13 October 2013

*** The End of the U.S. Military's Tech Edge?

October 10, 2013

Is the American military losing its vaunted technological edge? During the next decade, the rise of new powers and the accelerating diffusion of advanced technology throughout the international system will pose significant challenges to U.S. technological dominance in military affairs. Several developments are now poised to change the essential contours of the military-technology game, including the exponential growth of unmanned and increasingly autonomous robotic systems, the potential of additive manufacturing to usher in a new industrial revolution and the possibility that directed-energy weapons could dramatically alter the offense-defense balance in key military competitions. As a result, the next decade is likely to be the most disruptive since the early 1980s, when military planners in the Soviet Union began to worry openly about a “military-technical revolution” emerging in the United States.

Technological Dominance is a Choice

Technological dominance has been integral to American military strategy since the end of World War II. Although the battle for technological dominance was a feature of that war, it was really the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, whose conventional forces vastly outnumbered those of the United States, which elevated a qualitative technological edge to a position of primacy within U.S. military strategy and acquisition. The choice to prioritize investments in fewer, better platforms eventually generated game-changing capabilities—such as long-range cruise missiles, stealth technologies and precision munitions—that contributed to U.S. technological dominance and helped to accelerate the Soviet Union’s decline.

In part due to this legacy of dominance, generations of defense analysts and policymakers have come to believe that the United States will always enjoy a technological edge over its adversaries; thus, what was a matter of deliberate strategy during the Cold War has since become a matter of presumption. This dominance, however, is far more fragile than is commonly understood for three important reasons. First, unlike the era immediately after the Cold War, today there is a real prospect of near-peer competitors enabled by an international system that is making it easier to acquire the most sophisticated technology. Second, the military-industrial base now catalyzes far less technological innovation than the commercial sector, and unless there is a concerted effort to leverage commercial innovation to address tomorrow’s military challenges, the United States risks letting its technological advantages atrophy. And finally, defense funding to support research, development and modernization will probably continue to decline in the coming years for a host of reasons, including the impact of the 2011 Budget Control Act and an unwillingness to address unsustainable cost growth in the Department of Defense (DOD). Given the centrality of technological dominance in U.S. defense strategy, allowing this decline would be particularly unwise.

Potential Game-Changers

There are a number of emerging technologies that hold the potential to radically alter the balance of power between competitors, and thus to enhance the technological dominance of the United States; however, it is important to note that technologies do not become game-changing because of their technical capabilities alone. Instead, technologies become game-changing when their capabilities align with a relevant problem and concept of operations, and exist within a favorable values system and organizational culture. As an example of the failure to meet this latter requirement, the active-denial system, which has the technological ability to act as a nonlethal crowd-control weapon, has triggered human-rights concerns by those who see it as a “pain ray.” As a result, the technology was recalled from a brief deployment to Afghanistan without ever having been used in combat.

The Post Conflict Factor in Nuclear Decision Making

E-Mail- aliahd66@hotmail.com 

Nuclear decision-making is only partially dependent on the doctrine. While the operational as against declaratory doctrine will inform such decision making, since doctrine by definition is to serve as guide, the significant coordinates of the conflict circumstance, the opponent’s manner of nuclear first use and conflict termination strategies that would inevitably kick in with introduction of nuclear weapons into the conflict will be equally significant. This article makes the point that along with these very pertinent considerations must also be factored in the post conflict scenario as a second order consideration. 

The nuclear strategy chosen as response to the adversary’s nuclear first use will determine not only subsequent conflict strategy, end game and outcome, but also the nature of the post conflict future. This article examines two nuclear strategies that form potential options for India’s nuclear response: massive punitive retaliation and flexible nuclear retaliation. It argues that from a perspective of a post nuclear conflict future, the former suffers in comparison to the latter. This needs to inform nuclear retaliation considerations. 

Nuclear use considerations usually limit themselves to what would deter best. They are formulated in order to prevent the nuclear use. India’s nuclear retaliation doctrine has it that India would respond with punitive retaliation to any form of nuclear use against it or its forces anywhere. In the declaratory nuclear doctrine, this would be of ‘massive’ levels. The threat of this, in an India-Pakistan conflict, is to stay Pakistan’s nuclear hand. It is not impossible to visualize that the operational nuclear doctrine could well be different and that in the event of enemy nuclear first use, the nuclear strategy might well be different. 

Some analysts say that India must fulfil its promise in case Pakistan tests India’s resolve. Not doing so will reveal a chink in India’s resolve thereby subjecting it to further attacks. Punitive retaliation will return Pakistani decision makers to their senses. Others maintain that the circumstance of introduction of nuclear weapons into the conflict must dictate India’s response. While the deterrence doctrine will inform India’s response, it will not dictate it. Disproportionate response would be escalatory, opening up India to like retaliation. 

What has not informed the debate so far is the factor of post nuclear conflict circumstance. Pakistan has not ruled out nuclear first use. The two approaches differ on the importance of the type of first use: whether this will be at a higher order in the form of an attempted first strike or a counter value strike or a lower order strike such as on India’s military formations on its territory. For the former – punitive retaliation – the type of nuclear first use does not matter. India’s response will be a heavy one. In case of the latter – flexible retaliation, this would be consequential to shaping India’s response. 

From the perspective of a post nuclear conflict future, which of the two make better sense? 

Punitive ‘massive’ retaliation makes sense in the circumstance of an attempted first strike by Pakistan. India will give back as good as it receives with a higher order strike. However, to the more probable manner of Pakistani nuclear first use – a lower order strike – this may be disproportionate. Even if the response sets back Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal considerably, of the 100 or so weapons it has, there would likely be some left over to damage India. While some analysts are sanguine that a large country like India can ‘take’ the loss of a couple of cities or so, they point out that Pakistan would be ‘finished’. This possibility would stay Pakistan’s hand and is therefore better for deterrence. What of the aftermath?

India Rebukes Beijing on South China Sea

By Zachary Keck
October 12, 2013

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared to side with ASEAN and rebuke China on the South China Sea dispute during the East Asian Summit in Brunei this week.

The sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea predictably commanded much attention during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and East Asia Summits this past week.

During his otherwise conciliatory speech at the latter event, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang forcefully made the case for China’s long-standing preference of trying to resolve the disputes bilaterally with only the parties directly involved.

“Territorial and maritime disputes between countries in this region should be resolved by the countries concerned through friendly consultation,” Li said during the speech, according to state-run media outlets in China.

Speaking shortly after Li at the same forum, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seemed to directly refute China’s position, although with some diplomatic subtlety.

“A stable maritime environment is essential to realize our collective regional aspirations,” Singh said according to an official transcript of the speech.

“We welcome the collective commitment by the concerned countries to abide by and implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to work towards the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus. We also welcome the establishment of the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum for developing maritime norms that would reinforce existing international law relating to maritime security.”

When asked by an Indonesian newspaper how rivalries in Asian powers could best be managed, Singh continued advocating the use of multilateral institutions to solve disputes.

“Regional forums can play a useful role in this process,” Singh said in response. “We, therefore, see immense value in the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, ADMM+ and other cooperative mechanisms in the region.”

India has periodically inserted itself into the South China Sea dispute in the past on the side of ASEAN countries, much to China's displeasure. Notably, after Chinese fishing vessels sought to disrupt India’s joint oil and gas exploration with Vietnam in disputed parts of the South China Sea last year, Indian Navy Chief Admiral D.K Joshi said that Delhi was prepared to send naval ships into the South China Sea to protect the country’s interests.

Speaking of the South China Sea in December of last year, Joshi said: “Not that we expect to be in those waters very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where the country's interests are involved, for example ONGC Videsh, we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that.”

Delhi Déjà Vu

Why India's Past is a Problem Today

October 9, 2013


India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exiting a press conference (Courtesy Reuters)

India’s prosperous future has hardly ever seemed farther away than it does today. The country’s ongoing economic crisis has darkened the atmosphere -- and done so in a way tragically familiar to most Indians. There is a feeling of déjà vu among the public, a creeping sense that the country is adrift and sliding back to the economic, political, and cultural dysfunctions of its very recent past; Indians are beginning to doubt that their country has such a bright future after all. And as long as that remains the case, India’s vast potential will remain just that.

It wasn’t so long ago that Indians were saddled with an economic system that imposed on them burdensome regulations and an opaque system of pricing, as well as a political system that failed to guarantee their civil rights and restricted their freedom of expression. For most of India’s history, the state and the public harbored mutual suspicions about each other’s intentions -- a dynamic that would periodically worsen during economic crises. Indians often doubted their government’s ability to master whatever crisis the country was presently struggling with, and they acted accordingly.

Consider the Gold Control Act, a 1962 law that banned trading gold and required Indians to notify the government of their gold holdings. Gold has long played an outsized role in the Indian economy -- Indians acquired over 14 percent of all gold produced globally between 1493 and 1930. In the face of massive foreign debt in the early 1960s, the Gold Control Act was designed to prevent capital flight.

But the policy only motivated Indians to trade gold more frantically on the black market, within India and abroad. The New York Times reported at the time that “a handful of smugglers” dominated the trade; the paper estimated that only one in every eight “gold boats” -- illegal shipments that left Dubai for India’s western coast -- was intercepted by Indian authorities. In later years, when the Indian government imposed high import tariffs to protect local industries, Indians again found ways around the policy. Indians living abroad in the Middle East and elsewhere responded to the demand for basic goods of decent quality -- everything from nail clippers to scissors to handkerchiefs -- by flying the products home in suitcases. Residents paid top rupee for their wares.

As the Indian economy boomed over the past 20 years, the state liberalized its approach to the economy, and the mistrust between it and the public began to subside. But the old cynicism is now rearing its head in the face of an economic slowdown triggered by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to curtail its quantitative easing monetary policy, which has led to an explosion of the country’s account deficit. The government has responded, in some cases, by bringing back policies reminiscent of those from 50 years ago, including a focus on coercively controlling the supply of gold in the country. The current finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, recently suggested that the national deficit could be tamed if gold imports were halted for a year. He has already raised tariffs on gold to ten percent, and required importers to set aside a fifth of all their gold for export. Chidambaram has also said that he is considering imposing restrictions on the purchase of “inessential” goods, such as consumer electronics, from abroad. Once again, Indians have responded by turning to smugglers and underground markets. Already there have been headlines about the seizure of gold at India’s borders, and it has become impossible to estimate the volume of illegal gold circulating in the country.

The Limits of Counterinsurgency Doctrine in Afghanistan

The Other Side of the COIN



Eikenberry, Obama, and General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, March 2010. (Pete Souza / White House)

Since 9/11, two consecutive U.S. administrations have labored mightily to help Afghanistan create a state inhospitable to terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities. The goal has been clear enough, but its attainment has proved vexing. Officials have struggled to define the necessary attributes of a stable post-Taliban Afghan state and to agree on the best means for achieving them. This is not surprising. The U.S. intervention required improvisation in a distant, mountainous land with de jure, but not de facto, sovereignty; a traumatized and divided population; and staggering political, economic, and social problems. Achieving even minimal strategic objectives in such a context was never going to be quick, easy, or cheap.

Of the various strategies that the United States has employed in Afghanistan over the past dozen years, the 2009 troop surge was by far the most ambitious and expensive. Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine was at the heart of the Afghan surge. Rediscovered by the U.S. military during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, counterinsurgency was updated and codified in 2006 in Field Manual 3-24, jointly published by the U.S. Army and the Marines. The revised doctrine placed high confidence in the infallibility of military leadership at all levels of engagement (from privates to generals) with the indigenous population throughout the conflict zone. Military doctrine provides guidelines that inform how armed forces contribute to campaigns, operations, and battles. Contingent on context, military doctrine is meant to be suggestive, not prescriptive.

Broadly stated, modern COIN doctrine stresses the need to protect civilian populations, eliminate insurgent leaders and infrastructure, and help establish a legitimate and accountable host-nation government able to deliver essential human services. Field Manual 3-24 also makes clear the extensive length and expense of COIN campaigns: “Insurgencies are protracted by nature. Thus, COIN operations always demand considerable expenditures of time and resources.”

The apparent validation of this doctrine during the 2007 troop surge in Iraq increased its standing. When the Obama administration conducted a comprehensive Afghanistan strategy review in 2009, some military leaders, reinforced by some civilian analysts in influential think tanks, confidently pointed to Field Manual 3-24 as the authoritative playbook for success. When the president ordered the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan at the end of that year, the military was successful in ensuring that the major tenets of COIN doctrine were also incorporated into the revised operational plan. The stated aim was to secure the Afghan people by employing the method of “clear, hold, and build” -- in other words, push the insurgents out, keep them out, and use the resulting space and time to establish a legitimate government, build capable security forces, and improve the Afghan economy. With persistent outside efforts, advocates of the COIN doctrine asserted, the capacity of the Afghan government would steadily grow, the levels of U.S. and international assistance would decline, and the insurgency would eventually be defeated.

Blindly following COIN doctrine led the U.S. military to fixate on defeating the insurgency while giving short shrift to Afghan politics.

Retiring Pakistan army chief set for key role

By Syed Fazl-e-Haider 


KARACHI - General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, one of Pakistan's most powerful men, has announced his retirement from the post of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) on November 29. With one stroke on Sunday, General Kiani put to rest speculation in the media that he would try to extend his three-year term for a third time. Some reports, however, claim that Kiani is lobbying to keep a key defense role. 

Kiani is prepared to accept a position as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), currently a largely ceremonial post that would be given more authority, or to become defense adviser to the government, according to a report published in The Wall Street Journal. 

"Kiani is using his office to say that he's the guy who can control North Waziristan, he's the one who can handle what is happening with India," The Wall Street Journal quoted a Pakistan's retired army officer as saying. "With all this going on, he's saying now is not the time for a change of leadership." 

Kiani's appointment as head of the newly empowered JCSC would make him de facto head of the powerful military, which has ruled over the country for more than half of its history though is currently under a civilian administration headed by Nawaz Sharif, who elected prime minister for a third time in May. Sharif needs Kiani to ensure some continuity in its policy vis-a-vis Taliban militancy and rising tensions with India over Kashmir. The general may be helpful for keeping smooth relations with Washington in wake of withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan at the end of next year. 

Kiani, in a statement issued on Sunday by the military's media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said: "For quite some time, my current responsibilities and likely future plans have been debated in the media with all sorts of rumors and speculations doing the rounds. The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports. I am grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in me and Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history. However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence." 

Kiani has twice served the three-year term as Chief of the Army Staff, during which he oversaw the first democratic transfer of power in the country following May 11 general elections. His services as army chief were extended for three years in 2010 under former government of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Another extension by Sharif could allow for a shift in the ranks of the military's top brass, but the prime minister wants Kiani to continue to play a key role in the military establishment. 

Critics however say that keeping Kiani in a powerful position would mean entrenching the army once again as the real decision maker at the expense of the key role and powers of democratic government. 

Kerry Visits Afghan Leader, Seeking End to an Impasse

Pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin

Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday to meet with President Hamid Karzai. 

October 11, 2013


KABUL, Afghanistan — Last Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry called President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan with a simple question: If Mr. Kerry came to Kabul, would it help break a deadlock in negotiations to keep American forces in Afghanistan beyond next year? 

Pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin

Secretary of State John Kerry, left, met with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan on Friday in Kabul. 

The Afghan leader suggested it would, and Mr. Kerry arrived here on Friday for a previously unannounced visit that, in the estimation of many Afghan and American officials, represented the best and, possibly, the last chance to head off a complete American withdrawal when the NATO combat mission here ends in 2014. 

Mr. Kerry’s decision to make the trip provided a respite from the pessimism that has spread rapidly in Kabul over the past week as the depth of the impasse faced by negotiators became apparent. Some Afghan and American officials reasoned that Mr. Kerry would not make such a public bid to rescue the talks if his chances of success were slim. 

Still, few here thought success was a given for Mr. Kerry. Hours before his arrival, a senior Western diplomat put the odds of a deal at “no better than 50-50.” 

Alongside the deadlocked negotiations, Afghan and American officials have also struggled in the past week to contain another potential crisis. A week ago, American forces intercepted a convoy of Afghan intelligence agents and seized a senior leader of the Pakistan Taliban, an offshoot of the Afghan insurgent movement, whom the agents were taking to Kabul, said Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai. 

The Taliban leader, Latif Mehsud, was turned by Afghan intelligence roughly two years ago and had become a valuable asset, said an Afghan familiar with the situation. He was on his way to meet with senior Afghan intelligence officials in Kabul when American forces took him away at gunpoint along a road in Logar Province, south of the capital. He is now believed to be in American custody at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. 

Retiring Pakistan army chief set for key role

By Syed Fazl-e-Haider 


KARACHI - General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, one of Pakistan's most powerful men, has announced his retirement from the post of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) on November 29. With one stroke on Sunday, General Kiani put to rest speculation in the media that he would try to extend his three-year term for a third time. Some reports, however, claim that Kiani is lobbying to keep a key defense role. 

Kiani is prepared to accept a position as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), currently a largely ceremonial post that

would be given more authority, or to become defense adviser to the government, according to a report published in The Wall Street Journal. 

"Kiani is using his office to say that he's the guy who can control North Waziristan, he's the one who can handle what is happening with India," The Wall Street Journal quoted a Pakistan's retired army officer as saying. "With all this going on, he's saying now is not the time for a change of leadership." 

Kiani's appointment as head of the newly empowered JCSC would make him de facto head of the powerful military, which has ruled over the country for more than half of its history though is currently under a civilian administration headed by Nawaz Sharif, who elected prime minister for a third time in May. Sharif needs Kiani to ensure some continuity in its policy vis-a-vis Taliban militancy and rising tensions with India over Kashmir. The general may be helpful for keeping smooth relations with Washington in wake of withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan at the end of next year. 

Kiani, in a statement issued on Sunday by the military's media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said: "For quite some time, my current responsibilities and likely future plans have been debated in the media with all sorts of rumors and speculations doing the rounds. The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports. I am grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in me and Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history. However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence." 

Kiani has twice served the three-year term as Chief of the Army Staff, during which he oversaw the first democratic transfer of power in the country following May 11 general elections. His services as army chief were extended for three years in 2010 under former government of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Another extension by Sharif could allow for a shift in the ranks of the military's top brass, but the prime minister wants Kiani to continue to play a key role in the military establishment. 

Critics however say that keeping Kiani in a powerful position would mean entrenching the army once again as the real decision maker at the expense of the key role and powers of democratic government. 

The Plight of Pakistan’s Christian Minority

By Malik Ayub Sumbal
October 12, 2013


Before September 22, 2013, Christians in Pakistan defined history in two parts: before the blasphemy laws and after the blasphemy laws. That definition has now changed. History is now split into a time before the Peshawar tragedy and after. The suicide bombings in Peshawar changed the way Christian minority thinks about the concept of nationalism.

The two simultaneous suicide attacks on the historic All Saints church left more than 80 dead and 100 wounded. The bombers used shrapnel in the explosive material for maximum impact, and thus most of the wounded are still in a critical condition. Others remain missing after the huge explosion in the overcrowded church.

The Davids were one of the families caught up in the attack. The eyewitness account by the family’s only surviving member, a teenage girl, explains how the horror unfolded at the church. The family was emerging with others from the church after the service when a scuffle was heard at the security checkpoint at the entrance. The scuffle was followed by a loud explosion as the first suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the entrance. Families ran in panic when the second suicide bomber entered the church and rushed toward the crowd. He then blew himself up, along with hundreds of innocent worshippers. Five members of the David family were amongst the dead. The eldest brother was studying to be a doctor and loved to paint. His surviving sister now stares at his paintings and mourns his death, and the death of other family members. Many other families were wiped out in the attacks.

The Peshawar attacks are a brutal turning point for the mostly peaceful Christian minority in Pakistan. Never in the past has the community been targeted directly in a terror strike, notwithstanding the volatile situation in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwah province. Most attacks by extremist factions led by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have targeted security officials and other Islamic sects. Christians and other minorities had always kept out of the war.

An extremist faction named Jandullah has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they are a reaction to the frequent U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s northern region, near the Afghan border. Jandullah links itself to TTP, but for its part TTP has denied any link. Through a spokesperson, the TTP insisted that it was not responsible for any attack on Christians nor would it be.

Notwithstanding that reassurance, the killing of two well known Christian politicians and a rise in cases involving the blasphemy law augur a difficult future for Christians in Pakistan. The 1.6 percent of Pakistanis who are Christians are seldom involved in extremist activities. But the recent attacks have sparked protests across the country, with protesters chanting slogans against the Pakistan federal and provincial governments. Worried at the prospect of anotherJoseph Colony incident, security forces are on high alert.

The 200,000 Christians in Khyber Pakhtunkhwah province, including the surviving member of the David family, do not wish to leave their hometowns. However, the deteriorating security situation may leave them with no choice. The protestors are now demanding something more than security. The slogans been shouted are slowly changing to better employment opportunities and legislation to avoid the abuse of blasphemy laws to persecute minorities.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome of all this is the fact that the messages mostly being communicated by Christian and Islamic scholars are the same: the attacks were carried out by anti-state elements who do not wish to see inter-faith harmony develop in Pakistan. The suicide bombings in Peshawar may have their roots in the complex Taliban network in Pakistan, but they could conceivably end up revolutionizing the concept of minority rights in Pakistan.

China: Urbanization and Hukou Reform

By John Marshall 
October 11, 2013 
They are likely to headline China's new economic reforms. But they cannot be pursued in isolation.

Since taking office, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has repeatedly emphasized the role further rapid urbanization will play in China's development strategy. Consequently, it is widely predicted that policies to spur urban growth will headline the major economic reform plan expected at November's crucial third plenary session of the 18th Central Committee.

However, Li has been keen to stress that future urbanization will be better planned and coordinated than before. Rather than focusing solely on the simple volume of new urban residents, Li wants urbanization to improve the quality of China's economic growth and the way the dividends are shared among the Chinese people.

As a key step in realizing these objectives Li has prioritized dismantling the "two-tier class system" that has emerged in China's cities, namely reform of the hukou household registration system. This will be crucial in both enabling existing migrants to fully participate in the economy and creating more attractive conditions to guarantee further waves of rural residents move to urban areas.

However, reforming the hukou will be easier said than done. It will force the government to address a number of other serious challenges, not least the precarious financial position of many provincial and municipal governments and the politically very sensitive issue of land reform.

Signs are these issues are currently the subject of fierce debate within the Communist Party. We will only know how far China's leaders are willing to go in pursuit of reform following November's crucial meeting.

Compelling Factors

Since the hukou was introduced it has been used by the Communist Party as a means of administering and organizing the Chinese population to support the Party's political, economic and social objectives. Broadly speaking there have been three phases in its operation.

During the first, from the 1950s to the late 1970s, the Communist Party had the dual goals of the collective transformation of agriculture and the development of Soviet-style heavy industry. Therefore, the Party used the hukou to balance the rural and urban populations. Movement was controlled by limiting access to work, food and services to people's registration location.

During the second period, from the late 1970s to the mid 2000s, the Party's priority was to exploit China's massive rural labor surplus to support rapid economic expansion. To this end, restrictions on movement and work were lifted but other rules, such as those stopping rural hukou holders accessing urban services, were kept in place. The result was the creation of a large, mobile and crucially low-cost workforce that became the backbone of China's manufacturing and export orientated economy.

China, Zambia, and a Clash in a Coal Mine



Twelve hundred Zambians gathered on a sunny morning in August of 2012 to protest at Collum Coal Mine, which is located in a rural southern province and, at the time, was owned by five Chinese brothers. They were angry about the working conditions in the mine: Collum had been cited several times by Zambia’s government for labor violations, and miners said that they felt unsafe working there. They were also upset about annual wage increases that they said amounted to only a single Zambian kwacha—the equivalent of twenty cents.

The miners learned that a Chinese foreman had brought outside workers to replace them during the protest, according to one of the protesting miners, twenty-eight-year-old Robert Mundike. Mundike and his co-workers confronted the foreman at one of the mine’s shafts and assaulted him. Then, according to Mundike, they beat up more Chinese workers, along with Zambian miners who were still working even though the protesters had told them not to.

The group—which included not only Collum miners but also their relatives and former workers who said they were owed wages—was becoming restless. They reached another mine shaft, near a cluster of houses where several Chinese supervisors lived. Five Chinese men ran from the settlement, past the coal-carrying conveyor belt and a rock crusher and into the mine, Danny Sikatari, who works as a mine foreman but who did not participate in the protest, told me. The mine entrance was at the bottom of a steep hill. Protesters went to the top, which was sooty from the raw coal, and unhooked a steel, one-ton trolley that stood on a path of railroad tracks. They then pushed it, hard, into the mouth of the mine. One Chinese man, Wu Shengzai, was hit and killed. Two others were hurt.

Several protesters did not know someone had died until hours later, after the police had been called and the mob had dispersed. “We did not want to kill him,” Mundike, who has a frail frame and eyes that nearly fill his face, said. “We just wanted to destroy everything in the tunnel and in the mine.”

Chinese companies operate two thousand enterprises in more than fifty African countries; of those, five hundred are in Zambia. The appeal is obvious: China is one of the world’s biggest users of copper, which is used to make everything from coins to frying pans, and Zambia has the second-largest reserves of raw copper in Africa, among other precious resources like coal, nickel, uranium, and gemstones.

In 2008, China and Zambia set up a zone in which Chinese investors didn’t have to pay taxes to the Zambian government—China’s first such zone in Africa—and fifty companies invested a total of eight hundred million dollars. As of the end of 2012, the Chinese government and private sector had together invested $2.5 billion in the nation. At least eighty thousand Chinese immigrants live in Zambia, which has a population of fourteen million. Partly as a result of all this investment, Zambia has a steadily growing economy. Its politics, though, have recently been dominated by officials who have been accused of enriching themselves by reaping the benefits of Chinese investment instead of using it to help the poor.

China’s Foreign Policy Debates

By Zheng Wang
October 12, 2013


Xi Jinping may have grabbed the APEC Summit limelight, but China still needs to resolve some foreign policy questions.

President Obama recently canceled his trips to attend the APEC Summit in Indonesia, the East Asia Summit in Brunei, and his planned visits to the Philippines and Malaysia. In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping has concluded visits to Indonesia and Malaysia, and attended the APEC Summit. In Obama’s absence, Xi’s presence at the summit was that much greater.

The Southeast Asian trip was Xi Jinping’s fourth foreign trip since taking over as president in March. That same month, Xi visited Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Congo. During his stopover in South Africa, he attended the BRICS Summit in Durban. In late May and early June, he visited Mexico, Costa Rica, and Trinidad and Tobago. At the tail end of that trip, Xi met with Obama in California. Then, last month, Xi went to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kurdistan and Turkmenistan, and attended the Shanghai Corporation Organization summit. Add all of these trips together and Xi has spent 36 days overseas since March of this year.

Obviously, Xi has given a lot of attention to foreign policy, and allocates a substantial portion of his time to diplomacy. So what will Xi Jinping’s diplomacy be – and how will it differ from his predecessor, former President Hu Jintao?

Although China watchers have been discussing these questions, it is probably still too early to give a definitive answer. In fact, China is at a crossroads when it comes to making some important strategic decisions and foreign policy adjustments, and there are major internal debates on these very questions. Although these sorts of debates occurred in the past, they were usually over specific issues. In contrast, today, these debates not only reflect specific issues but also center on the fundamental guidelines, values and identities that should undergird Chinese foreign policy. Understanding the background and context of this debate is essential to comprehending Xi’s diplomatic efforts and any possible future foreign policy adjustments during Xi’s term.

Phenomenally, this time around the Chinese have quite varying ideas on almost all of the most important foreign policy issues. For example, some people propose that China should abandon North Korea while others argue that China should establish closer relations and provide comprehensive security, protection, and even a nuclear umbrella. Some suggest that China should reconcile and find a peaceful solution to the South China Sea disputes, while others strongly believe that China should take a more assertive stance for its national interest including the use of force. These debates over specific issues are represented by differing opinions over several major or fundamental issues guiding the country’s foreign policy.

Chindian Diaries: Sharing the Chinese-Indian Experience

By Jonathan DeHart
October 11, 2013


We recently explored the experiences – and in particular, the challenges – of Japan’s hafu demographic. But the experience of growing up biracial is by no means limited to the homogenous island chain. To the south, in melting pots like Malaysia and Singapore, the experience is quite different – yet also fundamentally similar.

Some cultures tend to mesh well, such as the Chinese-Malay hybrid Peranakan culture, while others are like oil and water. Somewhere in the middle of this spectrum comes about when Chinese and Indian marry and have children (commonly referred to as “Chindians”).

Kevin Bathman, a social entrepreneur based in Sydney, grew up in the middle of this cultural crossroad – his paternal grandfather, an Indian-Tamil, and his grandmother, a Chinese-Nyonya. Spurred by the desire to explore his own family tree, Bathman launched The China Diaries project, a growing compendium of the experiences of this community. 

Bathman spoke with The Diplomat about this project, essentially a collaborative work of ethnology; what it’s like to grow up Chindian, and the ways Chinese and Indian culture have both blended – and repelled each other – within this community.

First off, could you briefly describe the Chindian Diaries project?

The Chindian Diaries project is an arts and community project that captures the stories of individuals and couples who identify themselves as Chindians. “Chindian” is an unofficial term for those with a mix of Indian and Chinese heritage.

The project was born from the lack of documented Chindian stories. By capturing these stories and photos, The Chindian Diaries hopes that these stories will act as a resource for future generations, and ensure they are never forgotten. The stories vary from identity crises, cultural clashes, struggles and misunderstandings, to stories of love and acceptance.

The project aims to collect and document stories from Chindians in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world. It is focused primarily on Chindian culture, but is open to stories from other mixed marriages as well. By gathering these stories, it is hoped that they will form a greater, overarching cultural narrative. 

What inspired you to really start exploring your family history? How did this lead you to launch the Chindian Diaries?

I started this project in June 2012 after participating in a weekend storytelling workshop aimed at digging deeper into my ancestors’ story. It forced me to delve into my family history and I learned new things about my family.

Singapore: How to Stay “Stable and Strong”

By Tan Kwoh Jack, Ho Shu Huang and Koh Swee Lean Collin
October 11, 2013

Singapore’s security approach has been a success. It’s policies now need to focus on sustaining it.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s address at the National Day Rally in August has been seen by many observers to be a landmark speech. Singapore is at a turning point, and the major policy shifts in housing, healthcare and education all aim to facilitate the country’s entry into a new phase of development and nation-building.

While the rally was ostensibly domestic in nature, external forces were also behind the changes Lee unveiled. These include increased regional and global competition, technological advances, fluid international finance and talent flows. It is a reminder of how the international environment directly impacts Singapore’s domestic politics, and how Singapore’s internal transformations will determine the country’s ability to succeed in the global arena.

There is also one other important shift to note. Small states like Singapore can, indeed, survive and thrive. As Lee acknowledges, Singapore is “stable and strong”; it is charting a bold, new way forward from a position of excellence and strength. This reinforces Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam’s recent remark that in becoming economically and politically successful, “Singapore has overcome its small geographical size.” Likewise, the recent 90th birthday celebrations of Lee Kuan Yew have sparked numerous reflections on Singapore’s achievements.

This shift in rhetoric suggests that Singapore’s longstanding narrative of vulnerability – a narrative that has galvanized its strategic policies for the last four decades in areas from education to defense to foreign relations – is evolving into one that is more about sustaining its success.

Given that the domestic and the external are intertwined within Singapore’s framework of Total Defense – which connects socio-economic factors and security matter – how might these domestic shifts influence Singapore’s foreign policy, its armed forces and the institution of National Service?

New Avenues in Foreign Policy

A more complex environment as highlighted by Lee in his rally speech means Singapore will have to continue honing its proactive stance in foreign policy. An acute sense of smallness and vulnerability has long pushed the government to adopt a complex mix of foreign policy strategies. These strategies range from the more hard-nosed belief of needing great power balancing and Singapore having its own credible military force, to being a firm adherent of international law and economic multilateralism while strongly advocating the construction of common norms, values, and identity, especially under the aegis of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Brunei Caps Off a Solid Year at ASEAN’s Helm

By Luke Hunt
October 12, 2013


The ASEAN Summit ended in Brunei on a high note with leaders of the 10-nation trading bloc striking the right note with China over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea and reaching an agreement on how best to combat the dreaded haze and promises to forge deeper ties.

A new system to deal with the annual haze will involve the sharing of digitized land-use maps and concession maps of fire-prone areas that cause haze. The data will be shared among the governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand.

This should allow the authorities to pinpoint where the fires started, often through burning off to make way for rubber and palm oil plantations, and perhaps by whom, which should lead to prosecutions and help prevent a return to the thick smog that has blanketed much of Southeast Asia almost every year since it was first reported in 1997.

By all reports the mood was buoyant as leaders touched down in Bandar Seri Begawan for the ASEAN and East Asia Summits, with a slew of trade and diplomatic meetings held on the sidelines featuring the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia, India and Russia, among countries sending high-level delegations.

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah noted that 279 measures, or 79.7 percent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint had been implemented ahead of its formation, scheduled for the end of 2015. He also said ASEAN aims to double the bloc’s combined GDP to $4.4 trillion and reduce the population who live in poverty to 9.3 percent by 2030.

The summit also focused on consolidating an economically integrated, politically cohesive and socially responsible community that would ensure ASEAN's place in the international community once the AEC is launched and beyond.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh said ASEAN would remain focused on implementing the remaining 2015 targets and ensuring greater convergence of those three pillars.

Syria’s Southern Battlefront

By Isabel Nassief
Institute for the Study of War
October 11, 2013

Despite limited media coverage, Deraa is one of the most contested battlefronts in Syria. Deraa province, where the uprising began, has been second only to Damascus in the number of kinetic incidents throughout the month of September.[1] In addition to giving insight into the current state of play between regime and rebel forces in the war, the unfolding dynamics among rebel groups in Deraa serve as indicators for how the armed opposition is taking form in Syria’s southern front. Coordinated, sophisticated operations in Deraa demonstrate the continued capacity for rebel collaboration, as well as a shift in the power dynamics among the various groups operating in the province. Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) in particular has emerged as a prominent player. Jabhat al-Nusra’s prominence in Deraa, particularly their willingness to work with civilian governance structures, indicates that the group has been able to adapt to the specific local conditions present in this conflict arena.

Pounding of the Fortresses

On September 28, 2013, Jabhat al-Nusra, in coordination with the Al-Haramein Brigades of the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement and other rebel groups, seized control of the Deraa-Ramtha post along the Jordanian border in operation “Pounding of the Fortresses.”[1] A day after the operation began, Abu Anass, a JN leader in southern Deraa, appeared in an interview that was broadcast on an FSA-affiliated YouTube channel to describe how JN’s engineer corps covertly moved to the customs office of the border crossing and placed numerous explosives along the exterior wall. JN fighters then detonated the explosives, destroying the wall and allowing assault squads to raid the customs building and take control of it. JN fighters were also able to take control of a nearby mosque and several buildings around the customs office.[2] The maneuvers that Abu Anass described indicate a high level of sophistication in operational planning.

While “Pounding of the Fortresses,” the named JN operation, focused on the border areas around Deraa city, simultaneous operations by other rebel groups led to a notable rebel advance throughout the province. Following the seizure of the border crossing, rebels captured the Masakin Jalin and al-Fiqia checkpoints.[3] On September 29, 2013, several rebel groups announced another joint operation called the “Battle of Uniting Ranks.”[4] Rebel forces under this joint operation included affiliates of the Free Syria Army (FSA), the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), and Ahrar al-Sham and have launched attacks on an army base and military barracks in Tafas, a town northwest of Deraa city. FSA-affiliated rebels have also been fighting around the town of Nawa since mid-July, with the aim of opening a military supply line into the town.[5]

Though the seizure of the Deraa-Ramtha border crossing has been widely reported, its strategic advantage is largely symbolic. The Jordanian government closed the crossing almost two years ago and rebels have held the porous border area around the nearby town of Tel Shahab since March.[6] The frequently stated aim of ongoing operations by rebel fighters is to remove regime positions which divide Deraa into the eastern and western areas. This would allow the rebels to control a swath of territory across southern Deraa in which they can exercise freedom of movement. In aggregate, recent gains in Deraa increase rebel groups’ control of a contiguous area which can potentially function as a launching pad for a push into Damascus.

The Persian Gulf Power Vacuum


America’s Middle East allies are getting ­nervous.

By Lee Smith
October 21 - October 28, 2013, 
Vol. 19, No. 07

Despite the administration’s hype of President Obama’s “historic” 15-minute phone call with the ostensibly moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, the looming prospect of direct engagement with the regime in Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, and all the other symptoms of Rouhani fever gripping Washington, the White House says it won’t be suckered by the Iranians. American allies aren’t buying it.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his skepticism public in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly two weeks ago, when he argued that the way to deal with the Iranians and their nuclear program is to “distrust, dismantle, and verify.” America’s allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman—are playing it closer to their vests than the Israelis, sharing their grievances with the administration in much less public settings. They are, after all, just across the Persian Gulf from Iran.

“There are no public statements from the GCC states detailing their position,” Tariq al-Homayed, a columnist for Asharq al-Awsat, the Saudi-owned London-based pan-Arab daily, told me. “GCC officials are all very diplomatic, but when you talk to some of them, they say it clearly. They see the administration’s approach to Iran in light of its confusing Syria policy. I asked one senior GCC official what he thought about Obama’s Syria policy and he responded, ‘What day is it today, what hour? Because in half an hour the White House will have another position.’ With Iran, they’re worried about the administration falling into the [Tehran] regime’s game, and they’re watching it very nervously.” The prospect that Obama is taking Khamenei’s supposed fatwa against nuclear weapons seriously is patently absurd to Iran’s Arab neighbors.

American allies in the Middle East do not trust the Obama administration, but, says Brookings Institution scholar Michael Doran, “they are restrained in expressing it openly. Their fear is that if they show publicly how much they distrust the White House, they are likely to get even less of what they want. So whatever criticism we are hearing publicly, raise that to the power of 10 and you get a sense of where our allies are.”

Behind the scenes, the GCC is preparing for the possibility that, after 70 years of dominance, America may be bowing out of the Persian Gulf. The Arabs, like many Israeli officials, now assume that the United States is withdrawing from the region, at least for the time being, and perhaps permanently. Some Gulf states are taking matters into their own hands. “The idea is that we did it with Egypt,” explains Homayed, referring to the support and money the GCC states poured into Cairo after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi while the White House declined to stake out a position. “So why wait for Obama with Syria?” says Homayed.

Indeed, since taking over the Saudi National Security Council, Riyadh’s former ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan has been eager to assert Saudi interests. With the White House leaving a vacuum in Syria, Bandar has wrested control of the rebel forces from Qatar and lined up the UAE and Jordan as useful allies. This is precisely the sort of alliance building that, up until now, had been the role of the United States.