28 October 2013

The Evolution of War *****

George Friedman and Robert D. Kaplan
October 11 (Video Transcript): 

George Friedman: My name's George Friedman. I'm here with my colleague Robert Kaplan. And we want to talk about one of the most ubiquitous things in the human condition: war. War is not a subject people like to think of as insoluble, they don't like to think of it as natural. But the fact of the matter is there's very few things -- family, economics -- as commonplace as war. We don't want to talk so much about why there's war -- that is a long and endless discussion -- we want to talk about what's happening to war. Where we're going today. Everybody's talking about revolutions in warfare, the end of peer-to-peer conflict, a whole range of things. So what we'd like to do today is talk about what's happening to war, and what the future of war looks like. Robert?

Robert D. Kaplan: Yes, I think one of the noticeable changes over the last few decades -- its gradual, it shifts back and forth but it's certainly a change -- is like, whereas in the past you had a relatively confined space with a lot of troops and equipment inside it, which is conventional, industrial war like tank battles in the Sinai in 1973, or in North Africa during World War II. We're going from a small space with a lot of combatants inside it to vast spaces that include immense Third World cities and deserts with small numbers of combatants hidden inside them. So whereas killing the enemy is easy, finding him is what's difficult. It's locating him that constitutes the real weapon of war, whereas in industrial war it was just a matter of killing the enemy at his chief point of concentration. This new century, we may still have major interstate industrial wars or naval battles, we don't know that yet. But at least for the past few decades, what most people define as unconventional war or guerrilla war or irregular war means a vast battle space with small numbers of combatants hiding inside that space.

George: I think one of the things that led to that transformation, is the transformation of mathematics in war, which was the introduction of precision-guided munitions, which actually was introduced in the 1970s -- first by the United States when they destroyed a critical bridge in Vietnam that they hadn’t been able to destroy for years, and then by the Egyptians and the Soviets, who sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat with a single precision-guided munition. It used to take thousands of bombs to knock out a target. That meant hundreds of planes at least, that meant large numbers of crews, steel factories, aluminum factories and so on and so forth. The industrial nature of war that you refer to really had a great deal to do with the imprecision of the rifle. It's said -- and I'm not sure it's true -- it's said that in the First World War it took 10,000 rounds of ammunition to kill one man. Perhaps. But it certainly was true that you had to have large numbers of weapons. With the introduction of precision-guided munitions, you began with 50 percent hit/kill ratios and it rose and rose until one plane with one piece of munition would be able to destroy the enemy. And therefore, you had the same lethality with one aircraft and with hundreds.

Robert: And we are seeing this especially in air war, because one of the things they say in the Air Force is "The less obtrusive we are, the less number of planes we have overhead, the more lethal we can actually be." Because with precision-guided munitions, guided by satellites or whatever they're guided by, you don't have to drop a lot of ordnance to do damage. A single drone firing a medium or small-sized projectile can do the same amount of damage as decades ago would take a whole wing of an air force to drop. But we haven’t seen it yet in naval war only because we haven’t had a real naval war. But if we do, we're going to see that repeat itself, perhaps.

George: Well, I think the next step is infantry war. But you know, it's interesting to me that during World War II, we had a thousand bomb raids over Germany, and it was morally complex but nobody objected to bombing Germany, or very few people -- of course, the Germans did. We now have this idea of the drone as somehow a singularly unique moral weapon, particularly evil. It strikes me as an ambiguous argument: Is it better to have World War II-style, thousand-bomber raids killing tens of thousands of people in order to destroy one factory, or to have an unmanned aircraft striking it? Precision has on the one hand offended people with an apparent callousness, which certainly is in the nature of war, but at the same time has the virtue that collateral damage -- which will always be part of war, you will always make massive mistakes -- have been reduced.

India: Defeating the Cruise Missile Threat

By Debalina Ghoshal
October 26, 2013

As India considers its threat environment, it must consider not just ballistic missiles, but also cruise missiles, such as those that might potentially be launched from Pakistan or China. These latter are far more difficult to detect and intercept than are ballistic missiles.

A cruise missile has been defined as a “weapon which automatically flies an essentially horizontal cruise flight profile for most of the duration of its flight between launch and its terminal trajectory to impact.” Land-attack cruise missiles further complicate the task of any defense system, since they can be terrain hugging and can also fly a circuitous trajectory.

In particular, Pakistan’s Babur and Raad cruise missiles represent a threat to India. Meanwhile, China’s cruise missile arsenal include the Seersucker, Silkworm, the ground launched DH-10 and the air-launched CJ-10, C-101 and HN series, to name a few. Some of China’s missiles are nuclear capable.

As it considers these weapons, one of the key questions that confronts New Delhi is whether it should opt solely for a cruise missile defense or also adopt a “deterrence by punishment” posture with the help of its own cruise missile arsenal. While a cruise missile defense could possibly intercept a subsonic cruise missile, it may be difficult to intercept supersonic cruise missiles and it is virtually impossible to intercept hypersonic cruise missiles. Although at present neither Pakistan nor China possess a hypersonic cruise missile, that could very well change. China already has supersonic cruise missiles such as the C-101 and C-301. Pakistan has also acquired the new CM-400 AKG, a supersonic cruise missile claimed to be hard to intercept because of its velocity.

For its part, India is currently working on a ballistic missile defense. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation is developing a defense system with two layers, with Advanced Air Defence (AAD) as the first layer and the two-stage Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) as the second layer. However, neither PAD nor AAD would be able to intercept cruise missiles.

Using anti-air missiles of various ranges, it may still be possible to intercept supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles (although intercepting land-attack missiles remains a Herculean task). France, for instance, has been able to intercept supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles using its Principal Anti-Air Missile System. For it to replicate the feat, India would need an effective command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. Even with that, intercepting hypersonic cruise missiles would very likely remain unrealistic. Moreover, missiles with low radar signatures make the job of any air or missile defense system that much more difficult. Any surface-to-air missiles used would need to be highly sophisticated, with high-power large aperture radars, although even that might not be enough to intercept incoming threats. India could hope to defeat air-launched cruise missiles by destroying the aircraft that carry them. However, both Pakistan and China are developing stealth technology that could make it difficult for India to locate and destroy the aircraft before they fire.

India: Governance now requires Fundamental Corrections

Paper No. 5586 Dated 22-Oct-3013
By A. K. Verma

Questions are being raised about the validity of democracy in the Indian Republic. There is a widespread view that democracy in India is no longer by the people, of the people, for the people.

The leaders who brought democracy to India in 1947 were giants in conviction, commitment, ethics and morality. There were many of them. Their tribe lingered for many years after independence but their numbers kept on diminishing. Today that tribe has vanished completely. Search as one might, not a single individual can be found qualifying for the citizen’s unquestioning acceptance as the leader of the nation.

Responsible for this sad state is the continuous growth of unscrupulous politics, degeneration of instruments of democracy and emergence of new elite, reliant on power of money, muscle and mafia, to monopolize the rewards of democracy. Today, no sense of shame is felt in claiming that compulsions of coalition politics require principles of probity to be jettisoned.

Practice of democracy fundamentally requires that democratic norms will be upheld and observed in all interactions at the citizen’s level. But it is ironic that while the Constitution has been amended to introduce democracy at the Panchayat level with multilateral political support, real inner party democracy eludes many political entities and very little support has emerged to secure this end.

The result is that politics in the country is becoming more and more dynastic. In the present Lok Sabha all the elected members in the age bracket 25 to 30 years are closely related to serving politicians. 50% of those in the age bracket of 31 to 50 years are similarly blessed. The fear is that if the trend continues, the Lok Sabha will become the monopoly of a few families in the years ahead. This will be a reversal of history of India getting rid of its Zamindars, Taluqdars, Rajas and Maharajas.

How representative are our parliamentarians of the citizens in whose name they enter the Lok Sabha and participate in the governing process? Most get elected if they can secure 20 to 30% votes of the electorate. Some manage to get into Lok Sabha with 10% or lesser votes in their favour. Electorate indifference has in the past been responsible for the phenomenon. The Election Commission has been doing an admirable job in educating citizens why they must exercise their rights of voting. But such education cannot disband the vote banks which flourish on caste and other extraneous considerations and which remains prize catches at election times.

All this has had a baneful effect on the quality of people who manage to enter the Lok Sabha. It has not been possible to prevent entry of a large number of persons facing criminal charges. Electoral reforms which would remedy the situation are not seeing the light of the day because no one can be expected to approve legislation which will disqualify him or her from getting elected to the legislature.

The fundamental function of the legislature is to legislate, debate foreign and domestic policies and ensure transparent governance for the benefit of the citizen. Unfortunately the jury is out whether such functions are indeed being performed. One sees a paralysis in action in the legislatures on key issues and a slide towards a greater collapse. The TV is conveying to one and all the images of daily disorder in the august chambers. The citizen is left to wonder whether this is the way to promote his interests and safeguard his security. He fears that the country is being pushed towards a grim future.

Recalibrate China strategy

27 October 2013

It's not easy living next door to Alice. China is not just any old power, but one that is knocking at the door of superpowerdom. If there was a time when India thought its own rise could present an alternative vision of political and economic development for the world, the last couple of years has put paid to such aspirations.

Having said that, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's China visit had its moments of quiet assertion. The border defence agreement may not prevent another Depsang-like incident, but it serves to enmesh China — Gulliver-like — in a web of confidence-building steps on a dis-puted boundary. The trans-border rivers pact does the same thing — though it took Singh's personal intervention to bring the Chinese around.

The tone of the visit was especially pleasant. The Chinese leadership rolled out befitting hospitality to a neighbouring leader who was doing a valedictory lap. It was probably a coincidence, but the last two summits between India and China have been preceded by acts of Indian assertiveness. Li Keqiang's visit in May was in danger when South Block told Beijing to step back from Depsang, or else.

Diplomats preparing for Singh's visit suddenly found they had to drop a big visa liberalisation agreement after India refused to go ahead with it as a protest against China giving stapled visas to two young archers from Arunachal Pradesh. Though China refu-ses to acknowledge India's protest, privately they were taken aback.

As China becomes a global power, its assertiveness and growing military might makes the Asia-Pacific region nervous. India's challenge lies in successfully hedging its bets on both ends of the spectrum. On the China end, India has quietly been building its own string of relationships along China's periphery. Japan is now India's closest strategic partner, next only to the US. India will be the first country to receive dual-use amphibious ships from Japan, which has a significance beyond the immediate.

India has overcome its neglect of Australia and a closer security relationship moored in the "Indo-Pacific" holds greater promise. South Korea has indicated its intention of upgrading a successful economic relationship into a more defence/strategic one, top of the agenda when Park Geun-Hye travels to India in January. Mongolia, despite being overshadowed by China, has reached out to India in ways which has not been reciprocated in any responsible manner. On the other hand, India is hesitant to get into multilateral alliances that target China. All along China's periphery, everyone is hedging, looking for alternatives, but with a hobbled economy and a catatonic political establishment, India is yet to be that choice.

India has been more welcoming of the US's "rebalance" to Asia, but at the back of the mind remains the memory of a "G-2". That complicates India's geopoli-tical choices vis-a-vis China.

The fundamental determinant of how India deals with China is what kind of a power China is likely to become. For most Indians, David Shambaugh's description of China finds resonance. China, he says, is a "narrow-minded self-interested, realist state, seeking only to maximise its own interests and power...Its economic policies are mercantilist and its diplomacy is passive. China is also a lonely strategic power... At the same time, China displays periodic evidence of being a dissatisfied, frustrated, aggrieved and an angry nation that seeks redress against those that have wronged it in the past or with which it has disagreements at present."

India’s Relations with China: The Good, the Bad and the (Potentially) Ugly

Later this month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to Beijing. The visit will cap a year that has been full of ups and downs in India’s relations with China. The tale of three trips is representative. One in May by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, his first abroad, was intended to signal the importance Beijing placed in the Sino-Indian relationship. But it took place in the aftermath of—and some would say was overshadowed by—a border standoff between the two countries’ militaries. In July, the Indian defense minister visited Beijing to rebuild trust and defense ties. Media coverage, however, focused on warnings to India issued by a PLA general, which Chinese officials had to rush to dismiss.

And Singh will be travelling from a country that is largely preoccupied domestically. When discussions do turn to China, they have focused on concerns about Indian capacity vis-à-vis that country, Indian politicians accusing the government of being soft on China and Chinese scholars labeling India’s border infrastructure upgrades as provocative. These and other developments have highlighted what Indian policymakers acknowledge—that there are elements of cooperation, competition and concern in the China-India relationship.

There have been good signs for those interested in stable, cooperative Sino-Indian relations. In the spring, just after he’d formally taken office, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a five-point formula to improve ties between the two countries. “Positive vibes” were detected at Xi’s subsequent meeting with Singh on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban in March. There have been numerous public Chinese declarations of the importance of the relationship—perhaps not seen since the first half of the 1950s. The Chinese ambassador to India unusually took to the editorial pages of an Indian newspaper to emphasize, “To strengthen good-neighbourly and friendly cooperation with India is China’s strategic choice and established policy which will not change.” Chinese officials have indicated that greater efforts should be made toward a boundary settlement. The two countries have strategic and economic dialogues in place. They restarted their defense dialogue earlier this year and are expected to resume joint military exercises shortly. China and India also have specialized dialogues on issues like Afghanistan, Central Asia and counterterrorism. The agreement to discuss Afghanistan was considered a departure from previous Chinese policy; Beijing had earlier been reluctant to add it to the agenda because it would have likely meant talking about Chinese ally Pakistan. Along with regional discussions, China and India have also cooperated in the multilateral realm, including on issues like trade and climate change.

Premier Li chose India as his first overseas stop, with the Chinese government indicating that the choice was very deliberate. Hosting an Indian youth delegation, Li put a personal spin on the choice, noting the “the seeds of friendship sown” when he visited India 27 years ago—a trip that he said left a “lasting impact.” During the May visit, he stressed the need to build trust and especially emphasized the economic benefits of greater ties.

Those economic ties have already grown. China is one of India’s largest trading partners. Bilateral trade in goods has gone from less than $3 billion in 2000 to $66.57 billion in 2012. While investments haven’t kept the same pace, they have also grown. In India, the interest in doing business with China is evident beyond the private sector and the central government—along with visits by a number of Indian CEOs, China has also seen visits from chief ministers of a number of Indians states, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Narendra Modi, current chief minister of the state of Gujarat and prime ministerial candidate for the forthcoming national election for the BJP (India’s largest opposition party), has also traveled to China. While Modi has expressed hawkish views on China on the geopolitical front, he has expressed admiration for that country’s economic achievements.

Myanmar To Import India-Developed Submarine Sonar Systems

By Ankit Panda
October 25, 2013

In a surprising initiative, India and Myanmar (also known as Burma) have concluded a deal that will see the sale and transfer of Indian-developed sonar and radar technology to the previously reclusive pariah state. The Hindu reports that India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) will be supplying the technology.

The Hindu cites India’s Scientific Adviser to the Defense Minister, Avinash Chander, as stating that the DRDO would be offering advanced sonar and radar technology for use in two diesel-electric Scorpène-class submarines being built at India’s Mazagon Dock shipyard. Additionally, the submarines will see integration with the DRDO’s air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems. According to The Hindu, "AIP systems play a vital role in considerably enhancing the underwater endurance of conventional diesel-electric submarines. Conventional submarines devoid of AIP are required to surface once in a few days to recharge their batteries, a process when they are most vulnerable to attacks. Scorpènes being French-origin submarines, the French had offered to install their MESMA AIP on the Indian Scorpènes."

Myanmar has historically been an important node in India’s Look-East Policy, and in recent years, India has ramped up its strategic ties to counter Chinese influence in Myanmar. Although, given its political heritage, Myanmar is far closer to China than to India, this defense deal could be an important catalyst for even closer ties between the South Asian neighbors. Recently, Myanmar and India have come close to a diplomatic resolution of certain outstanding border ambiguities. India has continuously engaged the Myanmar regime, and was pivotal in decreasing its international isolation, and concomitantly its reliance on China for strategic ballast. Myanmar and India also cooperate as members of the six-country Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC).

Since its independence, India has largely been dependent on arms imports for its own defense needs. As of 2013, India is the world’s largest arms importer. However, India has in recent years developed an impressive indigenous weapons-development capacity. Most famously, India’s DRDO, in conjunction with Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya, developed the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile–the world’s fastest operational cruise missile at speeds of up to Mach 3.0. India's domestic defense industry, according to global management consultancy McKinsey & Co., is expected to experience immense growth in coming years.

The Myanmar deal, beyond its strategic significance in the Sino-Indian struggle for influence, is indicative of a fundamentally novel approach in India’s indigenization of defense technology development. The DRDO will be participating in the upcoming Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in Seoul. According to Chander, India will be presenting its "Akash surface-to-air missile, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and Pragati surface-to-surface missile to the exhibition.” India’s domestic strategic community has long-suggested that India’s top strategic prerogative should be to attain a robust indigenous capacity to develop weapons technology that can both be used in national defense, and be exported; this deal indicates a bold step in that direction.

Energising India-Japan relations

Monday, 28 October 2013 | Girish Sethi

Energy security and global environment are high priority challenges for both India and Japan. They require continuous and effective action. Both sides need to deepen their technology cooperation, given that both are fuel-guzzling countries

Energy is one of the most important inputs for economic growth and human development. At the same time, the human development story has put a massive strain on the ecology of the planet due to an overuse of fossil fuel-based forms of energy to drive growth and development. The 2011 natural calamity at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan underlined the urgency required for investing in clean and renewable forms of energy.

Japan has been widely recognised as an energy-efficient nation; it’s a pioneer in achieving high levels of energy efficiency in their manufacturing operations. It is a leader among the major industrialised nations in promoting efficient use of energy and has the lowest energy consumption per unit of GDP when compared with the US, France and Germany (Japan: 0.11, US: 0.17). The experience of Japan in the area of energy conservation and renewable energy provides enormous opportunities for India to learn and adopt. For example, iron and steel is one of the key energy-intensive industrial sectors, both in India and Japan. With a voluntary action programme initiated way back in the 90s, the Japanese steel industry was able to bring down its specific energy consumption (energy required to produce one tonne of steel) to one of the lowest in the world.

In this context, it is important to mention that the two Governments initiated collaborative activities recently and have now come up with at least 17 different sets of technologies that the Indian industry can adopt. These have been arrived at based on various public and private collaborative meetings between the Indian and the Japanese iron and steel industry.

Similar options exist in many other sectors like cement, food processing, appliances, solar energy etc in various sectors of the Indian economy.

The Japanese and Indian Governments are implementing another project that aims to promote energy efficiency in the Indian small and medium enterprises sector through demonstration of energy efficient and innovative cross-cutting technologies that have not been tried out yet in India.

The project is being coordinated by Japan Science and Technology Agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Union Ministry of Environment & Forests. It is implemented in India by The Energy and Resources Institute and selected SMEs, in collaboration with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan, Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Engineering, and select Japanese suppliers of low carbon technologies.

By deploying a strategy that directly involved businesses on both supply and demand sides (Japanese LCT supplier and Indian SMEs) along with capacity building support, the project has successfully demonstrated electric heat pump technology in two dairy units in India; and gas heat pump technology in two foundries in the Rajkot engineering cluster. These LCTs are yielding energy savings of 30 per cent-50 per cent.

Emails show Headley had inside info on 26/11

Press Trust Of India : New Delhi, Mon Oct 28 2013

Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley, who played a key role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, boasted to his former schoolmates that the assault was "retaliation" for alleged excesses by foreign forces in Afghanistan and Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir, according to a new book by a Danish journalist.

A week after the attacks by Lashkar-e-Toiba cadres killed 166 people, Headley's posts on an email group frequented by former students of the Cadet College Hasan Abdal indicated he had inside information about the incident, said journalist Kaare Sorensen.

"In the emails he sent after the Mumbai attacks, he never ever said he was directly involved. But he hinted that he had information that others did not have," Sorensen said.

"Our opinion here is that the casualties in Mumbai should really be taken as Collateral Damage from the Daisy cutters that have been falling in Afghanistan as well as the over 70,000 dead in Kashmir over the last 20 years...," Headley, the son of a Pakistani broadcaster and an American socialite, wrote in the email.

"He was always bragging, building up his ego in the emails," said Sorensen, who accessed 9,000 emails shared in the 'abdalians7479' group, including more than 300 written by Headley.

Headley also talked about 10 LeT cadres, including Ajmal Kasab, who were involved in the attacks, referring to them as "kids". He wrote: "As you can see that more than 500 commandos had a hard time containing 10 kids."

"Yes, they were only 10 kids, guaranteed. I hear 3 of the kids were Hafiz (those who memorised the Quran) and 2 were married with a daughter each under 3 years old," he added.

Such details, Sorensen said, made it clear Headley had information about the attack.

A patch-up to keep it going

Seema Sirohi

AP THE BOTTOM LINE: What the Americans want is the use of Pakistan routes to bring out their troops and heavy equipment from Afghanistan. What the Pakistanis want is a promise of togetherness after 2014.

President Obama seems to understand Pakistan’s double game on terrorism, but is unwilling to deal with it upfront, at least not at this time

There is always a “good” reason for slipping back to business-as-usual in U.S.-Pakistan relations. This time it is America’s need to buy Pakistan’s cooperation for a safe exit from Afghanistan. And Pakistan’s need to break out of its isolation.

The Obama Administration, as many others before it, has proved that on Pakistan, hope always trumps reality and the “magnificent delusions” endure. The cost, meanwhile, keeps rising.

The invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Washington was part of a fine orchestration of expectations and delivery. Sudden munificence — $1.16 billion in U.S. aid, to be precise — hitherto withheld because relations had deteriorated alarmingly, was unclogged. Once Mr. Sharif landed, various Cabinet members were lined up to host him for lunch and dinner. Michelle Obama met Kalsoom Sharif for tea, and a poetry reading session at the White House.

Modern and moderate mantra

The leitmotif of the visit: emphasise the positive, ignore the deception, desperately seek areas of common interest and keep it going. At the end of the day, Pakistan, with its expanding arsenal of nuclear weapons and jihadi outfits, can’t be cut loose from the tether of international moorings. The rest is window-dressing.

The two sides succeeded to some extent in shifting the trajectory from the downward spiral of 2011-12 to a more stable one. The visit was designed to support the new mantra of a “modern and moderate” Pakistan. The Americans restarted the Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan, promised to help with the energy sector, and in general agreed to support Mr. Sharif’s “trade, not aid” dream.

Drone strikes

While President Barack Obama was cordial and effusive on the economic front, he didn’t budge on drone strikes, an issue that Mr. Sharif repeatedly complained about during the visit. Apart from regulation nods to finding “constructive ways” to work together that respect “Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Mr. Obama made no promises either to end or even curtail the drone strikes. In other words, if Pakistan can’t deal with terrorists operating from its territory, the U.S. will.

Divided they stand

Bruce Riedel : Mon Oct 28 2013

Obama and Sharif have differences, but cooperation will be key to Afghan stability.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Washington and his meeting with President Barack Obama reopened lines of communication broken over the last few years by drones and commando raids. The atmospherics were good; the two had a longer than planned one-on-one. But the visit produced no breakthroughs in what has become an increasingly dysfunctional relationship. The United States and Pakistan are more opponents than allies, but it is important to keep the lines of communication open and Sharif's visit will provide a base for future efforts to find common areas of cooperation, especially as the situation in Afghanistan clarifies in 2014.

A decade ago, George W. Bush embraced Pervez Musharraf as America's top ally in the war against terror. In the years that followed, Bush and Obama provided Pakistan with over $25 billion in military and economic aid, including 18 F-16 jet fighters and a Perry Class frigate. The goal was to fight al-Qaeda. Only Israel got more aid from America in the last decade.

In practice, however, America and its NATO allies are fighting

a proxy war with Pakistan in Afghanistan. Washington, backed by the United Nations, supports the Karzai government while Islamabad backs Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban. A secret NATO report leaked last year, titled "The State of the Taliban", held that Pakistan and the ISI are the critical patrons of the Taliban insurgency. According to over 27,000 interrogations of captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, the ISI not only provides safe haven, sanctuary and funds for the Taliban, its officers meet regularly to plan strategy against the NATO with Omar's Quetta Shura. Without ISI help, the Taliban would not be the force they are today.

Sharif backed the Afghan Taliban the last time he was in office and rebuffed repeated US requests to try to end its support for al-Qaeda. This year, he has promised to try to encourage the Taliban to come to the peace table with Kabul. Releases of Taliban commanders, arrested in the past because they wanted dialogue, have been carefully staged to give an appearance of substance to the effort. Washington has every reason to encourage Pakistan to use its enormous leverage with the Taliban to open a dialogue with Kabul.

So far, it all looks more like subterfuge than reality. It is far from clear that the prime minister has the clout to control the ISI and the army in their dealings with the Taliban. Obama heard positive words about reconciliation from Sharif; the proof will be if the Taliban sit down with Karzai's peace team. Don't hold your breath.

China: Superpower or Superbust?

November 1, 2013

AS IF a global financial-market meltdown, the deepest U.S. recession in seventy years, an existential crisis in the euro zone and upheaval in the Middle East hadn’t already created enough trouble for one decade, now the unrest and anxiety have extended to some of the world’s most attractive emerging markets. Just in the past few months, we’ve seen a rough ride for India’s currency, furious nationwide protests in Turkey and Brazil, antigovernment demonstrations in Russia, strikes and violence in South Africa, and an ominous economic slowdown in all these countries.

Adding to the uncertainty, as the carnage and confusion in Syria remind us, is the fact that there is no longer a single country or durable alliance of countries both willing and able to exercise consistent global leadership. The Obama administration and congressional Republicans don’t want to alienate a war-weary U.S. public by spending blood in the Middle East or treasure in Europe. Europe’s leaders have their hands full with the euro zone. And though the governments of emerging markets want a more prominent international voice, they face far too many tests at home to welcome new responsibilities abroad. Because no one is providing predictable leadership, international problems are more likely to become crises in the years to come, and the world’s wildfires will burn longer and hotter.

WITH THIS in mind, it is all the more remarkable that there’s been so little noise from China, especially since the rising giant has experienced a once-in-a-decade leadership transition, slowing growth and a show trial involving one of the country’s best-known political personalities—all in just the past few months. Given that Europe and America, China’s largest trade partners, are still struggling to recover their footing, growth is slowing across much of the once-dynamic developing world, and the pace of economic and social change within China itself is gathering speed, it’s easy to wonder if this moment is merely the calm before China’s storm.

Don’t bet on it. For the moment, China is more stable and resilient than many realize, and its political leaders have the tools and resources they need to manage a cooling economy and contain the unrest it might provoke. This is a country that has come a long way in a remarkably short time. It is now home to the world’s second-largest economy, one bigger than those of its fellow BRICS countries (India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa) combined. In 1977, China accounted for just 0.6 percent of global trade; in 2012, it became the world’s largest trading nation. Today, 124 countries count China as their largest trade partner, compared to just seventy-six for the United States. China is expected to become the world’s largest energy importer later this year, and it’s already the leading carbon emitter, automobile market and smartphone market. Roughly six hundred million of its citizens are now online. All this success has earned the leadership considerable credit with China’s people.

The fact that China has so far avoided the unrest and uncertainty plaguing so many other countries these days is good news for those who depend on China’s strength for the stability of their own economies, but it is bad news for those who hope that China’s leaders will soon begin to adopt new attitudes toward global politics and market-driven capitalism. Outsiders, particularly Americans, have called on China to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system and have wished aloud that as its economy depends more heavily on investment in countries and companies in every region of the world, it would begin to behave as a global partner, one that privileges peace and predictability above all else. There is little evidence that this is happening. Beijing continues to limit its involvement in most international disputes to calculated moves to protect its various commercial interests and to diplomatic efforts to blunt U.S. influence and extend its own.

Xia Yeliang: The China Americans Don't See

By David Feith
Oct. 25, 2013 

A Peking University economics professor who was sacked for his political views explains the underside of elite Chinese higher education.

The 21st-century romance between America's universities and China continues to blossom, with New York University opening a Shanghai campus last month and Duke to follow next year. Nearly 100 U.S. campuses host "Confucius Institutes" funded by the Chinese government, and President Obama has set a goal for next year of seeing 100,000 American students studying in the Middle Kingdom. Meanwhile, Peking University last week purged economics professor Xia Yeliang, an outspoken liberal, with hardly a peep of protest from American academics.

Human Rights Watch Director of Global Initiatives Minky Worden on China's latest human rights hypocrisy. Photo: Getty Images

"During more than 30 years, no single faculty member has been driven out like this," Mr. Xia says the day after his sacking from the university, known as China's best, where he has taught economics since 2000. He'll be out at the end of the semester. The professor's case is a window into the Chinese academic world that America's elite institutions are so eager to join—a world governed not by respect for free inquiry but by the political imperatives of a one-party state. Call it higher education with Chinese characteristics.

"All universities are under the party's leadership," Mr. Xia says by telephone from his Beijing home. "In Peking University, the No. 1 leader is not the president. It's the party secretary of Peking University."

Which is problematic for a professor loudly advocating political change. In 2008, Mr. Xia was among the original 303 signatories of the Charter 08 manifesto calling for democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law in China. "Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises," declared the charter, written primarily by Mr. Xia's friend Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate who is currently serving an 11-year prison term for "inciting subversion of state power."

China's Coming Economic Slowdown

By Josef Joffe
Oct. 25, 2013

History shows that every economic miracle eventually loses its magic. How much longer can China sustain such astounding growth?

The big question of the 20th century has not disappeared in the 21st: Who is on the right side of history? Is it liberal democracy, with power growing from the bottom up, hedged in by free markets, the rule of law, accountability and the separation of powers? Or is it despotic centralism in the way of Stalin and Hitler, the most recent, though far less cruel, variant being the Chinese one: state capitalism plus one-party rule?

The demise of communism did not dispatch the big question; it only laid it to rest for a couple of decades. Now the spectacular rise of China and the crises of the democratic economies—bubbles and busts, overspending and astronomical debt—have disinterred what seemed safely buried in a graveyard called "The End of History," when liberal democracy would triumph everywhere. Now the dead have risen from their graves, strutting and crowing. And many in the West are asking: Isn't top-down capitalism, as practiced in the past by the Asian "dragons" (South Korea, Taiwan, Japan) and currently by China, the better road to riches and global muscle than the muddled, self-stultifying ways of liberal democracy?

Workers at the Innovation Fulfillment Center at the Foxconn factory complex in Shenzen, 2010. China's cost advantage is already plummeting; average wages have quadrupled since 2000. 

The rise-of-the-rest school assumes that tomorrow will be a remake of yesterday—that it is up, up, and away for China. Yet history bids us to be wary. Rapid growth characterized every "economic miracle" in the past. It started with Britain, the U.S. and Germany in the 19th century, and it continued with Japan, Taiwan, Korea and West Germany after World War II. But none of them managed to sustain the wondrous pace of the early decades, and all of them eventually slowed down. They all declined to a "normal" rate as youthful exuberance gave way to maturity. What is "normal"? For the U.S., the average of the three decades before the crash of 2008 was well above 3%. Germany came down from 3% to less than 2%. Japan declined from 4.5% to 1.2%.

What rises comes down and levels out as countries progress from agriculture and crafts to manufacturing and thence to a service and knowledge economy. In the process, the countryside empties out and no longer provides a seemingly limitless reservoir of cheap labor. As fixed investment rises, its marginal return declines, and each new unit of capital generates less output than the preceding one. This is one of the oldest laws of economics: the law of diminishing returns.

What China can learn from USSR’s fall

Those of us who lived and worked as diplomats and foreign correspondents in Moscow in the final years of the era of Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s are bound to carry a life-long intellectual curiosity about the dialectics of reform and democratic transition in authoritarianpolitical systems. This partly explains, speaking for myself, the curiosity I have about the prospects of how China is going to make the grade. 

In China itself, the most frequent comparison being drawn is with the Gorbachev era of Soviet history and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. I say ‘dissolution’ deliberately because it was a conscious, unilateral, personal act by Boris Yeltsin that had no inevitability about it. The ‘dissolution’ suited Yeltsin. Period. He didn’t consult others seriously nor would his peer group in the former Soviet republics have agreed. 

Thus, to begin with, the comparison with the Soviet experience is a flawed one, empirically speaking. There was no ‘Soviet fall’ as such, as the Chinese discourses keep imagining. In the last Party Congress, the new Chinese leadership openly spoke about it. The debate continues, especially now that the crucial 3rd “plenum” of the CCP is due to take place in November with the focus on reform in its agenda. 

In August, Xinhua carried a commentary on this topic by one Wang Xiaoshi (a pseudonym, presumably), which triggered a lot of excitement in China and abroad. The main argument was that Gorbachev provided “weak” leadership and, thus, the reform got out of control. It took the view that the post-Soviet turmoil in Russia in the early 1990s should be an “alarming warning” for China as to what all terrible things can happen if China were to descend into unrest or anarchy. 

Interestingly, it negatively portrays Yeltsin’s legacy of democratizing Russia for the first time in history, while commending Vladimir Putin’s achievements in steering the country toward “prosperity” without losing sleep over “democratization”, although as a diminished power on the world stage. 

Again, the Chinese communist party tabloid Global Times today featured an interview with the famous Soviet dissident historian Roy Medvedev drawing on the ‘lessons’ of the Soviet experience. He more or less endorses the thinking that seems to be going down well in China, namely, China should be wary about stepping the pedal on political reform and should confine itself to economic reforms.

Yes, by all means, focus on economic reforms at the forthcoming “Plenum”, but for God’s sake leave alone democratization, let time and tide work on it — that’s roughly what Medvedev says. It will be what China wants to hear.

I am surprised. Medvedev could and should have pointed out that the comparison between Soviet Union and China — except the notional one that both were ’socialist’ countries in name — is not quite in order. Even if Gorbachev wanted to practice the Chinese example of economic reform and leave ‘glasnost’ on the back burner, it wouldn’t have worked for him. That’s the honest truth. 

The point is, China’s economic growth could be so dynamic primarily because it could exploit ‘globalization’, whereas, the Soviet Union lived in an altogether different world, despised by the West and disowned by much of the East. It was ostracized. 

Do not forget that the West boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The remnants of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment still haunt the Russian-American relations. Thus, the latitude from the ‘international community’ that China enjoyed through the 1970s and 80s and the 90s and into the post-cold war era in optimally exploiting the opening up of its economy was a luxury not available for Gorbachev. 

Second, there was no way the stagnant Soviet system could have been energized other than by churning up the cesspool, which was what Gorbachev’s ‘glasnost’ intended. As he once plaintively put it, the Soviet manager was like a bird afraid to fly and take to the skies although the cage was open. 

Also, Medvedev is partial in saying that the alienation of the Soviet citizen with the system began with Gorbachev. To my mind, Gorbachev inherited the crisis of credibility of the Soviet communist party.

Clearly one full decade before the era Gorbachev, in 1975 when I first arrived in the Soviet Union to work in the embassy in Moscow as a diplomat, the thing that struck me was the profound disconnect between the Soviet system and the Soviet citizen and how the citizen enveloped himself with a surreal world dripping with cynicism. 

It came as a shock to me, frankly, because this was not what I had expected. (By the way, I am not sure if the phenomenon of Soviet cynicism ended even with the dissolution of the Soviet system. Who were the ‘oligarchs’?) 

A third major difference is the nature of the Chinese economy, which is vastly unlike the Soviet (and Russian) economy that is critically dependent on the income from oil exports. It’s useful to remember that probably Gorbachev wouldn’t have had to go down on his knees and beg for financial bailout from the West if the oil was selling at, say, $15 per barrel instead of $8 at that critical point. 

Again, Soviet Union had no manufacturing industry churning out export products for the world market. To add to it, the Soviet Union carried the burdens of ‘proletarian internationalism’ — wheat flour and oil for Najibullah’s socialist government in Afghanistan and so on. 

China, on the other hand, has preferred to call itself a ‘developing country’, which absolves it of the need to be a net provider for humanity. China is not promoting socialism abroad, either. In fact, it clinically makes sure that it almost always puts its surplus money only where the mouth is — be it in Africa or in Sri Lanka. 

Again, something must be said about the ’social formation’. The USSR was way ahead of China in social development and even now Russia has a far higher standard of living than what the Chinese people have in per capita terms. The point is, the human mind needs to be motivated. 

The well-educated, intellectually aware Soviet citizen wouldn’t have settled for what passes for economic reform. This is where China is enjoying an advantage. But what happens when the social development in China progresses and expectations begin to rise and, of course, if the market is to be genuinely unleashed? 

I happened to live and work in Seoul in the late 1970 and early 1980s. As the society began to get better educated, more prosperous, more opinionated, the old paradigm failed to work — namely, that as long as the regime performed on the economic front and as long as the export-oriented growth strategy worked, politics would be irrelevant. 

I witnessed the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in October 1979 (father of the incumbent democratically-elected president Park Geun-hye) and the bloody ‘Kwangju incident’ in May 1980. In retrospect, they were the birth pangs of democracy in South Korea. 

China cannot benefit much out of studying the Soviet Union’s fall — except, perhaps, the perils of a new Cold War. All said, Soviet Union formed part of the western intellectual tradition, whereas, China’s historical consciousness and cultural moorings are vastly different. Which is, arguably, why the West sets a much higher bar of democracy for Russia today than what it is willing to settle for China. For a historian, Medvedev’s interview is disappointing. Read it here

U.S.-China: The Limits of Engagement

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By Joanna Yu Taylor and Harry Kazianis
October 26, 2013

In a recent article in the distinguished journal Foreign Affairs, respected China scholar Avery Goldstein argues that the best way to advance the U.S.-China dialogue is for America to “deepen political and military exchanges that focus closely on” crisis management and policy coordination. In fact, the U.S. is already trying to do this. The real challenge is understanding the limitations of such interaction – especially on the Chinese side. 

Each year, the U.S. Department of Defense holds a dialogue on military matters with China’s People’s Liberation Army, while the State Department also conducts its own talks on arms control and nonproliferation with their Chinese counterparts. Both dialogues are held at the under secretary level. Additionally, the deputy secretary of State leads an interagency Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD) to discuss sensitive issues such as cyber security, missile defense, nuclear policy and maritime security. SSD, of course, is part of the annual “whole-of-government” forum, where the secretaries of State and the Treasury engage their Chinese counterparts on broader political and economic issues.

Simply put, there is no lack of high-level communication. The problem is, as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. If Beijing chooses not to engage in substantive discussion during important dialogues, which is most often the case, the U.S. is essentially stuck. Considering the broad array of tensions in the U.S.-China relationship, one can only draw the conclusion that such dialogues must be considered a crucial opportunity for both sides to share important points of disagreement, advance critical areas of mutual interest and benefit, and build important senior-level relationships that can be called upon in a crisis. Yet, only one side seems consistently vested in such an interaction.

It is a matter of perspective. Whereas Washington sees dialogue as essential to the relationship, Beijing seems to see dialogue as a function of the relationship. The U.S. asks, “What can we discuss” and formulates a list of options. China asks, “Do we want to have a discussion?” and weighs a yes/no response.

It is not that China does not value bilateral relations; it is just that Beijing values more those singular issues (such as U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, European leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama, or the Norwegian Nobel Committee supporting human rights causes in China) that seemed to thwart the bilateral relationship.

Why is China Isolating Japan and the Philippines?

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By Zachary Keck
October 26, 2013

One of the more curious aspects of China’s greater assertiveness in recent years has been its comprehensiveness.

Historically Chinese leaders have pursued a divide and conquer policy towards their neighbors, and with great success. Over the last year or two, however, China has seemingly tangled with just about anyone and everyone (arguably excluding Russia and Pakistan). In certain cases, like the incident last year where it issued new visas that sported an expansive map of China on it, Beijing has simultaneously angered most of its neighbors with a single, pointless action.

The results have been all too predictable: China’s neighbors have increasingly banded together in an attempt to offset Beijing’s superior power. Thus, we’ve witnessed developments like India’s Look East policy finally gaining some traction, while Japan has greatly expanded its influence in ASEAN. At the same time, China's neighbors have increasingly courted external powers to assist them in their efforts to balance its rise.

Over the last couple of months China has begun walking back this policy. Thus, Xi Jinping and China’s top leaders have revamped their predecessor’s smile diplomacy in places like Central and Southeast Asia. They have also courted India after repeatedly provoking it earlier in the year. Even relations with the U.S. have gradually improved, as is evident from the growing military-to-military ties between the two powers.

Two nations that have been pointedly excluded from China’s charm offensive are the Philippines and Japan. Beijing has made it a point of maintaining tensions with them and rejected overtures from their respective leaders.

This is generally in line with a “divide-and-conquer” strategy. Nevertheless, it raises the obvious question of why Chinese leaders have decided to retain tensions with the Philippines and Japan while improving them with other countries, even those it maintains territorial disputes with such as Vietnam and India.

There are a number of possibilities. With regards to Japan at least, Chinese scholars have noted that Beijing views the outstanding dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands as qualitatively different from its other territorial disputes. As Fudan University’s Shen Dingli has explained, “For the East China Sea, it is more political. China considers we have been invaded by Japan, and Japan has stolen our island. But for South China Sea, it’s largely about economics.” Still, this can only explain why China has targeted Japan, not the Philippines.

The US Is Quietly Losing Its Innovation Edge to China

By Yanzhong Huang
October 27, 2013

I am not a supporter of the faddish idea that America is in decline. Despite all the hullabaloo about the rise of China, the United States still boasts the most formidable military force and the largest, most innovative economy. But as a student of international studies, I am keenly aware that the rise and fall of great nations are often associated with significant historical events. It is hard to deny that the 2008 financial crisis exposed the Achilles’ heel in our economy and accelerated the shift in the international power balance. This month, the self-inflicted U.S. government shutdown highlighted the partisanship and immobilism in our political system and undermined our ability to engage with the outside world. China for example lost no time in questioning U.S. global leadership, urging all emerging countries to consider building of a “de-Americanized world.” At the same time, an OECD report forecast that China will overtake the United States in 2016 to become the world’s largest economy.

One might argue that these developments do not represent a permanent setback to U.S. global leadership – after all, we continue to enjoy unrivaled advantage in the ability to innovate, a critical pillar of U.S. superpower status. Since the mid-19th century, the United States has been the engine of almost all the major technological advancements. Indeed, nine of the eleven 2013 Nobel Prize winners in science and economics are U.S.-based. In a 2012 article, Gary Shapiro attributes the U.S. strength in innovation to “[a] can-do attitude, a free marketsystem that rewards savvy risk takers[,] an education system that encourages questions rather than rote learning [, and a] First Amendment that promotes different views without government censorship.” In contrast, any major innovation efforts in China have to struggle with a social-political system that supports censorship and corruption, and suppresses curiosity and creativity. The miraculous economic growth in China, to paraphrase Paul Krugman, was largely the result of perspiration (manufacturing capacity) rather than inspiration (technology innovation). Take Chinese pharmaceutical industry: despite the size of Chinese pharmaceutical exports – averaging $67 billion annually – virtually none of the revenue is derived from truly innovative products. Up until 2007, roughly 97 percent of chemicals produced in China were generic, and only two drugs—artemisinin and dimercaprol—were developed domestically.

The past decade, however, has witnessed the rapid erosion of the financial and institutional underpinnings of innovation in the United States. Our free market system rewards risk takers at the expense of the general public, many of our politicians (and the political system itself) seem to have lost their ability to be effective, and our kids lag globally in math and science. Simply, we have been increasingly unable to innovate, compete, and get things done. As Tom Friedman observed, “too many of our poll-driven, toxically partisan, cable-TV-addicted, money-corrupted political class are more interested in what keeps them in power than what would again make America powerful, more interested in defeating each other than saving the country.”

The sapped U.S. strength in innovation is epitomized by the NIH research funding trends. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of applications increased from nearly 35,000 to more than 51,000, while NIH appropriations shrunk from $21 billion to $16 billion (in 1995 dollars). As a consequence, it has become increasingly difficult for our scientists to garner an NIH grant. Overall application success rates fell from 32 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2012. This is particularly bad news for the new applicants, most of whom are young scientists who are at their most productive age and are most in need of grant support: not only have the number of research project grants dropped in absolute numbers, but the success rates for first-time award recipients has dropped from 22 percent to 13 percent.