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan, are tense. The finance for these militants is reported to be coming from sources in the UAE and Bahrain. 

Syrian Tussle

Two weeks after Qaradawi’s appeal, a Saudi cleric Saud al-Shuraim declared from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mecca that believers had a duty to support Syrian rebels “by all means.” The Syrian conflict is now characterised as a worldwide struggle between "100 million Shiites" and "1.7 billion Sunni Muslims." There are perhaps as many as 10,000 Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, Iraqi militias and Iranian fighters inside Syria including members of the elite Quds brigade of the Revolutionary Guards. These fighters have, at present, shifted the balance of power on the battlefield in Assad's favor. Shiites from Yemen, Afghanistan, and India have started to arrive in Syria though many of them say they have come only to protect Shiite shrines, such as the Sayyida Zaynab mosque in Damascus.

Human Resource Development in the Indian Army

8th August 2013

How a risk-averse UPA lost the confidence of markets and investors.

Like war, economics is more an art than a science. If wars were won by superior technology alone, the United States would not have been vanquished in Vietnam or waylaid in Afghanistan. If economic crises could be dealt with by the power of knowledge and money alone, the European Union would not be in the mess in which it wallows. If economics was just another mathematical science, the Manmohan Singh government would have been on top of the situation, given the quality of economics brainpower at its disposal. Battles, on the military and the economic front, are first lost in the minds of the strategists for want of ideas before they are lost on the battleground for want of armoury.

The second United Progressive Alliance government has already lost the battle to prevent an economic crisis. But it has lost this not because India does not have the policy brains or the foreign exchange reserves needed to defend the rupee, but because the market and the community of investors, at home and around the world, have lost confidence in the government's ability to deal with a difficult situation. At the heart of the current economic crisis lies UPA 2's crisis of credibility.

The roots of the extant crisis lie in the hubris of 2009. Five years of an unprecedented near 9 per cent growth, a secular rise in the gross savings and investment rates, a robust response to the trans-Atlantic financial crisis and the global economic slowdown and, on top of it all, a handsome victory in the general elections of 2009 made the Sonia Gandhi Congress intoxicated with over-confidence. Five years earlier, the same Congress had chastised the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for its "India Shining" campaign, but by 2009, the Sonia Gandhi Congress began to believe the rhetoric. India had arrived. The world would genuflect.

Both on the economic policy front and the foreign policy front, hubris replaced the careful calculations of strategic policy that had defined UPA 1. Many imagined the world was salivating at India's door and would enter the lucrative Indian market, be it for manufactured goods, insurance products or nuclear reactors, on India's terms. The growing risk aversion in developed economies because of their own problems was under-estimated, as was the growing competition for capital from other emerging economies.

The decision to appoint a very 1980s-style Congress leader like Pranab Mukherjee as finance minister was an invitation to a very 1980s-style economic policy. Many analysts understood this and raised an alarm. Look at the comments on the budgets of that period. The neglect of all those warnings resulted in the wounding blows of the March 2012 budget that sowed the seeds of the current crisis.

US-India ties hit a plateau

PM’s visit will not make a difference

By Harsh V. Pant

IT has now been confirmed that before going to New York to participate in the UN General Assembly deliberations in New York, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be visiting Washington in September for his second bilateral engagement with US President Barack Obama. Though New Delhi was very keen on the visit and the US President had extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh earlier this year, it's not entirely clear what a lame-duck Prime Minister is likely to achieve during this visit.

That US-India ties have hit a plateau has been evident from the lackluster engagements between the two sides in recent months.

It was the turn of US Vice President Joseph — a month after Secretary of State John Kerry's visit -- to India to reassure New Delhi how Washington remains keen on a robust partnership with India. Biden's four-day visit to India last month, first for a US Vice President in three decades, was aimed at laying the groundwork for the Indian Prime Minister's visit to the US in September.

Though it was clear from the very beginning that Biden's trip will not result in any 'deliverables', it also remains a mystery as to what an Indian Prime Minister at the fag-end of his term and with hardly any political capital left will be able to do to galvanise this very important relationship with a perfunctory visit to the US.

These are difficult times for the US-India bilateral relationship which has been flagging for quite some time now and there is little likelihood of it gaining momentum anytime soon. The growing differences between the two today are not limited to one or two areas but are spread across most areas of bilateral concern. These include market access issues, the problems in implementing the US-India civil nuclear accord, the US immigration changes, changing US posture towards Afghanistan, defence cooperation and trade. Biden's visit was specifically focused on trying to give a push to economic ties, enhancing cooperation on defence issues, pushing India for a greater role in the Asia-Pacific and addressing climate change.

That the US is clearly concerned about Indian economic slowdown was reflected in Biden's comments. He exhorted New Delhi to try to take bilateral trade with the US to $500 billion by removing trade barriers and inconsistencies in the tax regime. He recommended more measures like recent relaxation in the FDI rules by underlining "caps in FDI, inconsistent tax system, barriers to market access, civil nuclear cooperation, bilateral investment treaty and policies protecting investment."

Talibanisation of Gilgit-Baltistan


The recent attacks in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on foreign mountaineers and security personnel by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), shows the level of increasing talibanisation in this strategic region. The Shia dominated region in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), which is legally and constitutionally an inalienable part of India has been simmering with political discontentment for long. The region, inhabited by Twelver Shia, Ismaili, Nurbakhshi and Sunni Muslims has been afflicted by sectarian violence for decades and has seen frequent clashes amongst adherents of different sects and sub-sects of Islam. Shias and other minority sects have often accused government agencies of aiding and colluding with Sunni radical outfits. However, the arrival of TTP has changed the existing dynamics of sectarian conflict in the region. 

Despite the region’s long history of sectarian violence and Taliban’s propensity to jump in to the sectarian fray on behalf of Sunni militant outfits, the Taliban and Al Qaeda did not make their presence felt in this remote region until 2009. Besides sectarian motives, their movement into the region post 2009 was also driven by the deployment of Northern Light Infantry (NLI), which has predominantly Shia troops from GB, in operations against Taliban in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In April 2009, an Al Qaeda member, Abdullah Rehman threatened to blow up a four-star hotel in Baltistan. In May 2009, following a bomb blast in Baltistan, two Sunnis with TTP links were arrested with a large cache of explosive material and hand grenades. Two months later, in July 2009, a bomb hurled by Taliban militants in the Bagrot Hostel, killed two students and injured several others. Subsequently, one Taliban militant hailing from Peshawar was arrested in Gilgit on 26 January 2010.

The use of NLI against Taliban and increasing influx of Taliban, have accentuated the sectarian divide in the volatile region. Taliban’s increased presence has also led to a change of demographic profile in this delicate region and erosion of its unique cultural identity. In the first ever election to the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly in November 2009, the women were not allowed to participate in Sunni dominated Diamer District, where the Taliban influence is maximum. Although, 2010 and 2011 were relatively peaceful, this period saw significant movement of Taliban into the region especially after the operations in Swat Valley and surrounding areas. Growing collusion between the Taliban and Sunni extremists saw the mode of sectarian violence graduating from sniper firings to bomb blasts. It is believed that the Taliban inculcated in local Sunni youth the expertise of making bombs and suicide jackets. They have also succeeded in indoctrinating local Sunni youths with their extremist brand of Islam.

IP Gas Pipeline: A road to stability

By Muhammad Nawaz Khan
19-Aug-2013

Pakistan is facing an acute energy crisis and there is a huge gap in demand and supply. Pakistan, being an energy deficient country, is hugely suffering both economically and socially.

Since gas is the cheapest source of energy production therefore, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (IP) project will address Pakistan’s socio-economic problems. The question arises that how can best Pakistan get the best advantages out of geopolitical and economic imperatives of IP gas pipelines project. IP gas pipeline project is akin to peace project and would enable Pakistan to pull itself out of darkness.

The future prospect of IP gas pipeline is very bright as related to Pakistan but it is not a future of IP but it is a future of Pakistan. In fact a choice is in between the darkness and a prosperous future of Pakistan. IP is not only beneficial for Pakistan but also crucial for Iran and region as well. It is also worthwhile that the importance of IP agreement which Islamabad can extend this IP gas pipeline project by including the 3rd party to get royalty. In this regards, the possibility of extension of IP to China and India is also bright. Pakistan can become an ‘Energy Corridor’ in the region due to its crucial geo-strategic location. For importing gas from Iran Gwadar port plays an important role for the transformation of gas. Since, Pakistan is highly reliant on gas which constitutes over 34% of the resources is being used for electricity generation.

The current energy scenario of Pakistan is very bleak in this regard currently 63 million tons of oil is being spent by Pakistan on annually basis, which is 28% of the total energy, out of that 78% oil is imported only 22% is the indigenous production available to Pakistan, moreover 44% gas, 15% electricity, 11% coal, and just 15% LPG are available to Pakistan. So the major consumption of source in Pakistan is natural gas which is witnessed to increase 7.7% during the last five years. Therefore there is very heavily reliance on gas which constitutes almost 48% of Pakistan’s energy mix. The fuel oil import bill was $ 12 billion during 2011-12 which is projected to raise $ 13 billion by the next year and by 2020 it will be almost 45 to $ 50 billion. The demand of oil and energy is going to reach almost 122 million metric tons of energy by 2021-22. It means almost 3 fold increase would be in energy demand and out of that only 63 million metric tons of oil is being produced locally. That shows still almost 38-40% are going to be imported in next 15 years.

The Chinese Game Plan

19 Aug , 2013

Nawaz Sharif and Li Keqiang

With the opening of two fronts against New Delhi, Beijing will, in collusion with Islamabad, repeat ‘1962’ in the near future on an enlarged scale.

The ‘peace’ witnessed in Kashmir for many years was not due to any extraordinary Indian capabilities; it was because Pakistan was preoccupied with the ongoing war in Afghanistan pursuing its own strategic interests and that of China.

As a tactical ploy for the past several years, Beijing and Islamabad have been dishing out sermons on friendship. China has used its lobby successfully in India to promote the concept that the two nations, instead of being at loggerheads with each other, should join hands to make the twenty-first century theirs.

The twin objective was to concentrate on the American forces; firstly, with the help of Pakistan to ensure the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and secondly, that India does not shake hands decisively with the US thereby tilting the balance of power in favour of democracy.

Similarly, Pakistan, more or less a colony of China, went out of its way to promote friendship with India, using the oft employed ploy of the ‘twenty-first century belonging to Asia’. The refrain was that instead of fighting with each other Pakistan, China and India should join hands to evict American imperialism from Asia. Pakistan deployed its journalists on Indian channels at times bending backwards to placate Indian sentiments. Simultaneously, they effectively activated Pakistan’s peace constituency in India that is much larger than the one that exists in Islamabad to gain major traction. The continuous ranting of Pakistan being a bigger victim of terrorism and putting a temporary leash on Hafiz Sayeed did help to pull the wool over a large number of Indian eyes.

The aim of the China and Pakistan combine was to first employ jihadi forces in Afghanistan under the guidance of the Pakistan Army to evict the Western forces. Therefore, it was imperative to offer a fig leaf in the guise of friendship that retains calm on the Indian front. It was merely a tactical withdrawal to concentrate all available resources against the Americans in Afghanistan. Meanwhile under China’s guidance, India’s Track II crowd was enticed to sign, seal and deliver Siachen to Pakistan as the glacier is of great strategic importance to the Chinese. In the so-called Track-II diplomacy, India walked straight into the trap!

Soft Power or Ancient Wisdom?

By Lorand C. Laskai
August 19, 2013.

American political scientist Joseph Nye is credited with introducing the concept of “soft power” in a 1990 essay. However, perhaps another scholar deserves a share of the credit: Confucius.

With the Chinese prominently incorporating soft power into their grand strategies, Western commentators have assumed that China is taking a play out of Nye’s soft power playbook. But what if China is following its own form of soft power—and its own theorist of soft power—both rooted in China’s tradition and past? 

Enter Confucius, the forefather of China's political tradition, who notably called attention to the power of “moral influence”—that is, the power of morally legitimate governance. “He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn toward it,” proclaimed the ancient sage. Virtue emanates from governing by example and cultivating cultural sophistication. And from that virtue, Confucius taught, arose a basis for ruling far more enduring than that secured by coercion. As the sage further suggested, “If remoter people are not submissive, all the influence of civil culture and virtue are to be cultivated to attract them to be so.”

Though Confucius may not have actually said, “one ought cultivate their soft power,” he did underscore something very similar; “moral influence,” serves as a functional, if antiquated equivalent to “soft power.” Even today, CCP leaders are inclined to talk about their soft power intentions in similar language, deploying language like “force in morality” or “cultural soft power.” So while Joseph Nye may have introduced a Western audience to the complexities of power, the idea that power can be “soft” is as old as China itself.

The Confucian soft power ideal itself represents a paradigmatic form of Chinese governance. As a geographical expression, China has always been historically vast, existing in a liminal space, gradually creeping outward from the Han core, and achieving a form roughly contiguous with its current borders during the Qing dynasty. Ruling over this amorphous expanse was a feat of imperial statecraft, one accomplished not solely through coercive force, but also through the power of appeal. As historian John K. Fairbanks wrote, “The rule of the son of Heaven could be maintained over so broad and diverse a terrain and so vast a population precisely because it was so superficial." The appeal of Chinese civilization, and the prospect of being a member of it, often had the power to turn actors into self-regulating Chinese subjects. So while "the sky is high and the emperor is far away," as the ancient Chinese proverb goes, the emperor's presence as the leading exemplar of moral rectitude and high culture was formidable.

China's South Asia Drift

August 19, 2013

China needs a new South Asia policy. The elevation of long-lingering tensions with India, insufficient consideration of Afghan security, and the inability to adjust to a changing Pakistan point to the fact that China has no comprehensive strategy for the region. With its focus firmly pointed to its east, China has overlooked the rising instability to its west. Its activities in South Asia, rooted in domestic political needs, have contributed to, not alleviated, tensions. The People’s Republic could be an asset for stability in South Asia if it could alter its perspective on the region. In doing so, it would build regional goodwill and enhance its bilateral relationship with the United States.

A La Carte is No Strategy

China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas, its involvement in the Korean Peninsula, and its engagement in Southeast Asian affairs are each components of a larger strategy designed to achieve Asia-Pacific preeminence. Yet, no similar strategic planning exists in relation to South Asia. Chinese investment in ports throughout South Asia may one day prove a part of a comprehensive political and militarydesign, à la the String of Pearls, but right now China’s port investment is as much diplomatic outreach as it is economic planning. Relations with India have soured, primarily due to China’s maritime presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and recent tensions concerning the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are increasingly hesitant about Chinese investment. Even Pakistan’s policy establishment openly wonders about the depth of China’s commitment, viewing their strong relationship with China as useful for building roads, but not necessarily helpful in a security setting.

Beijing’s lack of a South Asia strategy is related to two factors: internal politics and insufficient long-term planning. It is no secret that China has reached a point where it must make some hard choices regarding its future development. The days of astonishing economic growth are over, as is the period where the Chinese population uniformly supported the government. China’s population has become too wealthy and holds too many political opinions for the state to govern without care for the opinions of citizens. Nationalism, still actively encouraged by the state, entices the government to take provocative action on occasion and demands the state to focus on its eastern borders. Cybercitizens, using social-media platforms like Sina Weibo, are a constant challenge to governance that requires immense investment to effectively monitor. In short, China’s increasingly politicized population is not focused on and largely does not care about South Asia.

Cattle smuggling across Indo-Bangla border a security threat: Experts

17 August 2013

There is an urgent need to accept the reality of cattle trade across the Indo-Bangladesh border and the challenge is to bring about a change in the mindset of people on this issue, according experts and former policy makers. 

This view was expressed by participants at a round table discussion on the "India-Bangladesh Border Management: Challenge from Cattle Smuggling" organised at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, on 9 August 2013. 

The discussion was based on the ORF Special Report on the "India-Bangladesh Border Management: Challenge from Cattle Smuggling". Introducing the problem to kick-start the discussion, Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, Associate Fellow, said cattle smuggling is closely linked with the problem of border killings which is a major point of contention between India and Bangladesh. 

Noting that the cattle trade is worth $500 annually, Dr Bhattacharjee attributed the illegal business to the Indian ban on the export of cattle while Bangladesh does not treat cattle smuggling from India as a crime. She pointed out that in 1993, Bangladesh gave the cattle trade legal status by making it a source of revenue. 

Dr Bhattacharjee said Dhaka fears that any changes in Indian laws could adversely affect its domestic beef industry, reduce revenues and create problems of food security. But for the Indian policy makers, this problem creates an acute dilemma. 

Dr Bhattacharjee said there are several reasons why India must take a decision on this issue as soon as possible. The most important reason is to deny criminals and terrorists an easy source of funding and transit mode. It is in India’s own interest to review the current approach to cattle trade across the border and build the much needed political consensus by aligning the national policy with ground realities. 

It’s Time to Hold Our Nose and Back Egypt’s Military

Aug 17, 2013 

If Islamists regain control in Egypt, all hope for democracy is lost. So as unsavory as it may feel, working with the moderate-aligned military is our only hope, writes Leslie H. Gelb..Let’s get real and tamp down the moral posturing about democracy in Egypt. Freely elected President Morsi and his now-deposed Muslim Brotherhood government weren’t practicing democracy. They were co-opting the laws and slowly destroying all possible opposition. Besides, they were aligning with America’s jihadist enemies in Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere. Egypt’s military leaders, no democratic sweethearts either, are aligned with moderates, need Washington more than the Islamists, and back U.S. interests on the Suez Canal and Israel. Americans rightly can’t stand the military street slaughters. For sure, bloody casualties will mount. But the United States has some modest chance to influence the military in right directions. It has little or no chance of saving Egypt for democracy if the Islamists return to power.

A plain-clothes policeman (upper left) points his gun as security forces escort Muslim Brotherhood members through supporters of the interim government installed by the army from the al-Fath mosque on Ramses Square in Cairo, August 17, 2013. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

In these circumstances, the worst President Obama can do is to press ahead on his rhetoric of a couple weeks ago when he demanded that the Egyptian military “move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government.” Alas, these words hark back to his urgings of two years ago following dictator Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. The last thing Obama should do now is to repeat this mistake. Egypt wasn’t nearly ready for democracy then, and the call for “elections” merely opened the door to power for the best organized and least truly democratic elements in Egyptian society: the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. They alone were organized to turn out the votes. Then, like today, the moderates were disorganized and divided. To press for hasty new elections now would simply guarantee return to power of those who would slowly but surely destroy all chances of a future real democracy.

Members of Congress and a commentariat enthralled mostly by Anthony Weiner–like stories and appalled by complexities wear blinders to these realities. They talk only about the military coup and the street killings—you know, the news. God love Americans. They are appalled by the bloodshed. But America’s leaders tell them little about anything else. Morsi’s strangling of opposition rights and the courts’ ability to review his key decisions have been neglected in the media. There is no “news” here. It is all happening below the radar, in slow motion. Elections, whatever the realities, are great. Coups, whatever the realities, are bad. End of story.

The Massacre in Cairo Isn't 'Egypt's Tiananmen Square'

Despite similarities between the two, the historical context between Egypt in 2013 and China in 1989 are vastly different -- and that's what ultimately matters.

Aug 16 2013, 

Egypt's current massacre has triggered comparisons to China's Tiananmen Square conflict (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters) The tense stand-off in Egypt between the military government and protesters erupted into violence this week, with the latest reports indicating that troops have killed over 600 people in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square. My colleague Olga Khazan yesterday wrote that, in terms of state-on-protester violence, the crackdown may be the world's deadliest since China's Tiananmen Square Massacre in June 1989. And, on point, articles have already referred to Cairo's violence as "Egypt's Tiananmen Square."

The comparison hasn't gone unnoticed in China, where state media has broadcast round-the-clock footage from Egypt since the killing began. Online, as this roundup by Offbeat China is any indication, reaction has varied from sympathy for the protests and relief that China doesn't have to deal with such instability. One writer even wondered: "If this happened in China, then it'd be called a huge human rights violation and China would be sanctioned. Now that it happened in Egypt, it's a hiccup on way to democracy. WTF?" 

He has a point. Immediately after Deng Xiaoping ordered the People's Liberation Army to disperse the protests, China was subject to widespread international condemnation, economic sanctions, and diplomatic isolation, costing Beijing a chance to host the 2000 Summer Olympics. In contrast, while world leaders have roundly condemned Egypt's generals, there's been no talk of punishment akin to China's. In fact, there's little reason to believe that U.S. will even suspend its annual aid package to the country, valued at $1.3 billion.

Given the obvious similarities between Tiananmen and Tahrir, what accounts for the difference in the reaction to the two cases? Here are a few explanations:

The Tiananmen Uprising arose suddenly, while Egypt was smoldering for two years.

Although Chinese cities had engaged in scattered anti-government protests since the mid-1980s, the cause of the 1989 conflict was the sudden death of Hu Yaobang, a popular refomist politician, that April. Public mourning for Hu morphed into a sustained movement against Party rule, with students and urban workers alike demanding political liberalization. Ultimately, Deng Xiaoping decided to turn the military against the protesters on the night of June 4th, and before long China basically returned to normal. The entire crisis lasted for six weeks.

There’re no winners in this war

20 August 2013

Both the Egyptian Army and the Muslim Brotherhood are locked in a confrontation that can only claim more lives on the streets and elsewhere. While the two are busy justifying their hardened positions, they are equally responsible for the present crisis

The general commentary post the Egyptian coup seems to be almost squarely divided — some supporting the victory of the ‘secular’ Army, while others expressing indignation at the overthrow of an elected Government. More uniform though is the criticism aimed at American hypocrisy. There are, however, too many generalisations floating around that need some myth-busting.

The first is the notion of a secular Army versus a rabidly bigoted Muslim Brotherhood. This narrative goes that only the Army can protect the Coptic minorities and maintain ‘progressive’ values. The marginalisation of the Copts started almost immediately after Abdel Gamal Nasser’s coup in 1952. There were restrictions placed on even minor repairs to churches (which did not apply to mosques) in laws that harked back to the days of dhimmitude. While we hear regularly about the abduction of girls and their forced conversion to Islam and forced marriages in Pakistan, the exact same applies to the Copts in Egypt. There was across the board a persistent low-level harassment of the Copts which resulted in a large diaspora migrating abroad.

Yet, undeniably, the scale of violence directed against them has gone up disproportionately since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the Copts genuinely fear Islamic radicalism, and despite the Army’s atrocious record in protecting their rights, see the military as the lesser of the two evils. The second is that the Army itself has to a significant extent allowed these attacks on Copts to increase as part of its strategy of permanent tension against Mr Morsi and his Brotherhood.

The Army has been deliberately allowing for some time now violence to spiral out of control, be it cross-border attacks on Israel, the storming of the Israeli embassy, attacks on minorities or the bombing of gas and oil pipelines. This modus operandi is almost textbook Pakistani Army, which uses internal destabilisation through sectarian or constitutional crises to topple Governments, but also ameliorates the effect of the sanctions that follow, as the Army, despite being the villain of the piece is seen as the lesser of two evils.

In a sense, therefore, the dilemma facing the international community on sanctions against Egypt is the very same that faces the Copts there. Both know that the Army was responsible — by its acts of commission and deliberate omission — for the increase in violence, but the choice the Army has given them is simple: Let us control things and face low(er) levels of violence or allow the Islamists to take over and wipe out the minorities.

In such circumstances, accusing the West of hypocrisy is blatantly unfair. Different situations demand different responses, and comparisons with Syria and Libya are ridiculous. Syria is ruled by minorities — effectively an Alawite-Christian alliance ruling over a Sunni population. The minority’s dilemma in Syria, therefore, was very different as was the international community’s responsibility to protect. The countries that have exacerbated the situation there have been Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, while the West has largely avoided any significant entanglement there. Libya again was a different ball game. The extremely unwise intervention there was the result as much of French domestic politics and Mr Nicolas Sarkozy’s acute Napoleon complex that in a sense trapped America into a fight it did not want.

Credibility crunch

Aug 20 2013

How a risk-averse UPA lost the confidence of markets and investors.

Like war, economics is more an art than a science. If wars were won by superior technology alone, the United States would not have been vanquished in Vietnam or waylaid in Afghanistan. If economic crises could be dealt with by the power of knowledge and money alone, the European Union would not be in the mess in which it wallows. If economics was just another mathematical science, the Manmohan Singh government would have been on top of the situation, given the quality of economics brainpower at its disposal. Battles, on the military and the economic front, are first lost in the minds of the strategists for want of ideas before they are lost on the battleground for want of armoury.

The second United Progressive Alliance government has already lost the battle to prevent an economic crisis. But it has lost this not because India does not have the policy brains or the foreign exchange reserves needed to defend the rupee, but because the market and the community of investors, at home and around the world, have lost confidence in the government's ability to deal with a difficult situation. At the heart of the current economic crisis lies UPA 2's crisis of credibility.

The roots of the extant crisis lie in the hubris of 2009. Five years of an unprecedented near 9 per cent growth, a secular rise in the gross savings and investment rates, a robust response to the trans-Atlantic financial crisis and the global economic slowdown and, on top of it all, a handsome victory in the general elections of 2009 made the Sonia Gandhi Congress intoxicated with over-confidence. Five years earlier, the same Congress had chastised the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for its "India Shining" campaign, but by 2009, the Sonia Gandhi Congress began to believe the rhetoric. India had arrived. The world would genuflect.

Both on the economic policy front and the foreign policy front, hubris replaced the careful calculations of strategic policy that had defined UPA 1. Many imagined the world was salivating at India's door and would enter the lucrative Indian market, be it for manufactured goods, insurance products or nuclear reactors, on India's terms. The growing risk aversion in developed economies because of their own problems was under-estimated, as was the growing competition for capital from other emerging economies.

The decision to appoint a very 1980s-style Congress leader like Pranab Mukherjee as finance minister was an invitation to a very 1980s-style economic policy. Many analysts understood this and raised an alarm. Look at the comments on the budgets of that period. The neglect of all those warnings resulted in the wounding blows of the March 2012 budget that sowed the seeds of the current crisis.

The liberal fiscal spending of the 2004-08 period was made possible both by rising government revenues and national income growth, and by relative comfort on the external side. After 2009, these pillars of growth began to wobble. By 2012, they were shaking. To add to this mess, a new group of over-confident second rung leaders in the Congress party, mouthing new mantras of "inclusive growth", began defining new principles of economic policymaking, creating further dissonance within government.

The Next Europe

Toward a Federal Union


After World War II, Europe began a process of peaceful political unification unprecedented there and unmatched anywhere else. But the project began to go wrong in the early 1990s, when western European leaders started moving too quickly toward a flawed monetary union. Now, as Europe faces a still-unresolved debt crisis, its drive toward unification has stalled -- and unless fear or foresight gets it going again, the union could slide toward irrelevance.

Their flags were still there: at the European Parliament in Brussels, August 2011. (François Lenoir / Courtesy Reuters)

When the heads of the EU’s three major institutions -- the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament -- collected the Nobel Peace Prize together in Oslo last December, they spotlighted the vague mandate and lack of institutional clarity that are at the core of the organization’s current problems. Unless these institutions can garner legitimacy among European citizens and transform the EU into a real federal union, with common fiscal and economic policies to complement its single currency, Europe will be worried by its future as much as its past and continue to find its social model battered by the gales of an ever more competitive global economy. 

The first step forward has to be developing an economic growth strategy, to escape the union’s current debt trap and to create breathing space for the tough reforms that can make Europe as a whole competitive again. As former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said, “Structural reforms can only work in conjunction with a growth trajectory.” Then, to sustain reform, the union needs a clear path to legitimacy for a strong but limited European government, one that resembles today’s Swiss federation. This will entail creating an executive body that is directly accountable to Europe’s citizens (emerging from the current commission), strengthening the parliament as a lower legislative house, and turning the council (a committee of the leaders of the member states) into an upper legislative house. Along the way, France will have to yield more sovereignty than its historic comfort zone has so far allowed, and Germany will have to realize that its own self-interest calls for it to bear the burden of resolving the current account imbalances within the eurozone.

The failure of the euro would harm Europe’s core every bit as much as its periphery, and Germany’s middle class could well pay the highest price.

The key to creating a federal Europe with legitimate governing institutions is appropriate implementation of the principle that Europeans already know as “subsidiarity,” with higher levels of government taking on only those functions and responsibilities that cannot be fulfilled at a lower level. The Berggruen Institute on Governance’s Council for the Future of Europe has sought to address these issues by gathering a small group of Europe’s most eminent and experienced political figures to debate and design the institutions that would govern a federal Europe and then plot a path forward, step by step; this article draws on their discussions.*

America's Biggest Threat to National Security? The Internet


America's Biggest Threat to National Security? The Internet 
© AP

Two months into his presidency Barack Obama significantly expanded America's first sustained cyber warfare program, code-named Olympic Games. The expansion of the program was one element of President Obama's "light-footprint strategy" that David Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times, points to in his account of the president's efforts to control the rapidly developing 21st century arms race. However, as Michael Joseph Gross writes in a recent piece for Vanity Fair, "America's bid to prevent nuclear proliferation may have unleashed a greater threat."

A report released earlier this year by a Defense Science Board task force clarifies that the U.S. is woefully unprepared for this new domain of warfare. Indeed, since the Stuxnet virus was inadvertently uploaded to the world web, the number of reported cyber attacks against U.S. networks has multiplied. Given these reports and the multiple warnings by officials such as Richard A. Clarke, counter-terrorism chief in both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administration, that cyber weapons can cripple critical infrastructure facilities, why have the Clinton, Bush, and then Obama administrations failed to deal successfully with the problem posed by America's private-sector vulnerability to cyber technology?

For one, Clarke writes in his book Cyber War, there are very few people calling for an overhaul of the cyber security sector. After the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were able to agree to several major nuclear disarmament treaties because there was a widespread fear of mutual total destruction. Cyber attacks are another matter. Unlike nuclear bombs there has been little visible destruction caused by cyber attacks on U.S. systems, and thefts of intellectual property and computer malfunctions seem to fly below the radar of government, media, and public attention. 

Reflections on the Counter-Insurgency Era

The RUSI Journal

Published online: 14 Aug 2013

Abstract

This June, General David H Petraeus (Rtd) became the 35th recipient of the RUSI Chesney Gold Medal, awarded by the Institute to mark both his role in devising and implementing the US counter-insurgency doctrine that was used to such great effect in the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his distinguished lifetime service and contribution to international defence and security. In his acceptance speech – an edited version of which is presented here – General Petraeus reflects on the ‘Counter-Insurgency Era’ of the past decade and draws lessons for the future.

This June, General David H Petraeus (Rtd) became the 35th recipient of the RUSI Chesney Gold Medal, awarded by the Institute to mark both his role in devising and implementing the US counter-insurgency doctrine that was used to such great effect in the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his distinguished lifetime service and contribution to international defence and security. In his acceptance speech – an edited version of which is presented here – General Petraeus reflects on the ‘Counter-Insurgency Era’ of the past decade and draws lessons for the future.

Since leaving the US government, I have had an opportunity to think about some of the missions in which I was privileged to engage while in uniform and then at the CIA. Reflecting on what some observers have termed the ‘Counter-Insurgency Era’, I would like to highlight some of the lessons that might be drawn from our experiences, and also offer my view that, contrary to pundit opinion, the Counter-Insurgency Era is not over. That is, quite simply, because the Insurgency Era is not over.

The Bottom Line

Insurgency does not appear to have gone out of style. It is, after all, among the oldest forms of warfare, and certainly remains the most prevalent. Whether triggered by domestic struggles for power and influence, ideological inspirations or ethno-sectarian differences, the outcomes of such conflicts will continue to shape the world in which we live – as the upheavals associated with the Arab Spring and the extremist challenges in Mali and the Maghreb remind us. Indeed, the significance of these and other conflicts around the world to our long-term interests should not be underestimated.

The United States, the United Kingdom and the other countries that have sacrificed so much since 9/11 may, understandably, be reluctant to put boots on the ground either to counter insurgencies or to support groups seeking to topple oppressive regimes. In spite of that, however, we do need to preserve the intellectual understanding and skills gained from the wars of the last decade – many of which, as fellow counter-insurgency scholar John Nagl has observed, have been paid for and written in blood. Numerous countries and regions face or will face insurgencies; and undoubtedly, it will be in our interest to help at least some of those countries counter those insurgencies, even if we do so in ways that do not involve large military footprints.