10 November 2013

China: Some Questions

IssueNet Edition| Date : 09 Nov , 2013

Indian and Chinese troops train together

The fact that the media is government paid and government controlled in Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is no secret. It is convenient since then the population, particularly the youth can be fed what the CCP wants to feed them. The information explosion and social networking has upset all that though no stone is left unturned to curb even that. So there is no wonder that anything in foreign media, including Indian media, which is not in tune with what the CCP wants to feed the population is not taken kindly.

This may come as a surprise to you as unlike China, our media is not paid by the government and so there is freedom to write what one feels, particularly in blogs.

In the above context, I received a communication titled ‘some questions’ from a serving PLA scholar I had met during an international seminar last year. The scholar claimed to have read an article of mine, deduced it was very very hostile to China, wanted to know why and also forwarded a set of four questions seeking response that would help in the scholar’s research. Replying to the insinuation of “very very hostile to China”, my response was thus – I have authored some 350 articles and two books since I retired in end November 2009 and many of these on subject other than China are much more critical of my own country on many issues. You would agree that if I was a Chinese national and criticized my own country in similar fashion, I would be in jail or probably done away with. This may come as a surprise to you as unlike China, our media is not paid by the government and so there is freedom to write what one feels, particularly in blogs. I believe in writing bluntly since I believe it is through criticism that points for improvement can emerge. There is no hostility or animosity that I nurture towards China. For my son’s wedding in November 2011, I had invited Vice Chairman of a prominent Think Tank in Beijing. When I extended the invitation to him verbally while visiting Beijing earlier in that year, he was taken aback, surprised and he asked me, “Does this mean you consider me a friend?” I was equally surprised by this question and my response was, “Of course I do.”

Perhaps he thought I was joking but then I sent him a formal invitation after returning to India. Closer to the wedding I received a telephone call from China’s Assistant Military Attaché in New Delhi that the Vice Chairman of the Think Tank in question thanked me but was unable to attend, and whether the Military Attaché can attend and represent him. I confirmed this. Later I received another telephone call asking whether the Assistant Military Attaché can also attend. I again confirmed both are welcome along with anyone else. They both did come and attended the wedding. I don’t think I would have done so if I nurtured any hostility towards China and I don’t think many military personnel posted at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi would have received invitations on personal level to attend an Indian wedding, if at all.

National Interest: Conscience and cowardice

Shekhar Gupta : Sat Nov 09 2013

For all those who urge him to boycott CHOGM, PM has an effective reply: his oath of office.

Before the prime minister decides — if there is still room for a decision — whether he should go to Colombo for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) or not, he needs to remember the weeks leading up to the election five years ago in the summer of 2009.

Sri Lankan army's total offensive against the LTTE, initiated in January that year, was peaking in April-May. Think about some crucial dates. May 13 was the polling day in Tamil Nadu. May 16 was the day all election results were announced. On exactly the same date, May 16, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced at the G-11 meeting in Jordan that the LTTE had been defeated and he would be returning to his country as "leader of a nation that has crushed terrorism".

Exactly two days later, on May 18, the Sri Lankan army announced the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Now nobody is so naive as to believe in serial coincidences. And surely none of those who know better. These include the prime minister, all his key aides then and now, and M. Karunanidhi and J. Jayalalithaa. And if any of the Tamil members of the Union cabinet, including the prime minister's latest pen-friends, say they had no idea what was going on, they are either delusional or hypocrites or liars. Or all of these.

Everybody in Tamil politics now spitting such fire, demanding that India should say that Sri Lanka is not even a civilised state, knows the truth of the summer of 2009, when the atrocities we are now complaining about took place. Many of them were more than willing participants and complicit either in deed or in conscious denial. All Tamil parties made token noises. The DMK threatened to break away from the UPA routinely, but did not. Karunanidhi sat on a fast "unto death" demanding a ceasefire, but declared victory six and a half hours later, effectively in time for his next meal, as P. Chidambaram stated that the Sri Lankans would not use any heavy weapons. Jayalalithaa, who had in the past repeatedly called the LTTE a terrorist organisation and had demanded that it be crushed, now belatedly supported the idea of Eelam in one odd speech, asked for Indian military intervention, but stopped there. She did not even miss one meal to at least get even with Karunanidhi. And what about the Tamil voter? The most pro-Eelam Indian leader who went to the polls with Sri Lankan Tamils as his solitary issue, Vaiko in Virudhunagar, was thrashed by a still green-behind-the-ears Congressman, Manicka Tagore, by 15,764 votes.

Jayalalithaa asked for the Indian armed forces to intervene. Which they were doing, if not in the way she had wanted them to. They, along with RAW, were working quietly to help the Sri Lankan effort. Early enough in the campaign, the IAF had despatched two homemade Indra (phased array) radars to help counter some Czech-origin aircraft that the LTTE was said to have acquired. In fact, two IAF technicians were injured in September 2008 in an LTTE attack on a radar site in Vavuniya. During the final phases of the battle, Indian surveillance satellites were sweeping the region, providing precise locations, coordinates and pictures. The Indian navy's Dorniers were on regular reconnaissance missions to detect LTTE ships and cargo. Fast attack boats were deployed to block any escapees, thereby fully shutting the trap. And I cannot say this with absolute certainty yet, as there will be conflicting claims and denials as time passes, but you should have good reason to believe that the cornering and killing of Prabhakaran was made possible by specific surveillance and satellite information given by India. India's then national security advisor, M.K. Narayanan, who had suffered his career's worst setback at the hands of the

India shouldn’t get into Pak-Taliban-US huddle

Saturday, 09 November 2013 | Swarn Kumar Anand | in Oped
Source Link

While the Pakistan Army and the Nawaz Sharif government seem to be on the same page pursuing the illusive peace with TTP, we need to be more careful as this ‘peace’ pursuit will only aid to our ‘imported’ terror woes

The assassination of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike at a time when both the government and the military leadershipshowed rare consensus to pursue peace with the TTP has thrown a new challenge for the region. The incident is vital on three counts — first, its impact on the pace and direction of the Pakistan-Taliban peace talks; second, increasing pressure on Nawaz Sharif to perform a balancing act between anti-Americanism and improving the US-Pakistan relations; and third, implications for India, which is already struggling to make a workable strategy for the post-Nato Afghanistan. The first two have generated lots of opinions around the world, but the Indian perspective has been generally ignored, as indeed, there is no immediate impact on India.

But if we visualise a situation in the west of India in 2014, when the US-led Nato forces are planning to make an exit from Afghanistan, the ramifications for India will be enormous. As the Obama Administration looks to be in a tearing hurry to throw Afghanistan to the proverbial wolves, Pakistan, and pushing for negotiations with Taliban, which gave safe havens to 9/11 masterminds Al-Qaeda, there must a grave concerns for New Delhi about Islamabad cashing in on the reconciliation process in way that jeopardises our interests in the region. Moreover, Pakistan’s cosying up to Taliban will result in consolidation of the latter’s position and export of terrorism to India.

(Non)-State actors

Pakistan has never been well disposed towards its eastern neighbour since its inception, particularly after India’s successful effort in the creation of Bangladesh. Coming to terms with the bitter truth after their successive loss of face in three wars, the Pakistan Army and the ISI are now waging a proxy war against India, as it not only gives them excuses to hide behind the so-called non-state actors, it is also cost effective.

It has a long history of creating disturbances in India. And sadly they have able to influence some Indian youths to wage war against their own country. For example, Pakistan treated their Sikh citizens badly but managed to egg on the Indian Panjabi youth to rise against India for Khalistan. In Pakistani writings, Sikhs were termed barbaric, and their venerated gurus were ridiculed. But it goes to ISI credit that they could attract some members of Sikh community fight against their own country.

China’s people have great expectations of the forthcoming reforms, writes

FOLLOWING THE CHINESE DREAM
Shyamal Datta

My current visit to China has, so far, been extremely educative in terms of the effort to find out what China is all about. Visits to places in and around Beijing, the interaction with sections of local people from different walks of life and an avid reading of newspapers, magazines and other published material helped provide a limited understanding of the finer nuances in the thinking of the establishment and people and the working of the systems. The process has been exhilarating.

Communist China is very much a happening place. Never has there been a dull moment with the media, both print and electronic, reporting 24X7, developments including the latest jihadi suicide attack in the iconic Tiananmen Square, the public outcry over the denial of free to air television to a local company in Hong Kong, health hazards posed by growing pollution, the open trial of a former politburo member, Bo Xilai, the crackdown on activists and online “rumour mongering” and the conspicuous absence of the American president in the Bali APEC meeting.

These events have, however, been overshadowed by speculation, both domestic and international, over the likely nature and sweep of reforms that the 18th central committee, under the dynamic leadership of President Xi Jinping, may undertake. The plenum is slated for November 9 to12 at Beijing.

Historically, the third plenums have been known for the launch of major economic reforms by the party central committee of the time. In 1978, the 11th central committee under Deng Xiaoping launched the path-breaking reforms of China’s economic development in the teeth of opposition and in the aftermath of the disastrous fallout of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Since then China has transformed itself, registering a meteoric rise to be the second largest economy in the world, clocking over 10 per cent growth on an average, with nearly 200 dollar billionaires from a mere three in 2003, besides hundreds of dollar millionaires today in just about 30 years.

In this background, it is but natural for national leaders led by Xi Jinping to express their views on important issues and challenges that face the party and the country. From seemingly unfettered coverage of the news with critical comments, the media appear to have become an informal conduit of communication and exchange of views between the government and the people, besides the party units.

The informal mechanism is seen to have helped educate businessmen, academics and others about the thinking of the leadership on reforms and other important issues. The minds of the people are also being conditioned to adapt to challenges and overcome problems by doing all that is necessary to help the party and the government.

For instance, the president has cautioned the people that they should be ready to sacrifice some economic growth for reforms and economic structural transformation. The prime minster, Li Keqiant, had earlier set the tone by deciding to set up the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to turn the city into a global economic hub and pave the way for the internationalization of the Chinese yuan. Meanwhile, seeing a riot of speculation, the Communist Party of China asked the senior politburo member, Yu Zhungsheng, to give a broad outline of the reforms stating that these were likely to be “deep, comprehensive” and “unprecedented”. This has made a section of China watchers speculate that the reforms are likely to be more fundamental than in the past and embrace spheres beyond economic development.

The Nuclear Handshake

Is the Pakistan-Saudi weapons program for real?
BY SIMON HENDERSON | NOVEMBER 8, 2013

BBC Newsnight, a British equivalent of ABC's 20/20, ran a story on Nov. 6 saying intelligence reports judged that Pakistan was ready to deliver nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia. The purpose would be to counter Iran's perceived nuclear weapons program: "It is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic [of Iran]," the report concluded.

The story ran the night before the next round of talks between international powers and Iran in Geneva. The implicit message was that Riyadh had a fallback option in case a deal is cut with the Islamic Republic that is not to its liking. Some may be skeptical about the report due to the denials of both nations and some vagueness about the source of these claims, but dismissing the report out of hand would be foolhardy: The outline of the Newsnight story has been circulating among Saudi watchers for several months as Riyadh's frustration with Washington over its Middle East policies have grown.

Although the latest information does not appear to have come from Saudi Arabia -- an unnamed "senior NATO decision-maker" was cited as the principal source -- any transfer of Pakistani warheads or missiles would fit neatly into the category of "ways the House of Saud could make things unpleasant for Washington."

Well before the uprisings of the so-called Arab Spring, King Abdullah regarded the threat of a nuclear Iran as a major destabilizing force. More than 10 years ago, the Guardian reported the kingdom was debating a strategy paper setting out three options: acquiring a nuclear capability of its own, maintaining or entering into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection, or trying to reach a regional agreement on a nuclear-free Middle East.

In February 2012, a correspondent of the London Times was summoned to Riyadh, where he was told by an unnamed senior Saudi official that the kingdom could acquire nuclear warheads "within weeks" of Iran developing atomic weapons. In the event of a successful Iranian nuclear test, Riyadh would "immediately launch a twin track nuclear weapons program," according to the Saudi source, while warheads would be purchased "off the shelf" from abroad. At the same time, the kingdom would upgrade its planned civil nuclear program to include a military dimension.

America exits Afghanistan, trouble may come visiting India

NOVEMBER 09, 2013
Srinagar, November 09, 2013
First Published: 14:34 IST(9/11/2013)
Last Updated: 15:59 IST(9/11/2013)


India is bracing for more militancy in battle-scarred Jammu and Kashmir, believing that fighters now focused on resisting US-led troops in Afghanistan will shift toward the flashpoint with Pakistan. Some say increased violence recently along India's heavily militarised border with Pakistan proves that shift is already underway.

As a result, India is increasing use of drones, thermal sensors and foot patrols as it tries to catch out any battle-hardened militants moving through the forested mountains near the frontier. At the same time, India's troops have increasingly been engaging in skirmishes with Pakistan's military.

The United States' 60,000 troops will be halved by February 2014 in Afghanistan and troops from the UK (7,900), Germany (4,400), Italy (2,800), Poland (1,550) and Georgia (1,550) will all pull out by the end of 2014.

Rebels "are testing us. They're making their presence felt by launching audacious attacks," an Indian army commander in Kashmir said on condition of anonymity in line with army policy. "They have started recruiting young people into their folds. They are training some of these boys locally."

US officials and experts acknowledge there are valid concerns. Though the US government has not discussed such a risk publicly, the chief of its forces in the Pacific says the US is increasingly discussing terrorist movements with countries in the region.

"We are thinking about it more and more each day, and this includes dialogue with our partners in India and Pakistan," admiral Samuel Locklear told reporters in Washington this week.

Some Pakistani analysts believe the country's army leaders have little interest in rocking the boat now, raising the worrying possibility that the recent violence was sparked by militants who have gone rogue or are operating in cooperation with lower-level officials sympathetic to their cause.

Who is Mullah Fazlullah?

By Daud Khattak 
November 8, 2013

The Waziristan-based Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), picked Mullah Fazlullah, nicknamed "Mullah FM Radio," as their new chief on Thursday. Once known for his two-year reign of terror in Pakistan's tourist resort of Swat, Fazlullah is stepping into the shoes of Hakimullah Mehsud, another dreaded TTP chief who was killed in a CIA drone strike in North Waziristan on November 2.

As the newly-elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif struggles to launch peace talks with the TTP, a number of Pakistani analysts believe that any hope of reconciliation is now dead.

"The appointment of Fazlullah as head of the TTP means the chapter of talks is closed for the time being," said Sen. Haji Muhammad Adeel, a top leader for the secular Awami National Party. Talking to this writer on Thursday, hours after Fazlullah's leadership was announced, Adeel said the Pakistani army would also be averse to talks since Fazlullah was behind the attack that killed Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Niazi, a top military officer, in September.

From Fazle Hayat to TTP chief

Fazle Hayat, as Fazlullah was originally known, was a common village boy who joined the religious seminary of a Malakand-based cleric, Sufi Muhammad, and later married one of Muhammad's daughters. He was impressed when his mentor and father-in-law launched the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) in the early nineties, but his first fighting experience began when Muhammad led a lashkar of thousands of volunteers from Malakand, as well as the Bajaur and Mohmand tribal districts, to fight alongside the Afghan Taliban against NATO and U.S. forces in October 2001. 

Muhammad's arrest by Pakistani security agencies in late 2001 upon his return from Afghanistan left a vacuum in Swat's militant movement. But his son-in-law, who had himself spent about 17 months in a Pakistani jail, came forward to fill the void and started preaching at a small mosque in the Swati town of Mam Dheri, which he later renamed "Imam Dheri" to add a more Islamic touch.

Born in 1974 or 1975 to a simple farming family in Mam Dheri near Fizza Ghat area of Swat, Hayat changed his name to Fazlullah in the 1990s to bolster his credentials as an Islamic leader, even though he had failed to receive full credentials from any religious institution.

Once an employee at a ski lift in Fizza Ghat, he used to say that he was not a religious scholar, but that did not stop him from advocating for the imposition ofshari'a law in Swat.

Though Fazlullah initially taught the Koran to children at his Mam Dheri mosque, his preaching tone changed from sermons to threats after he launched his unauthorized FM radio channel in 2004. People started supporting him with men and material as he earned the nickname "Maulana Radio." Though he addressed the people of Swat very generally at first, he soon gained supporters among the conservative Pashtuns of the area, as well as erstwhile supporters of the jailed Muhammad and Pakistanis working abroad in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, whose families back in the country relayed Fazlullah's messages.

While encouraging his listeners to pray five times a day and avoid sins, Fazlullah also preached anti-Americanism, focusing on the U.S. forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. As his audience grew, he started discouraging parents from sending their girls to schools and spoke out against watching television or listening to music. In November 2005, after he criticized the "evil of television," some local Swatis responded by setting fire to thousands of TV sets.

India-Pakistan: Afghan End-Game

7 November 2013
Shujaat Bukhari
Editor in Chief 
Rising Kashmir

Post International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrawal from Afghanistan is a scenario that has thrown up more than one concern for the bigger players in the game. Whatever the fate of Afghanistan and its people, the issue which is being paid attention from Washington to Delhi is the Indian role in the stability and reconstruction of a country that is in tatters due to the successive wars it has seen for over three decades now. With Washington and Delhi being closer to each other than the significant distance both maintained during the Cold War, the role for Delhi is not out of the ambit of the discussions that are taking place on the subject. But despite India’s visible presence in current Afghanistan, the greater effort to secure more space in the process of deciding its fate post ISAF withdrawal is becoming a major source of not discomfort but irritation for Pakistan. For past few years, India’s current as well as future role in Afghanistan has been a subject that Pakistan does not want to even consider for discussion. However, India is insisting on opening up formal talks with Pakistan, as it is aware of the sensitivities entailed with such a precarious situation.

Delhi has its own theory of getting involved in Afghanistan. From claiming its older civilization links with the region to helping Afghanistan to become a country worth living, India has also been trying to display the greater power its presumably assumes in the region. What helped it, to be seen in Afghanistan, was the bettered relation the Karzai regime has with Pakistan and its deterioration helped to open up more doors for India’s involvement. 

Karzai government has been at logger heads with Islamabad right from Musharraf’s time till today as it strongly believed that certain important sections in Pakistan’s security establishments had been helping Taliban to destabilize Afghanistan. Nevertheless Pakistan’s geographical proximity to Afghanistan could not keep it at bay as far as its role in the post September 11 attacks is concerned.

Delhi’s increasing effort to fit in the “great game” that is likely to ensue after the 2014 withdrawal, however, has not been reciprocated positively by Pakistan for varied reasons. The divergent rather opposite views are part of any discourse that is shaping on these lines. At a recent high level Track-II dialogue on India-Pakistan facilitated by German think tank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the differing views were more than clear. Pakistani participants were clear in their thinking that Pakistan had a lead role in Afghanistan and they also aired the concerns about what they call India’s “sinister” support to certain separatist groups along the borders in Pakistan. The charge, Indian participants would vehemently refute.

As of now Delhi would only insist on having a dialogue on the subject, which of course is not palatable to Islamabad. This silent war has been going on for long time. With Delhi spending more than $ 2 billion in past several years on the “reconstruction” process in Afghanistan, its stakes are increasing and that is why Islamabad sees “red” in Delhi being too “enthusiastic.” I remember how Shah Mehmooh Qureshi, the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan vehemently opposed India’s role in London Conference (on Afghanistan) in January 2010. He succeeded in curtailing India’s influence saying that joint Af-Pak policy was not applicable for Pakistan. He had earlier expressed his fears in an interview to Los Angeles Times on October 3 2009 when he emphasized “If you want Pakistan focused more on the (threat from Afghanistan in the) west, than we have to feel more secure on the east. There is a linkage there.” 

The Limits of China’s Surveillance State

November 08, 2013
By Gabe Collins

The recent attacks point to a future in which repression alone will no longer be enough to guarantee stability.

Violence in Xinjiang appears to be worsening significantly, despite Beijing’s large commitment of money and manpower to build a comprehensive surveillance apparatus intended to preempt social disorder. China now spends at least $111 billion per year nationwide on internal security – nearly as much as itsreported 2013 military budget of approximately $114 billion.

Yet 2013 has been among the most violent years in the past decade in Xinjiang, with some data showing that at least 189 people – mostly Uyghurs – have been killed in violent confrontations with government forces since March, with many others left injured. More disturbingly, Xinjiang’s troubles seem to be metastasizing into other parts of China, a dynamic the authorities have worked hard to prevent.

On October 28, an SUV driven by a Uyghur man and containing two members of his family rammed into a crowd at Tiananmen Square, killing two tourists. The vehicle’s occupants then lit themselves on fire. The Tiananmen suicide attack and the rising tide of violence in Xinjiang itself suggest that in the face of determined adversaries, China’s well-manned and generously funded surveillance systems and repressive apparatus are not nearly as effective at preempting unrest as Beijing would like them to be.

Indeed, the fact that the Party stripped the senior military commander for Xinjiang, Gen. Peng Yong, of his position in the regional party’s Standing Committee less than a week after the Tiananmen attack suggests Beijing believes a senior official had to be sacrificed for significant security failures. Gen. Peng’s position was likely already weak due to the turmoil that has afflicted Xinjiang for much of this year.

Before delving into the strategic implications of surveillance limitations, let us take a quick look at what the parameters of the system look like today. China now may employ as many as two million Internet watchersto aid official censors. On the physical side, China has an ominously national program called “Skynet” (a name that will no doubt disconcert fans of the Terminator movies) that aims to increase the number and capabilities of surveillance cameras.

Beijing itself is leading the way. For those walking or driving in Beijing (and a growing number of other Chinese cities), the operative phrase increasingly is “smile, you’re on camera.” Beijing now reportedly hasat least 800,000 CCTV cameras, according to Wu Hequan, Secretary General of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. As such, in each Tiananmen Square-sized block (roughly 270 meters by 380 meters), one can expect to find an average of 60 CCTV cameras.

Maldives Imbroglio – The Plot Thickens

09/11/2013

The ouster of President Mohd Nasheed in February 2012, due to protests allegedly initiated by Islamist hardliners not pleased with his liberal policies[i], had plunged Maldives into a political crisis and led to the takeover by interim President Mohd Waheed. To ensure the return to a democratic government, multi-party presidential elections were held in Maldives on 07 September 2013, as scheduled. However, these were inconclusive, as no candidate got the mandatory 50 percent plus votes to be elected. Accordingly, a second round run-off election was to be held on 28 September 2013, wherein the first two candidates, Mohd Nasheed with 45.45 per cent votes and Abdullah Yameen, half brother of the erstwhile dictator Gayoom with 25.35 per centvotes were to stand again for the run-off election. The other two candidates, Qasim Ibrahim (a billionaire resort owner) with 24.07 per cent votes and Mohd Waheed (incumbent President) with 5.13 per cent votes were voted out of the process.

Cancellation of Elections – Intriguing Developments

A series of intriguing developments however led to the run-off elections not being held as scheduled. The Maldives Supreme Court initially postponed the run-off second round due on 28 September 2103, and thereafter annulled the complete election and decided to hold the first round again on 20 October 2013, with all candidates becoming eligible to compete in the polls. This was apparently based on a complaint by Qasim Ibrahim, who lost by a very narrow margin (only 1.3 per cent) to Abdullah Yameen, claiming irregularities in the voters lists and lack of fairness in the first polls. Surprisingly, the police report on the issue was neither shown to the Election Commission (EC) nor made public[ii].

In a further development, the incumbent President, Mohd Waheed, who only garnered 5 per cent of the vote in the first election, withdrew his candidature for the election scheduled on 20 October 2013, apparently to oversee a free and fair election for the sake of the Maldivian people. Thereafter, in a surprise move, just hours before the re-scheduled polls were to open on 20 October 2013, the Maldivian police prevented the elections by surrounding the office of the EC and cordoning off parts of the capital Male. The police claimed that they had acted after consulting President Mohd Waheed, as the EC had not complied with court order of having the voters list endorsed by all candidates and they feared unrest in the country if the polls were held. This is the same police, which had protested against former President Nasheed and ensured his ouster in February 2012. In the latest move, the EC has set new dates for polls; the first round is now scheduled on 09 November 2013 and a run-off, if no candidate gets 50 per cent vote, would be held on 16 November 2013. Given the current circumstances, it is anybody’s guess whether a transparent, fair and violence free elections and thereafter a smooth transition of power will actually happen.

Disturbing Trends – A Cause of Concern

The repeated stalled elections in Maldives are a disturbing development as it appears to be a move to block the election of Nasheed, perceived to be pro-India. Reports had indicated that Nasheed was likely to get the requisite 50 per cent votes in the run-off elections which were to be held on 28 September 2013. However, this would not have been in the interest of the fundamentalist elements in Maldives, as also China or Pakistan. The annulment of the first round of polls, which were hailed as free and fair by various international observers from EU, the UN and India, is clearly not in order. In fact, the decision to cancel the polls was taken by a seven member bench, who voted a close 4-3 to cancel the polls, wherein three of the judges, including the Chief Justice said there was no legal basis to annul the election.

The Long Reach for Syrian Peace

Interviewee: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
November 5, 2013

The primary strategic threat to the United States and its allies in the Syrian conflict is the potential triumph of radical jihadist fighters, says CFR President Emeritus Les Gelb. He argues that Washington should pressure moderate Sunni rebels to work, at least temporarily, with the Assad government in defeating the hard-line Islamists—the "biggest threat" to both sides. "The [Assad government knows] that if the jihadis come to power, they're going to kill them all; while the mostly secular, moderate Sunnis know that if the jihadis come to power, they will impose an Islamic state with sharia law." Once the jihadist danger is eliminated, Gelb says, perhaps a power-sharing agreement between the moderate Sunni majority and the Alawite (Shiite) minority can be reached.

Young Free Syrian Army fighters pose for a picture on a couch in Old Aleppo, November 2013. (Photo: Molhem Barakat/Courtesy Reuters)

Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East seeking support for a Geneva II conference aimed at ending the fighting in Syria. Do you think that is even feasible at this stage?

It doesn't look like the conference can work, mainly because the principal parties to the conflict don't want to negotiate. The so-called "good" rebels—the Sunni moderates that we support, who are led by Ahmed al-Jarba and based in Turkey—are reluctant to negotiate with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. And Assad, who's willing to show up there at some level, isn't really willing to give up anything at this point. So I don't think that Kerry will succeed in bringing about a conference—and even if he does, it may not accomplish anything.

So, he's in a real bind it seems. Should the United States do more by increasing military aid to the rebels?

When I was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, most of the senators were going in that direction: let's supply more and better arms to the moderate, secular, Sunni rebels. My answer to that is to point out what's happened the last ten years. Other nations have been supplying more and better weapons to the "good rebels" while Russia and Iran have countered by supplying more and better arms to the Assad regime. And the main beneficiary of that is quite clear: the jihadis, the radical rebels.

So the current U.S. policy that's trying to fix this in Geneva doesn't make any sense, while the business of saying "forget negotiations and arm the good rebels" has only produced stalemate and ever-higher levels of suffering hardship for the Syrian people.

Is there another solution out there?

I don't know if there's a solution, but there's a more sensible way of proceeding based on some reality. We should start with the question: "Who is the biggest threat to U.S. interests?" Is it Assad? Well, Assad is a miserable, nasty dictator, but we lived with him and his father, Hafez al-Assad, for decades and decades. And while he did some warlike things from time to time, basically we and our allies in the region could live with him.

The U.S.-China Path to Mutual Prosperity

Author: Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman; Former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury
November 8, 2013 
Washington Post

President Obama's plans to travel to Southeast Asia last month were, regrettably, tabled amid the government shutdown. But that missed opportunity does not diminish the importance of his pivot toward Asia.

A constructive relationship between China and the United States is critically in our mutual interest. The relationship, however, is highly controversial in both countries. Although geopolitical issues are of great substantive importance, economic issues are closer to most people's lives and play a significant role in public attitudes toward the other country. And with each country claiming harm from the other's economic policies, the discourse between our countries consists largely of a dialogue of the deaf.

The United States criticizes Chinese interest-rate, land and other subsidies that support investment and exports, including a managed exchange rate (though that has less effect, for now, because China's current-account surplus has declined substantially). U.S. officials also fault significant shortfalls in China's protection of intellectual property rights, including cyber-appropriation.

China has long expressed strong concern that U.S. fiscal deficits could lead to unduly high interest rates, a U.S. or global financial destabilization or, alternatively, serious inflation. China often complains about U.S. political opposition to Chinese infrastructure investment. China has also criticized U.S. export laws, perhaps in part to counter U.S. criticism of Chinese trade policies.

The list could go on and on.

A far more sensible framework for this dialogue would support better policy in each country and would turn the economic arena into a constructive influence in our relationship. That framework would be built on two guiding principles: Each country will do what is in its long-term economic self-interest, and each country acting in its own, wisely determined economic self-interest will serve the best interests of both countries.

America's economic problem is not China but getting its own policy house in order; similarly, China's future depends not on issues with respect to the United States but on meeting its own challenges. The United States has enormous long-term strengths, including a dynamic and entrepreneurial culture, the rule of law, flexible labor and capital markets, vast natural resources and favorable demographics. But to realize our potential, we need a sound fiscal regime; robust public investment in infrastructure, basic research and so much else; and reform in economically vital areas, such as immigration and K-12 education. (A deficit-reduction program should be enacted now, but with deferral for a limited period and a moderate upfront stimulus to help our fragile economic recovery.)

The United States has vast infrastructure needs and a paucity of public capital. A welcoming environment for Chinese investment in infrastructure projects would create jobs and improve our long-term competitiveness.

Why Your Intuition About Cyber Warfare is Probably Wrong

by Matthew Miller, Jon Brickey and Gregory Conti

Journal Article | November 29, 2012 Since the dawn of time, when one caveman first struck another, humans have relied on a natural understanding of their physical environment to conduct warfare. We have an inborn ability to understand the laws of the physical world. In order to shoot an artillery round farther, just add more powder; to provide cover for protection against bullets, hide behind a rock. A private might accidentally shoot the wrong target, but the potential damage is limited by the maximum range of his or her rifle. The laws of physics, however, are counterintuitive in cyberspace. In cyberspace, our understanding of the “laws of physics” is turned on its head. Weapons can be reproduced instantly, “bullets” travel at near the speed of light, destroyed targets can be brought back from the dead, and a seventeen year old can command an army. As human beings we are at a distinct disadvantage when thinking intuitively about cyber warfare. In this article we study where our intuition fails us in cyber warfare and suggest alternate ways to think about the conduct of cyber war that account for the vast differences between the kinetic and the non-kinetic fight. A correct understanding and appreciation of these differences and common misconceptions is absolutely necessary to conduct cyber warfare and to integrate cyber effects into the kinetic battlefield. To ground this work we need to define the term “cyber.” There is significant and evolving debate regarding the precise definition of cyber. For purposes of this article we define cyber as a spectrum of cyberspace operations including Computer Network Attack (CNA), Computer Network Exploitation (CNE), and Computer Network Defense (CND).

The Attacker has the Advantage over the Defender

In classic military doctrine, the defender has a distinct advantage over the attacker. In today’s model of cyber security, defenders build layers of defenses to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical assets. Security professionals pour millions of dollars into such defenses, but with only limited success. A Maginot Line strategy rarely works in cyberspace because attackers need only find a single flaw to launch a successful attack. Perfect defense is impossible; the astronomic complexity of the software and hardware woven into our information systems and networks is beyond human comprehension. As an example, the Windows XP operating system alone has more than 45 million lines of computer code, creating an immense attack surface. Many aspects of computer security cannot be solved by computers, such as determining the exact operation of a piece of untrusted software. Attackers however, can probethese complex systems to find a flaw and are frequently successful. Hardware and software monocultures, such as widespread use of a single operating system or web browser, amplify the impact of these discoveries by facilitating widespread compromise. Against a determined adversary, many security experts believe we cannot keep our computers secure, compromise is simply a function of time and dedicated resources. Common defenses, such as antivirus systems are reaching the end of their usefulness and cannot be relied upon for effective defense. Even air-gapped networks, not directly connected to the Internet, have proven vulnerable to mobile malicious code. Recent research indicates that defenders must field 1,000 times the resources (money, people, time, compute power, etc.) to reach parity with attackers in cyberspace; this is not a winning proposition for the defender. 

Figure 1: In cyber warfare, adversary tactics evolve on a daily basis, unlike the notional Krasnovian Army formerly used in training exercises. (Image Source: Krasnovia.com)

We aren’t Fighting the Krasnovian Army

During the Cold War, military planners could rely upon relatively fixed threat doctrine, see Figure 1. We knew the capabilities of threat units and could plan accordingly. In the cyber domain, threat Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) are constantly changing. One day we may have a distributed denial of service attack, the next day a phishing attempt. We could also have a drive-by download, a USB stick dropped in a parking lot or something else entirely new. The list goes on and on because new capabilities and TTPs are developed on a daily basis. Adversaries include well-resourced nation states and large online criminal organizations; however, even small groups and individuals can join the fray and have a tremendous impact. In some ways we are already at war. We have much to learn by studying insurgency and applying those lessons in cyberspace.

Reserve Forces may be more Capable than Active Duty Troops

In kinetic operations, reserve forces have always been at a distinct disadvantage, often equipped with older equipment and less frequent training opportunities. However, reserve personnel are at their best when their civilian careers match their military roles. Truck drivers are a textbook example. Great opportunity lies for the military to recruit Reserve and National Guard personnel who are experts in cyber security; and we need to. The high churn of active duty forces between assignments inside and outside cyber continually degrade their skills. Embracing the value of reserve cyber experts, and civilian cyber experts, bears great promise for the future cyber workforce.

A Computer Can Be Turned into a Brick

Cyber Attacks can have devastating real world effects. We tend to think in terms of lost or corrupted data as a result of an attack, however computer hardware can be destroyed, or “bricked,” by corrupting its internal firmware and other means. This happens fairly rarely today because many malicious applications are tied to online crime and avoid harming their host. However, we should assume that our adversaries in a time of war will not be reluctant to destroy our information systems, weapon systems, and our Nation’s critical infrastructure, including financial systems. Beyond just disabling or destroying computer hardware, software, and data, malicious software can also cause significant physical damage. Experts have warned of vulnerabilities in the SCADA systems which control water, power, communication, transport, and manufacturing systems. Stuxnet provided a very clear example of such capabilities by reportedly destroying centrifuges used to enrich uranium. We shouldn’t forget that our weapon systems are heavily reliant on computer technology and may be vulnerable. The recent virus found in a military drone command center may be a warning of things to come. Our military depends on its technical advantage. If we lose our communication and information processing systems we will be severely degraded as a military and possibly rendered combat ineffective.

Raytheon Touts Internet-Wired Strykers

by Brendan McGarry on November 6, 2013

As the U.S. Army decides how many new radios to buy for its ground vehicles, Raytheon Co. wants the service to know that its existing system in Strykers already offers Internet-like connectivity.

The Waltham, Mass.-based company has given a decades-old battlefield communications network a digital makeover by upgrading the hardware and software that support roughly 20,000 radios in ground vehicles, from Humvee utility trucks to Stryker armored troop carriers to M1 Abrams tanks.

The latest version of the so-called Enhanced Position Location Reporting System increases connectivity to more than 2 megabits per second, up from what was once as little as 57 kilobits per second, company officials said. Now, troops can use a Toughbook laptop computer tethered to an AN/TSQ-158 radio to access the military’s classified network to chat, pass intelligence or browse secure websites, they said.

“It’s 40 times faster than it was,” Timothy Strobel, an engineer at Raytheon, said in a telephone interview with Military.com. “When you’re dealing with that kind of capability, you don’t have to send packetized, fixed-formatted messages. You can send standard, Internet-style messaging.”

The system, known in military parlance as EPLRS (pronounced “e-plars”), can also connect to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, to run newer force-tracking software programs such as the Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR, and the Command Post of the Future, or CPOF, in addition to the older program Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, or FBCB2.

Raytheon wants to dispel the notion that the system is only good for low-bandwidth applications, such as the latter.

“Lots of people had the impression that EPLRS could only be used for FBCB2,” Strobel said. “We’ve been modernizing the software on an annual basis, even though the Army hasn’t been taking advantage of the new capabilities.”

All a soldier needs to unleash the faster connectivity is an Ethernet cord.

“It’s like hooking up a laptop to a home network,” Strobel said. “All that’s required is an additional cable.”

Earlier this year, Raytheon demonstrated the technology with an Army unit in Afghanistan. Now, the company is trying to highlight the system’s potential while making the case that the service would be better off spending its limited funding for new radios on other brigades.

Soldier of the Future?

IssueNet Edition| Date : 09 Nov , 2013

War enhances health technology in ways that are beneficial. In World War II, the Allies made significant medical advances in developing antibiotic drugs and performed life-saving blood transfusions. Now, militaries the world over are developing keen interest in the human body and brain and aim to create armies of mutant soldiers equipped with unstoppable physical and mental powers.

According to the UK MoD, within the next three decades, British soldiers will have the ability to lift huge weights, run extreme distances at high speeds, have infra-red night vision and be capable of transmitting thoughts by electronically-aided telepathy.

An MoD report entitled ‘Global Strategic Trends Out to 2040’ predicts that advanced drug and genetic technologies will enable armies to re-program the genes of soldiers in order to transform them into daunting fighters. High-tech brain implants could transform soldiers into super-intelligent man-machines. These brain implants, called ‘cognitive prostheses’, could give soldiers bionic vision and hearing as well as extraordinary IQ and the ability of total recall. Such ‘augmented’ soldiers could even have bodies that self-repair wounds through the use of ‘regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and artificial immune systems’.

Lockheed Martin is also developing an advanced robotic exoskeleton known as the Human Universal Load Carrier, which will enable men to carry massive loads with minimal effort. The skeleton will be highly mobile, ultra-light and attached to the outside of the body with its own titanium legs in order to transfer the weight of the load to the ground. Microcomputers sense the soldier’s body movements and enable it to do exactly what he does, whether it is running, lifting or crawling. Prototype versions are under combat trials in Afghanistan.

Experiments in the US have demonstrated that implant technology could also give soldiers extra senses such as night vision and the ability to perceive magnetic fields.

Good and Bad Reasons to Cut Defense

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
November 10, 2013

Could the much-maligned cuts to defense spending actually be a good thing for American strategy? That’s the case that historian Melvyn Leffler makes [4] in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs. Responding to those who argue that past retrenchments have left the military ill prepared to respond to future dangers and stress the need to avoid doing the same today, Leffler argues that these fears are overblown. In his words:

Contrary to such conventional wisdom, the consequences of past U.S. defense cuts were not bad. In fact, a look at five such periods over the past century—following World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War—shows that austerity can be useful in forcing Washington to think strategically, something it rarely does when times are flush.

The argument, in a nutshell, is that when the government is operating under constrained resources, it is forced to make more difficult choices and prioritize more effectively, leading to better strategy. It has a certain intuitive plausibility to it, but the examples he presents don’t really seem to support it.

Take the most infamous one—the U.S. military drawdown after World War I, which is often held to have left Washington unready for World War II as the fighting broke out in Europe and Asia. Not so, says Leffler. Rather, “When a second global war did come, the paucity of the resources on hand actually forced U.S. policymakers to make tough but smart strategic choices.” Thus, led by Harold Stark, then chief of naval operations, the U.S. government embraced a threat assessment that judged that the “principal threat to U.S. security was German power.” It allocated resources accordingly, focusing first on helping the United Kingdom to avoid defeat at Germany’s hands while simultaneously building up its own military power and “using diplomacy to avoid war with Japan.”

No doubt this approach has been vindicated by history. Yet while Leffler says that it was “a combination of austerity and crisis [that] helped forge a core strategic concept,” it seems abundantly clear that the crisis alone was the real driver. After all, defense spending had been comparably low [5] for the two previous decades, but that didn’t mean that officials were doing particularly deep strategic planning before 1940. Indeed, as Leffler notes, during that time they embraced a “flawed threat perception” that downplayed the danger from Germany and Japan. The result was that, on the eve of war, the United States had only the sixteenth-largest military in the world. The crisis was grave enough that it would have certainly prompted some kind of rethinking no matter what shape the military was in at the time, but Leffler never gives us any concrete reason to think that the lack of military resources was a net asset for Franklin Roosevelt and his team. U.S. planners succeeded in spite of the resource limitations they faced—not because of them.

Germany's Nazi Past Is Back

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)


November 9, 2013

It won't go away. It's uncomfortable, clammy, damp, noxious. Two events this past week testified to the lingering hold that memories of Nazism have in modern Germany. The further distant it seems, the more it resurfaces.

The first is the discovery [4]that Adolf Eichmann's superior is apparently buried in a Jewish cemetery in the former East Berlin. East Germany, which prided itself as an "anti-fascist" redoubt facing down the revanchist West Germany, never sought to face up to the Nazi past. Instead, it tried to claim that it had nothing in common with the Nazis. So perhaps it should not be surprising that it never really tried to explore what happened to Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller, who participated in the Wannsee Conference which formally authorized the destruction of European Jewry in January 1942. Now Professor Johannes Tuchel, who heads the German Resistance Center in Berlin, says that Muller's corpse was thrown into a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery in 1945.

The second is another discovery. It's that hundreds of priceless paintings seized by the Nazis, often as "degenerate art,"--Hitler staged an entire exhibition of it in 1939 in Munich, only to discover to his consternation that the public actually flocked to see it out of interest rather than contempt--have been residing for decades in the apartment of the son of a Nazi era art dealer. Art was central to the self-conception of of Hitler. Much of Nazism, as Frederic Spotts has suggested in Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, was a form of stagecraft with Hitler as the impresario of an entire country--the emphasis on Wagner, the torchlight parades, the tours of Weimar, the city of Goethe and Schiller, for German troops, the planned art museum in Linz. The Fuhrer spent much time fussing with his pet architect Albert Speer over their plans for Linz even as the net of doom came ever closer. The failed Viennese painter was convinced that he could purify the German race and conceived of himself as a political artist. Thomas Mann even called him "Brother Hitler."

But the Nazis were also running a criminal enterprise. Looting was a core principle of Nazism. So they stole from the Jews anything they could, down to the gold in their teeth. After the war much of it went missing. Now it appears that the elderly Cornelius Gurlitt had about 1,400 pieces stashed that he had inherited, if that is the appropriate word, from his father. The German government seems to have kept the find secret for over a year until Focus magazine broke the story. So far, the German government is hanging tough in the face of calls to restore the art to the Jewish families or descendants who originally possessed it. Why did it keep mum about the discovery? Protests are mounting [5]inside Germany: