10 October 2013

Deconstructing Keran

October 9, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under Analysis

Terrain view of forested high altitude area of operations at 12000 feet

Last fortnight has been trying for the Indian Security forces which saw an upsurge of violent militant activity in J&K. In our analysis based on our visits to Kashmir we had opined that as a run up to 2014, violence in J&K would pick up if Pakistan wished to keep the issue alive. They obliged.

While routine BAT actions at LC were anticipated before the closure of passes, the Keran bid of enmass infiltration supported and orchestrated by the Jihadi Military Complex (JMC), displayed a heightened sense of despondency and desperation on part of Pakistan – one to derail the Man Mohan – Sharif talks in Washington and second to remind the Indian establishment that despite Af Pak and al Mizan, Kashmir was central to Pakistan’s terror plot.

What did Pakistan hope to achieve by infiltrating such mass numbers in a strategically insignificant area unlike Kargil?

Their aim was not so much as to infiltrate as to engage the Indian army in a sustained operation but to draw global attention in support of their claims to Kashmir when Nawaz Sharif was scheduled to open talks with PM Man Mohan Singh. Well it was always known that as Nawaz Sharif, battling JMC pressure at home, builds atmospherics for peace, violence in Kashmir will pick up. We had articulated that here.

However, it must be understood that this action by the Pakistan military is a perfect example of their bravado by conflict initiation with terrible conflict termination strategy something apparently they take pride in. Karen is no strategic game unlike Kargil where Pakistan could severe the Leh highway. Here they are at the mercy of Indian Army with their only road passing through the Neelam Valley, sand witched between Gurais and the Kishan Ganga river, which can be interdicted at will. As the ceasefire had been convincingly violated, India could have upped the ante here. Had India decides to go beyond the LC the Neelam/Kishanganga Valley to the East, bordering Gurez, would have been completely cut off.

The army briefings by Lt Gen Gurmit Singh rubbished Mukul Deva style military fiction stories built around the infiltration attempts. The term “occupation of the ghost village of Shala Bhata”, the way it was put across by section of media does conjure pictures of Kargil to the uninitiated. However, it takes a lifetime to understand the social dynamics of operating in a highly intense battle of nerves against a determined enemy on this perennial battlefield. Such ghost villages exist at various places along the LC and BAT occupation during a bid to infiltrate terrorists does not amount to Kargil type operation.

Slain militants on the LC Fence

Pakistani identity card of the slain militant exposes Pakistan’s complicity

Wages of Mishandling Pakistan

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Posted on October 8, 2013

Brahma Chellaney, The Economic Times, October 9, 2013

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent state visit to Washington generated a lot of media coverage, not in the U.S. (where the media literally took no note of it) but in India, thanks to the planeload of journalists that Singh took with him. Rarely before had an Indian prime minister’s state visit to U.S. been so invisible to Americans.

If the American media did notice Singh, it was only at the fag end of his trip when he met with his Pakistani counterpart in New York. That put the spotlight, however briefly, on the India-Pakistan equation rather than on the Indo-U.S. relationship. New Delhi doesn’t like the India-Pakistan hyphenation, yet its own actions can be counterproductive. Singh defiantly met Nawaz Sharif, disregarding both public opinion at home and the Pakistani military’s increased hostility.

But before meeting Sharif, Singh complained to US President Barack Obama about Pakistan’s continuing export of terrorism — a complaint that prompted Sharif to purportedly compare Singh with a whining “dehati aurat.” By grumbling to Obama, Singh implicitly expressed his government’s helplessness in countering Pakistani terrorism, besides signalling that his meeting with Sharif was at the U.S. request. In fact, the state department welcomed his discussion with Sharif, saying “dialogue is a positive step forward and we’ll continue to encourage that.”

If Singh believed that holding political dialogue with Pakistan’s new civilian government was important, a New York meeting at the foreign minister level would have sufficed at this stage, especially since no one expected a meeting between the two PMs to break new ground.

Yet the extent to which Singh went to save his September 29 meeting with Sharif can be gauged from one troubling fact: news about the September 24 Pakistani cross-border raid into the Keran sector — which triggered a two-week gunbattle between Indian army troops and the intruders — was not released by the government until after the Singh-Sharif meeting. It is unfortunate the government allowed the political exigencies of a meeting in New York to take precedence over the imperative to inform the nation about a major intrusion involving Pakistani special forces.

It is crystal clear that India’s Pakistan policy has lost all sense of direction. Indeed, it is so adrift that it has emboldened the Pakistan army to carry out multiple acts of aggression across the line of control this year without fear of Indian retribution — from the decapitation of two Indian soldiers and the separate killing of five troops to the Samba raid and the Keran incursion. Sadly, the government has also sowed factionalism in the army’s senior hierarchy by playing favourites and targeting the ex-chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, through media plants.

Age of the water wars

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Posted on October 9, 2013

As competition for this precious resource grows, water will be a key to war and peace

BRAHMA CHELLANEY, The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2013

In an increasingly water-stressed world, shared water resources are becoming an instrument of power, fostering competition within and between nations and exacerbating impacts on ecosystems. This week’s Budapest World Water Summit is the latest initiative in the search for ways to mitigate the pressing challenges.

Consider some sobering facts: Bottled water at the grocery store is already more expensive than crude oil on the spot market. More people today own or use a cellphone than have access to water-sanitation services.

Unclean water is the greatest killer on the globe, yet a fifth of humankind still lacks easy access to potable water. More than half of the global population currently lives under water stress — a figure projected to increase to two-thirds during the next decade.

Potentially calamitous water shortages in the coming decades in the densely populated parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa — the world’s most-parched regions — could produce large numbers of “water refugees” and overwhelm some states’ institutional capacity to contain the effects. The struggle for water is already escalating interstate and intrastate tensions.

Downstream Egypt, for example, uses the bulk of the Nile River’s water, yet it is now threatening unspecified reprisals against Ethiopia’s ongoing construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam. China, already the world’s most-dammed nation and unrivaled hydro-hegemon, has approved the construction of 54 new dams — many of them on rivers that are the lifeblood for countries in Southeast and South Asia — as it seeks to build a strategic grip on transboundary water flows.

US-India relations hit a rough patch

Shashank Joshi
8 October 2013

When Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Washington last week for the first time in four years, the mood was distinctly subdued. India's once-stratospheric growth rate is stubbornly depressed. The Indian government is low on political capital and stuck in risk-averse mode until next year's general elections, with a huge question mark over Singh's personal future.

Most Indians anyway focussed on Singh's New York meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif — underwhelming, as it turned out, and marred by a perceived slur — rather than his meetings with President Obama. More generally, the promise of US-India relations remains far below the levels anticipated only a few years ago.

Why the stasis?

There are any number of reasons. Indian journalist Indrani Bagchi suggests that 'there remains a strong lobby within this government starting with [ruling Congress Party chairwoman] Sonia Gandhi and [Defence Minister] AK Antony downwards, which retains an instinctive aversion to America'.

That same government's slow rate of economic reform irks American companies who want to invest in India. In particular, a strict nuclear liability law limits those companies' ability to exploit a landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement initiated by the Bush administration in 2005.

Also, India's byzantine procurement rules madden the American defence companies eager to sell into what is one of the few growing arms markets in the world.

A sense prevails that the low-hanging fruit in the bilateral relationship was picked some years ago. But one less-noticed problem is that the limited bandwidth of US foreign policy is presently occupied by issues in which India is either wary of US policy or simply apathetic.

The Middle East 

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September, President Obama noted that 'in the near term, America's diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab-Israeli conflict'. India has much to gain from a rapprochement between Iran and the United States, not least the ability to once again freely import Iranian oil. India was circumventing international sanctions by paying for a diminished flow of Iranian oil in rupees, but the new Iranian government is insisting that India can only pay for half this way. India is a bystander rather than active participant in the broader dispute, watching from the sidelines as the P5+1 bloc, which includes Russia and China, participates in negotiations. 

On Syria, India is sympathetic to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. It views the issue through the lens of the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, which Indians see as indelibly associated with the subsequent uprising in Kashmir and the growth of anti-Indian militancy. When the Indian Government summoned the Syrian Ambassador in Delhi last month, it was not because of Syrian policies but because the ambassador had alleged that Indian jihadists were fighting with the rebels. The ambassador stated, tellingly, that 'he was always deeply appreciative of India's position on Syria'.

The Boer Battles

Gandhi wearing white to mourn the death of Indian strikers in police firing, early 1914

Historian Ramachandra Guha’s new book explores the critical formative years of Gandhi’s political life, his time spent in England and South Africa. An excerpt:

As a schoolboy, Gandhi befriended a Muslim classmate in Rajkot. As a law student, he shared a home with a Christian vegetarian in London. However, it was in South Africa that he more fully elaborated his unique spirit of ecumenism. This was religious—originally employed by Muslim merchants, Gandhi came to count Jews, Christians and Parsis as among his closest companions. It was equally social—a middle-class man himself, Gandhi was to identify deeply with hawkers and labourers. As the poorer Indians in South Africa were largely Tamil-speaking, he came to understand the diversity of language as well.

Gandhi was born and raised a Hindu, and he avowed that denominational label all his life. Yet no Hindu before or since had such a close, intense engagement with the great Abrahamic religions. He understood Judaism through a highly personal lens, through his friendships with (Henry) Polak, (Hermann) Kallenbach and Sonja Schlesin especially. His interest in Christianity was both personal and theological—he liked (Joseph) Doke and loved (Charles Freer or C.F.) Andrews, but whereas he was not really influenced by Jewish thought he was profoundly shaped by heterodox Christian texts, above all Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You. His relations with Islam were partly personal, but largely pragmatic and political. He had read the Quran (probably more than once), but was never really moved by it in the same way as he was moved by the Bhagavad Gita or even the Sermon on the Mount. He had some Muslim friends, but what concerned him more—much more—was the forging of a compact between Hindus and Muslims, the major communities in the Indian diaspora in South Africa, as they were in India itself.

Perhaps even more striking than his religious ecumenism was Gandhi’s complete lack of bitterness towards the ruling race. The roots of this lay in those years in London, and the friendly engagements with vegetarians and others. In May 1891, just before he left England for India, he expressed the hope that “in the future we shall tend towards unity of custom, and also unity of hearts”. Some years later, when set upon by a white mob in Durban, Gandhi chose to remember not his persecutors but the whites who stood by him. Still later, when faced with the rigorous racial exclusivism of the Transvaal, Gandhi sought “points of agreement” with the oppressors, with whom he hoped to live in “perfect peace”. Years of harassment and vilification at the hands of Boers and Britons did not deter Gandhi from seeking “the unity of human nature, whether residing in a brown-skinned or a white-skinned body”.

To be sure, it was harder, and perhaps more admirable, for Europeans to befriend Gandhi. In 1904, when Boer and Briton alike were being driven to a frenzy by the prospect of Asian immigration, a meeting in Volksrust resolved that “any white person who aids, abets, assists or in any way connives, directly or indirectly, to the establishing of the Indian trader within our gates is an enemy to the advancement of the white races of the country”. (L.W.) Ritch, the Polaks, the Dokes, Kall­en­bach, Sonja Schlesin, were all happy enough to be counted as enemies by the herd—and the mob.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Parsi philanthropist Ratan Tata

Gandhi’s ability to disregard differences of race and faith was exceptional in any time and place, not least the South Africa of the 1890s and 1900s. Instructive here was his first encounter with Winston Churchill, which took place in London in 1906, at a time when they were both relatively obscure. The secretary of the British Indian Association of the Transvaal had gone to call on the under-secretary of state for the colonies. They were discussing the fate and future of the Johannesburg locality of Vrededorp. Here, Dutch burghers and Indian immigrants traded side by side, an arrangement that Churchill considered violative of tradition, custom and of human nature itself.

Churchill’s perceptions—and prejudices—in this regard had been consolidated by his experiences in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Thus, to the plea that Indians be allowed to live and trade in Vrededorp, Churchill ans­wered that “the practice of allowing European, Asiatic and native families to live side by side in (a) mixed community is fraught with many evils....” It was an argument which could not resonate with Gandhi, who, in the same city of Johannesburg, already had as housemates a European couple, one Christian, the other Jewish.

By his mid-30s, by the time of the epic Empire Theatre meeting of 1906, Gandhi had exceeded his mentor Gokhale in the breadth of his social vision and his personal practice. 

Gandhi’s ecumenism was most forcefully stressed in an unpublished memoir by one of these housemates. Henry Polak thus wrote of his friend and leader that while he was “a Vaishnava Bania by birth, he is by nature a Brahmin...the teacher of his fellow-men, not by the preaching of virtue, but by its practice; by impulse a Kshatriya, in his chivalrous defence of those who had placed their trust in him and look to him for protection; by choice a Sudra, servant of the humblest and most despised of his fellow-men. It is said of (the seer) Ramakrishna that he once swept out the foul hut of a pariah with his own hair, to prove his freedom from arrogance towards and contempt for the untouchable outcast. The twice-born (i.e. upper-caste) prime minister’s son has been seen...with his own hands to purify the sanitary convenience of his own house and of the gaols in which he has been interned”.

Having spoken of Gandhi’s ability to be of all castes and of no caste at all, Polak then stressed his ecumenism of faith: “Religion implies, for him, a mighty and all-embracing tolerance, and a large charity is the first of the virtues. Hindu by birth, he regards all men—Mahomedans, Christians, Zoro­astrians, Jews, Buddhists, Confucians—as spiritual brothers. He makes no differences amongst them, recognising that all faiths lead to salvation, that all are ways of viewing God, and that, in their relation to each other, men are fellow human beings first, and followers of creeds afterwards. Hence it is that men of all faiths, and even of none, are his devoted friends, admirers, and helpers....”

Pak Regulars Combine with LeT, Mujahids, and Taliban against India

Issue Net Edition | Date : 09 Oct , 2013

It is not surprising that India’s lack of strategic culture denies policy makers to think beyond Border Action Teams (BAT). Whether the BAT obsession is because of the penchant for cricket diplomacy is not known. This too maybe relevant to Pakistan but Chinese don’t play cricket. Yet, pundits attribute deep PLA intrusions to Chinese Border Regiments, who incidentally are very much directly under PLA not that this is not known especially to our mandarin speakers including the NSA.

Why has the Defence Minister not given any statement in last so many days? Wasn’t the daily situation report on his and the Prime Minister’s table every morning? Or is he too busy planning the joint military exercise with PLA this month?

Through the article, ‘Another Kargil in Keran Sector?’ published in these columns on 3rd October, I had pointed out that the massive intrusion in Keran Sector since 22nd September was deliberately kept under wraps to facilitate the Prime Minister meet Nawaz Sharif in New York – a shame. Whether the Army has been forced now by the political masters (under media pressure) to call off the operation and reduce it to ‘mopping up’ is the bulk opinion in civil circles but more pertinently, the following questions are being asked:
  • Why has the Defence Minister not given any statement in last so many days? Wasn’t the daily situation report on his and the Prime Minister’s table every morning? Or is he too busy planning the joint military exercise with PLA this month?
  • If the intruders had occupied an abandoned village, why were they not subjected to concentrated artillery fire and blown to pieces especially since they were on higher ground?
  • Did we not learn the above lesson from the Kargil conflict?
  • Was the Army stopped by the political authority from doing so?
  • The Army Chiefs explanation that “we respect the ceasefire” is laughable in face of repeated Pakistani breaches and wasn’t this intrusion serious enough to blast the Pakistani post (s) itself that facilitated this intrusion?
  • When the intruders were assessed as 30-40, how many are still inside if only eight bodies were found? Do you expect us to believe that balance bodies were “dragged back” across the LC?
  • Is the army content with a brigade strength three sided cordon of the intruders, using Special Forces to flush the intruders like regular infantry and finally getting less than one third of the intruders?
  • Has the abandoned village area been occupied now? If not, what prevents repeat of similar intrusion?
  • Isn’t the Army concerned about the host of questions in TV debates about beatings taken in recent months or is it content with old timers writings about how they dealt with similar situations in their time?
  • Why have we not reacted to the squeak by the Paki High Commissioner that they occupied an abandoned Indian post? Why has he not been called and handed a demarche?

…both Afghan Taliban and Pakistan Taliban will join hands and the Mujahids will support them in garb of Taliban fighters, as would regular Paki soldiers too.

Getting back to the good old BAT (not the cricket one), no doubt the BAT is a mix of Paki regulars including special troops (SSG?)and terrorists but do we need Sun Tzu to tell us that the enemy would have graduated far beyond leaving the planning and execution to forward troops as was happening for past several years, what with Kayani’s guile. Michael Hughes, Geopolitical journalist wrote two years back, “In a movement that should have floored US policymakers, Kayani was brazen enough to try and inveigle Afghanistan to strike a power-sharing arrangement with the Haqqanis. And Kayani, apparently the spokesperson for the Haqqani group, said they’d be willing to split from and denounce Al Qaeda, which is President Obama’s primary rationale for the war. However, there is a higher probability of General Kayani converting to Hinduism than there is of the Haqqani Network ever being decoupled from Al Qaeda.”

On 8th September 2013, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman told a group of reporters in Waziristan (Pakistan) that the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban are linked and that Afghan Taliban are financially supporting Pakistani Taliban. This blows the cover of Pakistanis convincing US to differentiate between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban as so-called “good” and “bad” Taliban. The nexus gives Taliban more space to operate inside Afghanistan post US withdrawal and will provide the ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan. Fazlullah, Pakistan Taliban Leader had stated on 21 Oct 2011, “Pakistani leaders approach us when their relations sour with the US and later forget their promises and become more harsh and cruel when their relations are restored with the US. We know these tricks of the Pakistani rulers.” This shows clear links of ISI-Taliban links. Presently Fazlullah is happily lodged in Kunar Province of Afghanistan under Afghan Taliban protection, as facilitated by ISI.

With little fanfare, Afghanistan War drags into 13th year

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Sgt. Blaine Zimmerman walks through a wheat field during a mission near Strong Point Dennis at Combat Outpost Nalgham, on May , 2011. 

Stars and Stripes 

U.S. soldiers with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and Afghan troops hug the ground as a CH-47 Chinook helicopter kicks up dust and rocks. It was lifting off outside the village of Shuyene Wusa, as part of a recent clearing operation in the Arghandab River valley, Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

Drew Brown/Stars and Stripes

Monday marks 12 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, and for a conflict that’s been seemingly forgotten by most Americans who’ve grown weary of war, it seems fitting that the anniversary should be overshadowed by a domestic story: the federal government shutdown.

More than a decade since the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom on Oct. 7, 2001, there are still 54,000 American troops in Afghanistan. That is more, by far, than at any time during the first seven years of the war, yet these days, they garner scant news coverage. Most recently, Syria’s civil war and the use of chemical weapons as well as the federal government shutdown have buried Afghanistan news, even as Americans continue to die — four were killed within a week in so-called insider attacks just at the end of September.

“There is a bloody war happening, and no one is talking about it,” said Ahmad Majidyar, an Afghanistan expert at the American Enterprise Institute and a frequent adviser to the U.S. Army.

The U.S. role is diminishing and casualties among members of the U.S.-led international coalition are down as the Afghan security forces take over more of the fighting. But Americans are still fighting — and dying.

With nearly three months left in 2013, at least 102 U.S. troops had died in Afghanistan as of Oct. 1, according to The Associted Press — more than during any of the first six years of the war. The military is whittling forces down to approximately 34,000 by February and the number of coalition bases has gone from a high of 800 to about 100 now. But combat troops will be there for another 15 months, so we are likely still a long way from the last U.S. casualty in Afghanistan.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. sent in a small force heavily reliant on special forces able to quickly knock out the Taliban, who had sheltered the al-Qaida terrorists responsible for the attacks. But Osama Bin Laden escaped, along with many other al-Qaida leaders, and it would be nearly 10 years before the U.S. tracked him down, hiding in a safe house in neighboring Pakistan.

Kashmir: India-China-Pakistan Triangular Conflict

by brig Amar Cheema in IDR. OCT 8 2013.

Poor Kashmir, it lies in the Himalayan ramparts where the borders of India, Pakistan and China rub together. Reality mocks its beauty. There is no escaping the permeating meloncholy of a land that lies under the gun.” — Trevor Fishlock

Kashmir’s ‘locational’ relevance for India, China and Pakistan has always been significant and it has become a driver in its own right for the perpetual state of conflict with Pakistan and a reality which has the potential for keeping the Sino-Indian relations adversarial.

The indelible factors of geography in terms of ‘location,’ ‘space’ and ‘terrain’ in shaping the destiny of nations remains profound. The conflict that has been going on ‘for’ and ‘in’ the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for seven decades is a prime example; it is the State’s locational position on the face of the earth for China, India and Pakistan that is driving the triangular competition in which Pakistan’s virulence is being used both as the means to ‘contain’ India, and her territory, including what she occupies to act as a spring board for China’s regional outreach.

Contributing to the factors of geography are vestiges of the past. Shadows of history fall long and keep festering if the end state is allowed to remain open ended and if actions are not grounded in strategic logic. Such has been the case of Kashmir – both in handling Pakistan and China and failing to integrate the Kashmiri people. In the absence of the national will to correct what the Chinese call as ‘historic mistakes,’ outrages in the form of periodic sabre rattling and violence would continue – Keran and Samba are merely the recent of the many examples. While mistakes of the past cannot be undone and war is never a good option, corrective measures within a well calibrated operating matrix are always possible.

Though stating the obvious, it is important to highlight that the map is intended to draw attention to the adverse balance sheet after seven decades of conflict; out of the 2,22,236 square kms that originally comprised the Princely State of J & K, 56 percent has already passed under the control of China and Pakistan. The mutilated state of J&K is marked in black and red respectively-lines that have been drawn with blood of soldiers who continue their unending vigil in the absence of a coherent national strategy. At the same time the map reiterates Kashmir’s geographical proximity with Afghanistan, with which it shares a land border, and the proximity of the energy rich Central Asian Republics. Kashmir’s ‘locational’ relevance for India, China and Pakistan has always been significant and it has become a driver in its own right for the perpetual state of conflict with Pakistan and a reality which has the potential for keeping the Sino-Indian relations adversarial.

The triangular strategic competition between China and Pakistan on one side and India on the other is remicent of the Great Game of yesteryears; the aims and ends may have changed, but Kashmir’s strategic value as an avenue for Great Powers, remains a significant factor for conflict. China wants to develop her Silk Route through her territory (Gilgit-Baltistan) and India (ideally) would like to develop energy routes to the CAR nations through Afghanistan, which are best accessed through her territory/Pakistan. Since the aims are not complementary and there is no reason to expect a diplomatic solution, the ‘K’ factor and the dynamics it generates would add to the volatility and exacerbate the competition. If the frequency and scale of incidents of the current year are any indication, preliminary moves for setting the stage to exploit the post 2014 situation are already underway.

Which India does America Want?

The question which India does America want is intriguing for there are no two India’s but then does America want a strong India or a weak one – that is the difficult part. There are no straight answers. Ask official establishments of both India and US and the answer is of course a strong India but closer examination indicates hosts of ambiguities akin the Bush’s remark that ‘India has to fall in place’, a statement that can be construed any which way.

Declassified 1962 vintage US documents disclose US view that India and China should never be permitted to join hands as that would not be in US interests, implying they should remain at loggerheads. Ensuing years have been worse. Gary Bass, the Princeton historian, in his latest book 'The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide' reveals how US President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger supported Pakistani military dictatorship’s brutally quashing results of a historic free election in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), how Nixon-Kissinger hated India and Indira Gandhi and tried their level best to oppose any Indian action despite the Pakistani army crackdown killing hundreds of thousands of people and sending 10 million refugees fleeing to India - one of the worst humanitarian crisis of the 20th century. Bass writes further that they even secretly encouraged China to mass troops on their Indian border and illegally supplied weapons to the Pakistani army, all while censoring American officials who dared to speak up. The authenticity of this cannot be doubted with these facts based on White House tapes. Bass says that Kissinger proposed three “dangerous” initiatives against India: illegally allow Iran and Jordan to send squadrons of US supplied aircraft to Pakistan; secretly ask China to mass its troops on the border with India, and; deploy a US aircraft carrier group in Bay of Bengal to threaten India. He urged Nixon to stun India with all three moves simultaneously. Bass goes on to say, “In fact, to help Pakistan, Nixon and Kissinger knowingly broke US law, and did so with the full awareness of George H W Bush, H R Haldeman, Alexander Haig and others.”

Recently at the UN General Assembly, Obama said, "The US has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries…The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't borne out by America's current policy or public opinion." What Obama presented to global leaders is an image of America as a reluctant superpower, ready to confront Iran's nukes and kill its enemies with targeted drone strikes, but unprepared to embark on open-ended military missions in Syria and other troubled countries. Defeat in Afghanistan, cumulative losses in Iraq-Afghanistan and strong public opinion at home has obviously forced the new US foreign doctrine of switching from direct military domination to more subtle manipulation, controlled engagement and boots on ground replaced by proxies but in the case of India, US manipulation has been ongoing for decades more in the interest of Pakistan and China. This, even despite occurrences like India downplaying the USA NSA snooping scandal while Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian President has thrown it back at the US.

Glenn Greenwald wrote in the Guardian that more the US knows about what other countries are doing, not just their governments but their companies and populations, the more power the US has vis-à-vis that country. But do other nations do like US NSA and does the argument that everyone snoops on governments and diplomatic missions hold while also claiming moral high ground as the global policeman? Doesn’t this snooping include blackmailing political hierarchy of the target country to facilitate geopolitical maneuvering to suit US interests? 

Foreign Direct Investment in Myanmar will Increase Stability

By Eduardo Zachary Albrecht
October 2, 2013

Tensions in Myanmar are expected to ease over the next several weeks. In the past months, a series of violent conflicts between various ethnic groups in the country drew a concerned response from international observers. A number of positive events this week, however, may lead us to consider that a period of calm is likely to follow. In particular, we are likely to see an increase in the level of trust between Myanmar’s leadership and the international community.
An agreement was signed this week by Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This agreement will allow international inspectors wider access to facilities thought to have the potential to develop nuclear technology. According to the IAEA, this move will help clear lingering suspicions that Myanmar had been trying to develop nuclear weapons during the country’s long military rule that ended last year.

The World Bank also announced the approval of a 140 million dollar loan to upgrade the country’s power supply. France’s newspaper, Les Echos, reports that the loan will double the capacity of Myanmar’s main power plant, while reducing its overall CO2 emissions.

International companies have been taking note of these types of events. The Asahi Shimbun reports that five Japanese companies have just concluded agreements with Myanmar’s aviation authority to modernize equipment for all of the country’s major airports. Incidentally, this agreement follows Shinzo Abe’s visit to Myanmar last June, when the Japanese prime minister canceled the country’s $1.74 billion debt.

Japan’s government also announced its plans to relax visa requirements with Myanmar in an effort to boost tourism and to promote the country’s economy. A move probably not unrelated to Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) recent investment in Myanmar’s Asian Wings Airways (AWA). A plan that is part of the ANA strategy to expand its business in the rapidly growing Southeast Asian markets. Japanese companies in particular are creating early inroads into Myanmar’s relatively new market, and are therefore likely to draw substantial benefits over the next few years.

A recent report by Yun Sun published by the Stimson Center points out that there has been a sharp decrease in Chinese investment in Myanmar over the past few years. Following recent political changes, Myanmar has been trying to detach itself from its economic overdependence on China, and has been looking to the West and its partners in ASEAN to counterbalance the reduction in Chinese investment. Add to this the recent quibbles over profit sharing and pollution at Chinese-owned mines, dams, and pipelines, and it would seem that Myanmar is becoming impatient China, and possibly vice versa.

Despite the positive signals coming from the government, and the willingness of international companies to invest in the country, most observers know that there can be no lasting stability in Myanmar unless there is some sort of equilibrium between the different ethnic and religious communities in the country. Here, too, there are some positive signs.

Nepal: Moving into an “Election Mode”

by Dr Chandrasekharan in SAAG

The good news from Nepal is that the elections are on schedule on November 19 and preparations by the Election Commission and the political parties have begun in right earnest.

The bad news is that the 33 fringe parties led by CPN (M) of Mohan Baidya has decided to boycott the elections and even those from the minor parties who had filed nominations have been asked to withdraw their nominations.

It is not that the High Power committee did not try their best to get the Baidya group to contest elections. They were willing to go for a round table conference to discuss with all the parties. But some of the demands of the Baidya group could not have been accommodated when there was very little time left for the proposed elections.

The Baidya group wanted to disband the present administrative structure led by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi and replaced by a group to be headed by a political appointee. With the time available this would not have been possible and the Baidya group was not clear either how this would improve the credibility of the coming elections. They also demanded a deferral of the elections which would have meant postponement of elections to next May. One last demand which perhaps could have been accepted, was the resignation of the Chief executive Regmi from the post of Chief Justice. But Regmi was very adamant in holding on to the post of Chief Justice and nothing could have been done at this juncture to get him to resign.

The question is whether the elections could be held throughout the country when the Baidya group has openly threatened that they would disrupt the elections. Some sceptics feel that it would be difficult and they point out to the recent incident at Dhulikhel where a passenger bus was torched by them.

Ram Bahadur Thapa, former chief of the PLA during the conflict, Defence Minister during Dahal’s regime and now General Secretary of the breakaway group CPN(M) has openly said that they would launch a “second armed struggle.” Their cadres are openly extorting funds from all over the country. They have also declared that they would launch a ten-day protest movement coinciding with the CA polls.

There are analysts who believe that the Baidya group should have been accommodated for the smooth conduct of the elections. But how? As pointed out earlier, except for the resignation of Regmi from the post of Chief Justice, none of their other demands could have been accepted unless the parties were prepared to postpone the elections further to next year. People would not have accepted the postponement. There are some critics who maintain that if Regmi had resigned from the post of Chief Justice, perhaps the group would have given up their other demands and contested the elections. I do not agree with this as the Baidya group with the fringe parties were only waiting to find an excuse not to contest the elections. There are hints that the Baidya group is only repeating what the Maoist group led by Dahal did in the early nineties and how as a result the group finally captured power by going for an insurrection.

The situation has changed considerably now. The Baidya group is in no position to take up arms again and people who are fed up with the past conflict will not countenance another one now. But the group has the potential to disrupt the elections at selective points and this is what has to be prevented.

China Can Attack Taiwan By 2020, Taipei Says

Source Link
By Zachary Keck, October 9, 2013

China is acquiring the capabilities to mount a full attack on Taiwan by 2020, Taipei said in a biennial defense report on Monday.

In the 2013 ROC National Defense Report, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) says that China will have the capability to forcibly reunite Taiwan and mainland by the year 2020. Focus Taiwan summarized the report as saying that China is building up its “combat capabilities to a level where it could launch an all-out attack on Taiwan, including the outlying islands.”

Among these capabilities, according to the report, China currently has 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and this number has been on the rise. The report added that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) “has stationed a large number of advanced aircraft within unrefueled range of Taiwan, providing them with a significant capability to conduct air superiority and ground operations against Taiwan.”

In the report, the MND also expresses concern about China’s procurement of two large amphibious assault ships, which it compares to the Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA) ships used by the U.S. Navy.

It also noted that Beijing is acquiring a number of capabilities—notably, the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM)—and perfecting so-called “combined operations” in order to have the necessary capabilities to deter third parties from intervening during a Chinese assault on Taiwan.

China is meanwhile constructing a multi-layered missile defense system to limit the amount of retaliation Taiwan can bring to bear against mainland China during an attack. “A number of long-range air defense systems provide strong layers of defense against a counterattack in mainland China,” the report said, Focus Taiwan reported.

Cheng Yun-peng, director-general of the MND's Department of Strategic Planning, said in a press conference this week that the 2020 timeframe is merely a rough estimate of when China would have the capabilities to overrun the island.

The National Defense Report noted that Taiwan is seeking to counter China’s moves by focusing on an asymmetrical homeland defense strategy. Cheng specifically alluded to the Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles Taiwan has developed to counter an amphibious assault from PLA forces.

China’s Dams: A Security Challenge for South Asia

By Dhanasree Jayaram | October 1, 2013

China’s proposed dams on the Yaluzangbu River in Dagu, Jiacha, Jiexu and Zangmu have added a new roadblock to improving Sino-Indian relations. What has aggravated tensions is China’s reluctance to accede to India’s call for a water commission or an inter-governmental dialogue or a treaty. Although Indian and Chinese officials have held talks and the latter have agreed to share hydrological information through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Brahmaputra and the Sutlej in flood season, the absence of a bilateral treaty makes it next to impossible for India to verify China’s claims as of now.

China’s determination to implement the Great South-North Water Diversion (SNWD) Project could have serious environmental implications for China and its neighbouring countries by affecting the flow of rivers downstream. The project consists of three stages – eastern, central and western routes – out of which the first two stages involve diversion of waters from China’s internal rivers while the third has transboundary ramifications, especially for South Asia. The western route leg targets the Salween, the Mekong, the Brahmaputra and the Jinsha. Some reports even suggest that China is planning to build the world’s largest dam and hydropower station on the Brahmaputra at the Great Bend (where the river takes a U-turn to enter the plains of Assam via Arunachal Pradesh). Approximately, 354 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water flows from Tibet to India out of which 131 BCM is accounted in the Brahmaputra River; on this river alone China is allegedly planning to build twenty-eight dams.

China’s lack of transparency has left the governments in India and Bangladesh guessing about its future actions with respect to its diversion plans. One important point that needs to be taken into account while analysing these diversion projects from the point of view of the lower riparian countries is that the same river has an average run-off of 550 BCM of water when it reaches Bangladesh due to monsoonal waters and the water contributed by tributaries. Therefore, a dam intended for hydropower generation might not make any difference to the run-off. Water diversion during monsoons could be a blessing in disguise as the excess waters have been a cause for floods in both India (particularly Assam Valley) and Bangladesh.

However, if China diverts during the entire year, it could lead to damaging consequences for the two countries. Also, the possibility of contamination, sedimentation and flash floods is high. India has been arguing that since it has 58 percent of the total Brahmaputra drainage basin and is dependent on it for almost 30 percent of the country’s water resources and 41 percent of its total hydropower resources while China controls only 20 percent of the basin, India has a greater right to the river’s resources.

The Yangtze River on which the Three Gorges Dam has been built is the source of waters for the first two legs of this grand project. Brahmaputra River could be afflicted by the same problems that the Yangtze has been over the past few years. This would affect India and Bangladesh directly. Moreover, the areas where these dams are being proposed to be built are seismically unstable.

Accusations have also been levelled against China for flash floods in Arunachal Pradesh in the past, which were supposedly caused by a breach in the upstream dam in Tibet that raised the level of the Brahmaputra by more than thirty metres. Similarly, Himachal Pradesh has also been affected allegedly by Chinese dam-building activities in the form of floods in 2000, 2001 and 2005.

So, You Captured an al Qaeda Terrorist and Are Holding Him at Sea. Now What?

Posted By J. Dana Stuster 
October 7, 2013

On Saturday, U.S. Navy SEALs captured Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Libi, in a brazen raid on his home in Tripoli, Libya. Libi was indicted in New York in 2000 for his role in al Qaeda's bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and is believed to have played a role in revitalizing al Qaeda's operations in North Africa in recent years. The SEALs whisked Libi to the USS San Antonio, which was waiting offshore, where he is "currently lawfully detained under the law of war" as an enemy combatant, according to the Pentagon.

Now what?

"Warsame is the model for this guy," an unnamed official told the New York Times. That would be Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, an al-Shabab military commander seized in Somalia on April 19, 2011. He was then held and interrogated by a special American interrogation team comprised of representatives from the Department of Justice, the intelligence community, and the military aboard the USS Boxer for two months, before being read his Miranda rights and turned over to the FBI. After another week of interrogation, Warsame was indicted on June 30, 2011 and formally arrested on July 3. While only the testimony he gave the FBI was admissible in court, the intelligence he shared with U.S. interrogators before being read his Miranda rights could be used to inform U.S. military strikes or CIA operations against terrorist groups. Warsame later pleaded guilty and elected to cooperate with U.S. officials.

While detentions like this one are part of established practice, they do present some tricky legal wrinkles. Some critics, for instance, have pointed out that Warsame and Libi's indefinite detention aboard a ship violates the Geneva Conventions, which specifies that prisoners of war "may be interned only in premises located on land."

"If the Administration considered al-Libi to qualify as a POW, then, under Article 22 of the Geneva Conventions, they should not be detaining him on a ship for any extended period of time that would be considered 'internment,'" John Bellinger, a lawyer and former State Department and National Security Council legal advisor who writes for the security law blog Lawfare, told Foreign Policy by email. "My guess is that the Obama Administration does not consider al-Libi to qualify as a POW because al-Qaida is not a party to the Geneva Conventions," which apply only to countries, not necessarily non-state actors. Bellinger has referred to the Obama administration's approach to Warsame and Libi as the "combined law-of-war/criminal law enforcement model." According to the Times, Libi's interrogators aboard the USS San Antonio still must adhere to the Army Field Manual, which prohibits torture.

Another challenge associated with Libi's detention -- and the raid that seized him in the first place -- is a matter of timing. Deborah Pearlstein, a law professor at Yeshiva University and a contributor to the law blogOpinio Juris, notes that "Most scholars recognize an international law requirement that responses in self defense be timely." It's been 15 years since the bombings Libi allegedly helped orchestrate. "[H]ow long could the U.S. plausibly use attacks from 1998, or even 2001, to justify new 'self-defense'-related uses of force?" Pearlstein asks.

When Libi makes it to the United States, he'll face an additional legal point of contention: whether or not he'll be tried in a civilian court. Libi was indicted in New York, but trying terrorists in civilian courts has been a sore point with several politicians. Earlier this year, Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte released a joint statement, saying that "A foreign member of al Qaeda should never be treated like a common criminal and should never hear the words 'you have a right to remain silent.'" It's a stance Graham and Ayotte reiterated on Monday, with Graham arguing that Libi should be treated as an enemy combatant and sent to the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay. "U.S. Navy ships were never intended to be confinement and interrogation facilities in the War on the Terror," Graham said in a statement. "The use of ships, instead of Guantanamo Bay, will greatly compromise our ability to gather intelligence from captured terrorists."

Averting water wars in the future

by Brahma C, Oct 7 2013

Water poses a more intractable problem for the world than peak oil, economic slowdown and other challenges

In an increasingly water-stressed world, shared water resources are becoming an instrument of power, fostering competition within and between nations. The struggle for water is escalating political tensions and exacerbating impacts on ecosystems. This week’s Budapest World Water Summit is the latest initiative in the search for ways to mitigate the pressing challenges.

Consider some sobering facts: Bottled water at the grocery store is already more expensive than crude oil on the international spot market. More people in the world today own or use a mobile phone than have access to water sanitation services. Unclean water is the greatest killer on the globe, yet a fifth of humankind still lacks easy access to potable water. More than half of the global population currently lives under water stress—a figure projected to increase to two-thirds during the next decade.

Adequate access to natural resources, historically, has been a key factor in peace and war. Water, however, is very different from other natural resources. There are substitutes for a number of resources, including oil, but none for water. Countries can import, even from distant lands, fossil fuels, mineral ores, and resources originating in the biosphere. But they cannot import the most vital of all resources, water—certainly not in a major or sustainable manner. Water is essentially local and thus very expensive to ship across seas.

Rapid economic and demographic expansion, however, has already turned potable water into a major issue across large parts of the world. Lifestyle changes, for example, have spurred increasing per capita water consumption in the form of industrial and agricultural products.

Consumption growth has become the single biggest driver of water stress. Rising incomes, for example, have promoted changing diets, especially a greater intake of meat, whose production is notoriously water-intensive. It is about 10 times more water-intensive to produce meat than plant-based calories and proteins.

It is against this background that water wars in a political and economic sense are already being waged between competing states in several regions, including by building dams on international rivers or, if the country is located downstream, by resorting to coercive diplomacy to prevent such construction. US intelligence has warned that such water conflicts could turn into real wars. According to a report reflecting the joint judgement of US intelligence agencies, the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism will be more likely in the next decade in some regions.

Commercial or state decisions in many countries on where to set up new manufacturing or energy plants are increasingly being constrained by inadequate local water availability. The World Bank has estimated the economic cost of China’s water problems at 2.3% of its gross domestic product. China, however, is not as yet under water stress—a term internationally defined as the availability of less than 1,700 cubic metres of water per head per year. The already water-stressed economies, stretching from South Korea and India to Egypt and Morocco, are paying a higher price for their water problems.

In fact, water is becoming the world’s next major security and economic challenge. Although no modern war has been fought just over water, this resource has been an underlying factor in several armed conflicts. With the era of cheap, bountiful water having been replaced by increasing supply and quality constraints, the risks of overt water wars are now increasing.

Russia's Military Is Back

The National Interest

October 4, 2013 -- One of the distinguishing characteristics of Vladimir Putin’s presidency has been his commitment to revitalizing Russia’s military. Putin, who has noted that Russia’s perceived weakness makes it vulnerable to external pressure and internal disruption, is pushing for increased funding to transform the Russian armed forces from the debilitated remnants inherited from the old Soviet superpower military machine into a smaller, but more modern, mobile, technologically advanced and capable twenty-first century force.

Earlier this year, in an address delivered on the day devoted to the “defenders of the Fatherland,” the Russian president proclaimed: “Ensuring Russia has a reliable military force is the priority of our state policy. Unfortunately, the present world is far from being peaceful and safe. Long obsolete conflicts are being joined by new, but no less difficult, ones. Instability is growing in vast regions of the world.”

This is not empty talk. The rhetoric has been matched by a concurrent allocation of resources; Russia is now engaged in its largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, with major increases in defense spending budgeted each year to 2020. Putin has pushed for this program even over the objections of some within the Kremlin who worried about costs and the possible negative impact on Russian prosperity; opposition to the expansion of military spending was one of the reasons the long-serving Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin left the cabinet two years ago.

After years of thinking of Russia as “Upper Volta with missiles”—a nation which possessed a sizeable strategic nuclear stockpile but whose conventional forces had not particularly covered themselves with glory in their post-Soviet operations—Russian plans for military reform and rearmament have generated some concern, particularly in the U.S. national-security establishment, which had assumed that Russia would not be in a position to project much power across its borders. The resumption of bomber patrols in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the dispatch of task forces (particularly to the Caribbean), the 2008 campaign against Georgia, and the growing size and sophistication of the yearly joint maneuvers with the Chinese army and navy have all worked to resurrect the image of Russia as a military threat. Justification for U.S. defense expenditures, which previously focused largely on increases in Chinese spending, now take into account Russia’s military buildup as well.

Perusing budget reports and position papers, Russian plans—spearheaded by the Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister in charge of the defense industry—certainly look impressive—and ominous. If, only a few years ago, the shipbuilding budget for the Russian navy was less than 10 percent of the U.S. Navy, the Russians have now closed the gap and the Russians are, in terms of budgetary outlays, spending about half of what will be allocated to the U.S. Navy for new ship construction. By 2020, the Russian army will be structured around combat-ready and easily deployable brigades, with a goal of having those forces be at least 70 percent equipped with next-generation weaponry and equipment. If all goes according to plan, the Russian military, by 2020, will return to a million active-duty personnel, backed up by 2300 new tanks, some 1200 new helicopters and planes, with a navy fielding fifty new surface ships and twenty-eight submarines, with one hundred new satellites designed to augment Russia’s communications, command and control capabilities. Putin has committed to spending some $755 billion over the next decade to fulfill these requirements.

And a growing number of Russians support the military buildup. A Levada Center poll found that 46 percent of Russians were in favor of increasing military spending even if it led to an economic slowdown (versus 41 percent opposed if defense increases caused economic hardship). This is in part due to a growing fear that Russia’s vast natural resource endowment, particularly in the Arctic, is vulnerable if the country lacks the means to protect it. Rogozin himself has continuously warned that without a modern military force, Russia is liable to be “looted” in the future.

Analog War

How to rid Somalia of al-Shabab once and for all -- in six (not-so) easy steps.

Al-Shabab is back. After suffering a series of crippling defeats at the hands of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army, the militant Islamist organization had all but disappeared from Somalia's major urban areas -- and from the list of concerns of many in the international community. But the recent attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and the dramatic raid this weekend by U.S. Navy SEALs on the coastal Somali town of Barawe have served to highlight the resurgence of the terrorist group.

While it was battling international forces for control of Somalia, al-Shabab was also in the midst of an internal struggle -- one that pitted the group's hardliners against its more moderate elements. In that battle, the hardliners were the decisive victors. And now, after marginalizing or killing off his more moderate competition, al-Shabab leader Sheikh Moktar Ali Zubeyr Godane is showing his enemies and detractors that he and his more extremist followers are still very much in the game.

Following the recent attack in Nairobi, there have been immediate and predictable calls for increased Western and African Union support to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), the fledgling national government that is projecting a semblance of authority over much of the war-torn country for the first time in more than 20 years. As recently as Monday, the president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and his defense minister, Haji Faqi, lobbied the international community for more funding to enable the expansion of the 12,000-man Somali National Army (SNA).

Against this backdrop, assistance should be rendered -- but it need not be costly and nor should it consist of adding more AMISOM troops. Success can be achieved at low cost by modifying and tweaking the efforts currently underway. To that end, here are a few low-cost pointers that may help put al-Shabab back where it belongs: marginalized, without popular support, and on the road to extinction.

Get acronyms talking to one another.

Recent attacks notwithstanding, Somalia is trending in the right direction. For the first time in over 20 years, the country has a new government, a draft constitution, and a measure of stability in most major population centers. AMISOM and the United Nations have been instrumental in getting Somalia back on its feet, but in order for recent security-related gains to be consolidated, all stakeholders will need a shared vision of the way forward. Currently, all of the major players -- the FGS and the Somali National Army (SNA), the United Nations, and the countries that contribute troops to AMISOM -- are making individual progress, but without much synchronization.

As a result, AMISOM and the SNA have struggled to protect supply routes from Mogadishu to major population centers such as Baidoa and Merka, and failed to expand their areas of operations to include the strategic towns of Barawe and Xuddur.

A political-military campaign plan, developed and agreed upon by all participants, would increase coalition effectiveness and decrease resource requirements, while providing a road map for measurable success. Al Shabab safe havens and IED cells, for example, could be attacked and degraded by relocating troops and equipment from relatively stable Ugandan-controlled areas of the country to less secure Burundian-controlled areas.