3 December 2013

Tiptoe on permanent military top post

Tiptoe on permanent military top post

General Bikram Singh
New Delhi, Dec. 2: The defence ministry, pushed by the Prime Minister to restructure the armed forces’ headquarters, is reluctantly mulling the creation of a permanent post of a four-star general who would be the government’s top military adviser.
So far, the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (C/COSC) has been the seniormost of the chiefs of the army, navy and air force. Despite sounding important, it has been viewed largely as a ceremonial post.

Concerned that a change to a permanent post would impact on rivalries among and within the services, the defence ministry has sought the views of the National Security Council (NSC).
It has sent the recommendations of two task forces constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office to the National Security Council secretariat (NSCS).
“We are considering the recommendations (of the task forces) and cannot commit one way or the other,” the defence ministry spokesperson said when asked if army chief General Bikram Singh would be the first permanent C/COSC.

The current C/COSC is Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne who retires at the end of the month. Gen. Singh, who is scheduled to retire in August 2014, will take over from him.
The prospect of turf wars among the army, navy and the air force, and of general versus general (or admiral and air marshal) competitions for plum posts has intensified since the Prime Minister addressed the Unified Commanders’ Conference on November 22.
“We require urgent and tangible progress in establishing the right structures for higher defence management and the appropriate civil-military balance in decision-making that our complex security environment demands. Again, I encourage you to give this the highest professional consideration, harmonise existing differences among the individual services and evolve a blueprint for the future. I can assure you of the most careful consideration of your recommendations by the political leadership,” the Prime Minister had said at the conference.
He also urged the defence ministry to consider the recommendations of the task forces.
The Naresh Chandra Committee on defence reforms — that submitted its report in May last year — had suggested the creation of the post of a permanent C/COSC.

The recommendation got a boost after the COSC itself buried differences and found merit in the creation of the post.
Its argument: each chief has to devote so much time to his own service that there is little effort he can make for joint/integrated operations; besides the tenure of the C/COSC is not long enough.
One defence ministry source, explaining the delay in acting on the Naresh Chandra report, said the committee had “highlighted nearly a 100 action-points and these are very complex matters that cannot be decided so quickly”.

Also, the restructuring of the military establishment is a hot potato in an election year because the next government would have to deal with the resultant changes.
The task force has recommended that the C/COSC should be a four-star general like all the service chiefs and should have a fixed term of two years. At most, a permanent C/COSC may be regarded as a “first among equals”. Generals and equivalents (admiral and air chief marshal) serve a minimum of two years at the top and have to retire at the age of 62 years.
The task force and the COSC believe that with “jointness” or integrated military action being the mantra in the future battlefield, a permanent C/COSC leading to a chief of defence staff (CDS) can preside over tri-service commands that exist or are planned to be set up.
At present, there are tri-service commands in Andaman and Nicobar (commanded by rotation by a naval vice admiral, an army lieutenant-general or an air marshal), the chairman, chief of integrated defence staff to the C/COSC (commanded by rotation) and the strategic forces command (same type of command).

Three more tri-service commands have been proposed by the COSC — on cybersecurity, aerospace and special operations. Each of these commands need not necessarily be commanded by rotation but each may be dedicated to one of the three services.
A permanent C/COSC would also be expected to function as the top military adviser to the government. The creation of the post would also lead to heartburn in the bureaucracy that will wonder about the warrant of protocol that establishes the seniority or otherwise of government servants. 

Outside political appointees, the seniormost government servant is the cabinet secretary. The service chiefs are deemed equivalent to the cabinet secretary.

Brave diplomacy amidst genocide



Published: December 3, 2013
Brave diplomacy amidst genocide
Arjun Subramaniam

A peep into dissent against U.S. policy voiced by its Dacca consul-general during the liberation of Bangladesh

In a brave and desperate telegram to the White House on April 6, 1971, Archer Blood, the US Consul General in Dacca, the capital of erstwhile East Pakistan, reported the beginning of a genocide against the majority Bengali population of East Pakistan unleashed by the military dictator of Pakistan, Gen Yahya Khan. The telegram with the heading ‘Dissent from US policy towards East Pakistan’ said it all. Signed by twenty officials from the consulate and other US development agencies, the telegram highlighted ‘the suppression of democracy,’ ‘bending over backwards to accommodate the West Pak dominated government,’ and ‘our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected in order to salvage our nation’s position as a moral leader of the free world.’
A brave and committed diplomat with years of experience in the sub-continent, no westerner had a better ringside view of the traumatic events of 1971 that led to the birth of Bangladesh. Always at odds with the powerful and mercurial National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, and President Richard Nixon over the indifference of the US toward human right violations in East Pakistan, Blood and his team at the US consulate displayed rare courage and empathy in pressing for US intervention before the situation got out of hand. 

In a scathing indictment of the opportunistic appeasement of Pakistan’s military regime of Yahya Khan in the early 1970s by Nixon, Prof Gary J. Bass of Princeton University dismantles the smug aura of success that has generally been attached to the Kissinger-Nixon era of US foreign policy in his well-researched book, The Blood Telegram: India’s Secret War in East Pakistan. Digging deep into recently declassified official documents and oral transcripts from Delhi, Dacca and Washington, Bass is unsparing of the apathy of the White House towards the unfolding genocide unleashed on millions of Bengalis by Maj Gen Tikka Khan, later known as the Butcher of Bangladesh. The prime driver of US policy towards East Pakistan and ignoring the horrors of the genocide was Nixon’s obsession with creating history by restoring languishing ties with China – Pakistan was an important conduit in this endeavour as Kissinger used Yahya Khan and Bhutto as his sounding board to lay the ground with the Chinese for what ultimately turned out to be a path-breaking visit by Nixon to China in 1972. As the crisis spiralled out of control, the decisive humanitarian and military intervention by India in December 1971 did not change the duo’s approach towards India and recognise its predominant status in the region despite advice from stalwarts such as Kenneth Keating, the US ambassador in Delhi, and Edward Kennedy, the influential Democrat from Massachusetts. Instead, Kissinger and Nixon attempted all along to crudely convince the Indians not to intervene through back channel meetings and enticements of increased aid. 

Helpless during massacre
Beginning with the crackdown and massacre of Bengali intellectuals and academics at the University of Dacca on March 26, 1971, Blood looked on helplessly as US equipment including Chaffee tanks and Sabre jets were used against civilians. The most he could do along with his staff was to shield many Bengali families for days together from marauding Pakistani troops and Razakar mobs. Bass writes objectively on India’s growing concern over the influx of millions of refugees into north-east India and the nation-wide outcry of public and political opinion against the genocide. He suggests that India could have militarily intervened in East Pakistan as early as April-May 1971. Seeing an opportunity to cut Pakistan to size and genuinely concerned with the plight of the oppressed Bengali population of East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi was keen to launch a military action into East Pakistan immediately. However, a cautious and conservative Gen Manekshaw, the Chief of Army Staff, was not comfortable with sustaining a two-front operation during the summer and monsoon months, rightly preferring a campaign in the cooler winter months. It was this decision that led to the growth of the Mukti Bahini as a potent guerrilla force and the face of Bengali resistance till India finally intervened with its lightning campaign to liberate East Pakistan in December 1971. 

Extracts from various declassified White House conversations with Kissinger reveal Nixon as a self-serving President with little interest or empathy for the developing world in general, and South Asia in particular. Kissinger, on the other hand comes, across as a brilliant, hard-driving and mercurial czar of US diplomacy – he understood the crisis, but chose to go along with Nixon on the path to restoring relations with China as that is where he felt lay the most tangible gains for US foreign policy. As the crisis unfolded and the India-Pak war ended in a decisive victory for India, both Nixon and Kissinger were clearly rattled by Indira Gandhi’s assertiveness and refusal to cower before US hegemony in the region. 

Doing the right thing
Bass is reluctant to lavish praise on India for its strategic decisiveness and willingness to train the Mukti Bahini guerrilla fighters despite knowing that it risked a two-front war with Pakistan. However, he does admit that despite its fractured polity, for once India was united across party lines as its leadership combined ‘realpolitik’ with genuine empathy for victims of the genocide. Though Indira Gandhi initially thought that given the training and significant material assistance being given to the Mukti Bahini, it would be able to defeat the Pak Army in East Pak, she had not reckoned with the increasing brutality of the Pak Army and the spiralling refugee crisis. With over 10 million refugees streaming into India by November, 1971, there was no alternative but war on the eastern front. Luckily for India, Pakistan struck first on the western front on December 3, 1971 and allowed India to occupy the moral high ground in the ensuing 14-day conflict. Bass rightly spends little time on the war as enough has already been written about ‘India’s finest hour.’ Sydney Schanberg of the New York Times emerges in the book as journalism’s knight in shining armour as he courageously reported on the genocide and the conflict; he turned out to be Blood’s comrade-in-arms as between the two of them, they attempted to appeal to the conscience of the world’s most powerful nation, and failed. The book is also an endorsement of courageous diplomacy and the belief that ‘doing the right thing’ is as important as ‘hard-ball realpolitik’. The book combines a racy narrative with meticulous research and excellent academic rigour. Overall, Bass offers a fresh perspective to a much written about period of modern South Asian history. 

Blood Telegram — India’s Secret War in East Pakistan by Gary J.Bass, Random House Publishers, Rs. 599

Dubious cycle of state dole and unpaid debt

Monday, 02 December 2013
| Joginder Singh |
 
Under the garb of assisting poor voters, politicians pressure public sector banks to sanction loans that are never repayed and eventually written off. This is a loss to the exchequer, and it proliferates poverty

Alongside the vast number of the poor in India, there are enough rich Indians whose assets are enough to wipe out poverty in the country. It is not only the citizens who can contribute in this effort; the Government too has a role to play. The same prudence is required when dealing with public money, as with private wealth.

Despite the Supreme Court order to bureaucrats to act only on the written orders of politicians, most civil servants dare not ask for illegal orders in writing, lest their service prospects are harmed. Even when somebody shows the guts, such a civil servant is not protected or shielded by the higher-ups. Corruption and peddling influence and power are all inter-linked.

The Government has ordered that if a Member of Parliament makes a request, it should normally be conceded. If for some reason, it is not possible to do so, the situation should be properly explained. It has also laid down the courtesies which should be extended while meeting a particular MP or MLA. The result is for everybody to see — especially in terms of how Government funds or loans are disbursed, almost on non-repayable basis.

‘Non-performing asset’ is a euphemism used by the Reserve Bank of India for dead or lost money, that had been loaned out without due diligence. The extent of such loot from Government-run banks can be judged from the latest RBI report. It says that on March 31, 2012, gross NPAs from the priority sector stood at Rs 56,201 crore, from the non-priority sector at Rs 55,246 crore and the public sector at Rs 217 crore. The RBI admitted that this is due to inadequate credit appraisal. It also clarified that the priority sector makes up the largest share of NPAs at 52.33 per cent.

State Bank of India and its associates alone reported NPAs worth Rs 45,695 crore in 2012, up from Rs 16,958 crore in 2003. Other nationalised banks were at Rs 65,969 crore in 2012 versus Rs 35,849 crore in 2003. Apart from poor credit evaluation, another often ignored cause for increasing NPA are the Government’s loan melas usually held when an election is around the corner.

The cult of distrust

Tue Dec 03 201
Elites assert innocence not by being exemplary, but by being shrill.
 
Robert Harris's wonderful novel, An Officer and a Spy, on the Dreyfus affair in France, has an extraordinary sentence that captures the collective sentiment at the time: "It is beyond even hypocrisy, it is beyond even lying : it has become a psychosis." It is not much of a stretch to think that this sentence describes what so much of India's public discourse feels like at the moment: a kind of psychosis with a self-fulfilling logic of its own. The psychosis that Harris describes was rather clear: it was the determination of a large number of Frenchmen to continue to believe in the treasonous guilt of Dreyfus, even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, simply because he was Jewish. It was as if collective consciousness had become unhinged from reality, driven by what it wanted to believe rather than what the case was.

The psychosis of our elites is more elusive. It does not confine itself to a single object but expresses itself in a constellation of elements. It is primarily a ruling class losing its grip on reality, with little capacity to distinguish the important from the trivial, with little capacity for making fine moral distinctions, and now locked in a self-confirming cycle of suspicion, recrimination and self-loathing. It is a form of malaise where we are so out of sorts that it is becoming harder to assess the reality we face. The bombastic dogmatism of public argument can barely disguise the sense of vertigo that lies beneath.

How do we explain this condition? To a certain extent, this is inevitable in a society undergoing vast changes. In a variety of spheres, the old order cannot continue on the conventions that sustained it for so long. In politics, a deep passion for elections and democracy remains one encouraging trend. But whether representative government is capable of measuring up to the changing demands of the time remains an open question. The state has still not adjusted to the profound shifts in power taking place in society and therefore constantly exposes its own limitations. The economic future, which after decades of stagnation, had begun to look rosy, suddenly seems a lot more uncertain. The changes in society are even more profound on a number of levels. Basic mores and sensibilities are changing rapidly: new economies of desire are being unleashed in ways we barely fathom, a whole range of social roles, particularly gender roles, are being redefined. Who or what has authority, who or what is valued is no longer clear.

Chinese ADIZ in East China Sea: Posers for India




December 2, 2013 
China has enormous capacity to surprise the world. In the third week of November, China suddenly announced the creation of an Air Defence identification Zone (ADIZ) over the Senkakau/Diayou islands in East China Sea. The Chinese notification said all planes passing through the ADIZ should give prior information to the Chinese authorities of their flight. 

Significantly, the notification added that in case of non compliance China would take "emergency defensive measures" hinting that it could use military measures to deal with those who do not comply with ADIZ requirements. 

The Chinese announcement has raised the tensions several notches in the already tense East China Sea where there is a raging dispute between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the islands. China claims sovereignty over the uninhabited islands, while Japan has the administrative control over them. The South Koreans have also been affected because the Chinese ADIZ overlaps with a South Korean ADIZ in the area. 

The Japanese, the South Korean and the US reaction was swift. In calculated defiance, the US flew two of its Guam-based unarmed B-52 bombers through the Chinese ADIZ disregarding Chinese stipulations of prior notification. The Japanese and South Koreans also sent their surveillance planes through the contested zone. Undeterred, the Chinese in turn sent their war planes though the zone and also naval ships to the islands. 

The brinkmanship has already begun. Neither side is showing signs of backing off. This has raised the chances of conflict. Several civilian air lines, including the US, worried about passenger safety, have already begun to comply with the Chinese stipulations. The Japanese airlines initially said it would comply with the Chinese requirements but later on backed off under pressure from the Japanese government. 

The Chinese have also pointed out that the Japanese and the US response to the Chinese ADIZ is hypocritical. The US, Japan and South Korea already have air defence zones in the region. These countries had never consulted China before setting up their own ADIZs. So why pick on Chinese ADIZ? 

Why have the Chinese come up with unquestionable proactive move, at this point of time, when tensions between Japan and China have already been high?

India should take a lesson from what China thinks and does





December 02, 2013 

'There is still no road on the last 37 km between the McMahon Line and Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh. Ironically, during my visit, Beijing announced the opening of a 117- km highway linking Metok, located just north of the McMahon Line.'

'My local friends kept saying with some envy in their voices, "The Chinese are very much in advance on us".' Claude Arpi on a recent visit to the last large village before the McMahon Line that divides India and China.

India should take a lesson from what China thinks and does, as there is no doubt that the Chinese are better planners than Indians.

Already when he was heir apparent, Xi Jinping stated: 'We must implement Mao's strategic concept of the 'unity between soldiers and civilians" and both the army and regional civilian authorities should assiduously pool our resources in the preparation for military struggle.'

What does it mean?

It signifies that the civil administration as well as the private sector should participate in the nation's preparedness to defend its borders.

Chairman Mao was an ardent advocate of 'The synthesis between the requirements of peacetime and war.' In other words, civilian infrastructure projects like airports, roads and railways should be designed to serve both peace and war needs.

It is not that Indians are unable to think far ahead. Sardar Patel had a far-sighted vision about Indian border issues.

On November 7, 1950 (just five weeks before he passed away), he wrote to Nehru on the following requirements:
A military and intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India both on the frontier and internal security.
An appraisement of strength of our forces; A long-term consideration of our defense needs.
The political and administrative steps which we should take to strengthen our Northern and North-Eastern Frontier.
Improvement of our communication, road, rail, air and wireless in these areas and with the frontier outposts.

It is sad that nothing was done then, or later, on the issue of border development, even after the tragic events of October-November 1962.

Kindly click Next to read further...

'The Chinese are very much in advance on us'
December 02, 2013 09:15 IST

I recently visited Menchuka, the last large village before the McMahon Line dividing India and China in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The area, located some 50 km from the Line of Actual Control (McMahon Line), was invaded by China in 1962. I was told by old people that the People's Liberation Army stayed for nearly one month in the area; despite this, the local Membas and Adis (known as Lobas in Tibet) have always remained loyal to India.

Today, there is still no road on the last 37 km between the McMahon Line and Menchuka (though I was told the construction may start soon). The situation is much worse in the adjoining sub-division of Manigong.

From Tato, another sub-divisional headquarters, to Manigong, it takes some 7, 8 hours to cover 67 km, and then, there is no road going onward to the border.

Ironically, during my visit to Menchuka, Beijing announced the opening of a highway linking Metok, located just north of the McMahon Line with neighboring Bomi town.

How to fix Pakistan's Mad Mullahs and prevent another 26/11

November 26, 2013 


'The Kuber left Porbandar on the Saurashtra coast on November 14 and was next traced in Mumbai on November 26. It is a mystery where this boat was for 12 days.' 

'It was claimed that the Kuber was hijacked on open seas. But would the LeT have planned such an elaborate operation on the chance that they would be able to hijack a boat, asks Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) on the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks. 

First, the good news. There has been no major terrorist attack of Pakistani origin since the 2008 Mumbai massacre. The job of killing Indians has been outsourced to local outfits like the Indian Mujahideen.

Fortunately for India, the IM lacks expertise and wherewithal like RDX etc. On August 1, 2012, four bombs in Pune turned out to be damp squibs. Mere zeal is no substitute for efficiency in killing.

A noticeable thing about the IM attacks is that despite the outrage professed by it at the 'oppression' of minorities etc, there have been no suicide attacks.

Without publicly admitting so, it appears that Pakistan has indeed curbed the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's anti-India activities. 

But it would be downright dangerous to be complacent.

As the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan and internecine killings intensify in Pakistan, the conflict is bound to spill over into India.

In addition, the kind of toxic election campaign being run in India for the upcoming 2014 election will give a ready excuse to Pakistan-based terrorists to fight the 'communal' elements in India.

Never mind that more people have been slaughtered in the Land of the Pure (Pakistan) in the last one year alone than by the so-called Indian communalists in a decade.

New Government Will Face Security Challenges



Posted on December 1, 2013  

S Viswanathan

The current “prudence” in defence acquisitions will leave the Army short of firepower, the Air Force short of Multi-role Combat Aircraft and the Navy with an aging and obsolescent submarine fleet.
Addressing India’s top military commanders at the annual ‘Combined Commanders Conference’ on November 22, PM Dr Manmohan Singh alluded to the growing threats posed by “radicalism, terrorism, arms proliferation and sectarian conflict” in our oil-rich western neighbourhood and by rivalries in Asia-Pacific, to our east. He called for “establishing the right structures for higher defence management”, but cautioned that as a result of our current “economic slowdown”, we’ll “have to exercise prudence in defence acquisition plans and cut our coat according to our cloth”, on “the assumption of limited resource availability”.

Thanks to rampant populism and economic mismanagement, defence expenditure in India has reached an all-time low of an estimated 1.79% of GDP in the current financial year. This, at a time, when we are bending backwards in the face of blatant Chinese assertiveness across our eastern borders, with China rapidly improving communications and firepower in Tibet. On our western borders, a Pakistani regime, led by Nawaz Sharif, who has long-term ties with jihadi groups and refers to Kashmir as Pakistan’s “jugular vein”, may find it expedient to go slow on infiltration, as the winter snows close Himalayan infiltration routes. But, will Sharif continue to exercise restraint when the snows melt in June 2014? The current “prudence” being advocated in defence acquisitions will leave the Army short of firepower, including in mountain artillery, the Air Force short of essential Multi-role Combat Aircraft and the Navy with an aging and obsolescent submarine fleet. The UPA II government will be leaving office with the country’s treasury empty, its defence structures in need of drastic reform, after rejecting recommendations for structural changes in defence management by the Naresh Chandra Task Force and with its defence preparedness grossly inadequate.

Political mismanagement has led to prospects of deterioration in our relations with key South Asian neighbours. Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh is unquestionably the friendliest leader that India has in its South Asian neighbourhood. Yet we have let her down badly by failing to fulfil our promises on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta River and on the demarcation of the land boundary. Hasina’s rival Begum Khaleda Zia appears set to win if she chooses to participate in forthcoming elections. We are thus headed either for political volatility or for the assumption of office by a Zia regime. This would not only hasten persecution and exodus of minority Hindus but also revert to making Dhaka a centre for cross-border terrorism.

Across our Indian Ocean shores, we are set to face new challenges in Sri Lanka and Maldives. The PM’s inability to participate in the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo, because of partisan and populist pressures from Tamil Nadu, was an abdication of constitutional authority. UK’s David Cameron, who has not contributed a single penny for the welfare and rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils, emerged as their “saviour”. Would India’s influence in its neighbourhood and the welfare of Sri Lanka’s Tamils not been better served by the PM attending the Colombo Summit and taking up the issue of full implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution? Moreover, would a PM visit to Jaffna immediately after the Colombo Summit not have set the stage for streamlining our massive relief assistance in Sri Lanka’s northern province and for reaffirming and reasserting our pre-eminence in our South Asian neighbourhood?


With a new generation of economic reforms, which will further strengthen its already formidable economic sinews, China will step up its economic and military profile across our Indian Ocean neighbourhood. With the Islamist inclined Abdulla Yameen elected as its President, Maldives could move closer to a China-Pakistan axis. Any new government in New Delhi will inherit formidable national security and foreign policy challenges, even as it prepares to deal with serious economic issues. dadpartha@gmail.com

Obama’s security deal dooms U.S. to endless war


Posted on November 29, 2013

By Brahma Chellaney, The Washington Times, November 27, 2013



President Obama has decided to maintain U.S. military bases and conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan after bringing the longest war in America’s history there to an end next year. His decision, though, centered on keeping a substantial residual military force, risks locking the United States in a never-ending, low-intensity war in that lawless, rugged country post-2014, including continued cross-border drone strikes on targets in Pakistan.

The Bilateral Security Agreement reached between Washington and Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week defines a U.S.-led counterterrorism and training mission involving up to 12,000 NATO troops, mostly American, and lasting “until the end of 2024 and beyond” unless terminated with two years’ advance notice. This will make the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan virtually indefinite.

Mr. Obama’s decision in favor of strong military basing in Afghanistan — where there are currently about 45,000 American troops — stands in sharp contrast to his earlier action in pulling out all U.S. forces from Iraq after a decade-long American occupation of that country.

Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, or assembly of tribal leaders, put its imprimatur last Sunday on the agreement, which grants the United States important concessions, including a controversial immunity for American troops from Afghan law and permission for U.S. special operations forces to conduct antiterrorism raids on private Afghan homes. Washington leveraged the more than $4 billion annual security aid it has promised to secure these provisions.

However, rejecting Washington’s demand that the deal be signed by year’s end, Mr. Karzai — concerned over leaving behind a legacy as the key facilitator of a long-term U.S. military presence — has threatened to delay that action until his successor is elected in next April’s presidential election.

In any event, the United States needs a separate deal with the Afghan Taliban, or else its military bases would likely come under intense insurgent attacks post-2014. Indeed, the Obama administration is seeking to cut a broader deal with the Taliban to allow it to “honorably” end combat operations next year — an objective that has prompted it to kiss and make up with Pakistan, which shelters the top Taliban leadership.

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: An Evaluation



PR Chari
Visiting Professor, IPCS 

Some history would be of relevance here. 

The Line of Control (LoC) was envisioned by the Simla Agreement entered on 2 July 1972; it replaced the ceasefire line negotiated by the Karachi Agreement of 1 January 1949 and demarcated thereafter on the ground. Significantly, the ceasefire line and the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir came into existence after the Indo-Pak hostilities of 1947-48 and 1971. India had pressed for this change in nomenclature, urging that the ceasefire line had been disarranged by the hostilities in 1971. In truth, India had wished to deny the UN Military Observers’ Group ant role in administering the new border because its working was found intrusive and irksome. Two more facts. The LoC was only demarcated wherever the ceasefire line had been disarranged, and a confidential agreement was reached by Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to convert the LoC into an international border between the two countries. This latter agreement was never implemented. 

Fast forward to May 1998 and the reciprocal nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan. Great fears arose of nuclear conflict in South Asia, but an atomic peace was also emplaced under the rubric of nuclear deterrence. However, Pakistan’s irredentist effort to infiltrate its forces across the LoC in the Kargil sector led to a two-month long conflict over May-July 1999. Later, the Indo-Pak border confrontation crisis lasted from mid-December 2001 lasted till October 2002 following an attack on the Indian Parliament. The situation along the LOC rapidly deteriorated thereafter. 

Firings across the LoC increased in intensity over 2003. Artillery duels became a daily feature. The local population living along the LoC was forced to abandon their fields and homes. Border communications became hazardous. The possibility of a local cross-LoC conflict escalating and assuming larger proportions was always there. However, steps were also taken to normalize relations by re-starting the Delhi-Lahore bus service, offers to resume sporting events, returning the two High Commissioners (withdrawn after the Kargil conflict) to their posts, and so on. Thereafter, Pakistan offered the maintenance of a permanent ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003; later it was extended beyond grid reference NJ 9842 to the Siachen sector. This ceasefire agreement held up until recently. India also fenced off the LoC to check cross-border infiltration, despite Pakistan’s protests that this would alter the temporary character of the LoC. 

How and why was this decade-long ceasefire disrupted? Pakistan alleges that Indian forces attacked a Pakistani border post on 6 January 2013, killing one soldier. An Indian spokesman claimed this was in retaliation against Pakistani ceasefire violations. Then, on 8 January, India alleged that Pakistani forces crossed the LoC and killed two of its soldiers; one of them was beheaded leading to great outrage in India. Pakistan denied these allegations. On 15 January, a third skirmish led to the death of a Pakistani soldier. High level talks between military commanders of both sides were then held to de-escalate this situation. But these skirmishes have continued resulting in the death of some 12 Indian and 11 Pakistani military personnel till end October. A number of civilian casualties have also occurred. Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif had met in New York in September and agreed that their two Director Generals of Military Operations would meet to improve the atmospherics and stop these attacks. Sadly, they have yet to meet. But skirmishes and cross-border firings are continuing with a steady accretion to casualties.

Obama’s risky post-2014 Afghan gambit


Posted on November 29, 2013
BY BRAHMA CHELLANEY, The Japan Times, November 30, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has decided to keep U.S. military bases and conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan after bringing the longest war in America’s history there to an end in 2014. But its decision, centered on keeping a substantial residual military force, risks locking the United States in a low-intensity but never-ending war in that lawless, rugged country.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) reached between Washington and Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently defines a U.S.-led counterterrorism and training mission involving up to 12,000 NATO troops, mostly American, lasting “until the end of 2024 and beyond” unless terminated with two years’ advance notice. This will mean virtually an indefinite U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan with a mandate, as the text says, to “conduct combat operations.”

Obama’s decision in favor of strong military basing in Afghanistan — where there are currently about 45,000 American troops — stands in sharp contrast to his earlier action in pulling out all U.S. forces from Iraq after a decade-long American occupation of that country.

While there has been little U.S. debate about the merits of extended military engagement in Afghanistan, the Loya Jirga, or assembly of Afghan tribal leaders, on November 24 put its imprimatur on the BSA, which grants the U.S. important concessions, including a controversial immunity for American troops from Afghan law and permitting U.S. special operations forces to conduct antiterrorism raids on private Afghan homes. Washington leveraged a pledge of more than $4 billion in annual security aid to secure these provisions.

However, rejecting Washington’s demand that the deal be signed by yearend, Karzai — concerned over leaving behind a legacy as the main facilitator of a long-term U.S. military presence — has threatened to delay that action until his successor is elected in next April’s presidential election. Washington has warned it would begin planning for a complete troop withdrawal if the BSA was not signed by yearend.

In any event, the U.S. needs a separate deal with the Afghan Taliban, or else its military bases would likely come under intense insurgent attacks after 2014. Indeed, the Obama administration is seeking to cut a broader deal with the Taliban to allow it to “honorably end” combat operations next year — an objective that has prompted it to kiss and make up with Pakistan, which shelters the top Taliban leadership.

The U.S. recently restored its $1.6 billion aid flow to Pakistan, which had been blocked because that country never came clean over who helped Osama bin Laden hide for years in a military garrison town near its capital, Islamabad. The aid was suspended also because the Pakistani military establishment harbors the Afghan Taliban’s one-eyed chief, Mullah Mohammed Omar, and other senior Taliban leaders and aids jihadists who carry out cross-border attacks in India and Afghanistan.

Imperial Britain created many unnatural political constructs, including two countries that have searched vainly to shape a national identity — Afghanistan and Pakistan (or “Afpak” in Washingtonese). The Afpak belt, for the foreseeable future, is likely to remain a bastion of transnational terrorists, with the Durand Line legacy making Afghanistan and Pakistan virtual Siamese twins.

Creeping China

 December 1, 2013
By Brahma Chellaney

Brahma Chellaney picks apart China’s self-described “cabbage” strategy, designed to secure hegemony in Asia.


China’s growing geopolitical heft is emboldening its territorial creep in Asia. After laying claim formally to more than 80% of the South China Sea, it has just established a so-called air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, raising the odds of armed conflict with Japan and threatening the principle of freedom of navigation of the seas and skies. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic continues to nibble furtively at territory across the long, disputed Himalayan border with India.

Few seem to fathom the logic behind China’s readiness to take on several neighbors simultaneously. China is seeking to alter the status quo gradually as part of a high-stakes effort to extend its control to strategic areas and resources. President Xi Jinping’s promise of national greatness — embodied in the catchphrase “China dream” — is tied as much to achieving regional hegemony as to internal progress.

China’s approach reflects what the Chinese general Zhang Zhaozhong this year called a “cabbage” strategy: assert a territorial claim and gradually surround the area with multiple layers of security, thus denying access to a rival. The strategy relies on a steady progression of steps to outwit opponents and create new facts on the ground.

This approach severely limits rival states’ options by confounding their deterrence plans and making it difficult for them to devise proportionate or effective counter-measures. This is partly because the strategy — while bearing all the hallmarks of modern Chinese brinkmanship, including reliance on stealth, surprise, and a disregard for the risks of military escalation — seeks to ensure that the initiative remains with China.

The pattern has become familiar: construct a dispute, initiate a jurisdictional claim through periodic incursions, and then increase the frequency and duration of such intrusions, thereby establishing a military presence or pressuring a rival to cut a deal on China’s terms. What is ours is ours, the Chinese invariably claim, and what is yours is negotiable. For example, China says “no foundation for dialogue” with Japan exists unless the Japanese accept the existence of a territorial dispute over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.

The Undemocratic Hand Behind Thailand's Protests

November 30, 2013



Over the past week, observers of politics in Thailand have been treated to yet another public display of anti-government street protests that have sought to paralyze the elected administration. 

It is unfortunately a familiar sight to those well acquainted with Thailand, where there is a longstanding competition for power between the poorer, majority population living in rural areas and a landed minority elite in Bangkok. Not far beneath the surface of this misleading dichotomy is a tragic history of repression --the story of a nominally democratic nation that has struggled to put the military under true civilian control following no fewer than four violent massacres in the past 40 years. 

The last time I was involved with mass demonstrations in Bangkok in 2010, the protesters were wearing different colored t-shirts, but the fundamental issues remained the same. I had been sent there to serve as international counsel to the Red Shirts, who were facing a wide variety of violations to their human rights. They were protesting for their basic right to suffrage and against the self-appointed Democrat Party, whose friends in the court system had repeatedly banned popular parties, disqualified winning candidates and subverted democracy according to their own designs for the nation.

Back then, the unelected leadership ordered the military to fire upon the protesters, killing more than 90 innocent civilians. Now, some of these same former government officials, such as Suthep Thaugsuban -- who once said that Red Shirt protesters had died because they "ran into the sniper's bullets" -- have taken to the streets to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, rather than trying their luck at the ballot box. 

Bridge between Europe and Asia — Strategic Challenges in the Indian Ocean

Posted on November 29, 2013

Brahma Chellaney, Körber Policy Brief No. 1
Geopolitical rivalry in the Indian Ocean has increased. Several boundary, sovereignty and jurisdiction disputes threaten freedom of navigation. China has become the most active power in the region and is challenging the existing balance of power.
With interstate competition over resources in the Indian Ocean sharpening, the EU should assist in creating a predictable regulatory regime and contribute to monitoring and enforcement of internationally agreed rules.
The EU is already playing a limited security and political role in the Indian Ocean region, where it has important economic interests at stake. It should support regional cooperation to reduce the risks of unilateral action by any side and to help build long-term regional crisis stability.

The Indian Ocean, which links Europe with Asia, is becoming the new global center of trade and energy flows. Spanning more than 73 million square kilometers, this critical ocean region is likely to determine the wider geopolitics, maritime order, and balance of power in Asia and beyond. In fact, in no part of the world is the security situation so dynamic and in such flux as in the Indian Ocean. This region, extending from Australia to the Middle East and Southern Africa, promises to become the hub of global geopolitical competition.

The challenges in this region extend from traditional security threats to nontraditional and emerging challenges. The challenges are linked to its vast size: It is home to a third of the global population, with the littoral states there also accounting for 25 percent of the world’s landmass, 55 percent of its proven oil reserves, and 40 percent of its gas reserves. As symbolized by the 2004 Christmas-eve tsunami and by recurrent cyclones, the region is regularly battered by natural disasters. According to one estimate, 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters occur in this region alone.

The region’s littoral states are linked by a common history of sea faring. Yet, given that it has the world’s largest concentration of fragile or failing states, as exemplified by Somalia, Pakistan and the Maldives, this region represents the symbolic center of the global challenges of the 21st-century world — from terrorism and extremism to piracy and safety of sea lanes of communication. The Indian Ocean indeed covers the entire arc of Islam — from the Horn of Africa and the Saudi Arabian desert to Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago — and is racked by the world’s highest incidence of transnational terrorism.

The region is on the frontlines of climate change. It thus has states whose future is imperiled by global warming. Such states extend from the island-nations of Mauritius and the Maldives to Bangladesh, whose land area is less than half the size of Germany but with a population more than double. Because it is made up largely of low-lying floodplains and deltas, Bangladesh risks losing 17 percent of its land and 30 percent of its food production by 2050 due to saltwater incursion resulting from the rising ocean level, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If, in the future, states like the Maldives and Mauritius were submerged, what would be the legal status of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the mineral wealth that these zones hold?

In the Indian Ocean region the old world order coexists uneasily with the new order.

The Indian Ocean illustrates other nontraditional security challenges as well — from environmental pollution, as exemplified by the brown cloud of sooty haze hanging over South Asia, and degradation of coastal ecosystems to a mercantilist approach to energy supplies and the juxtapositioning of energy interests with foreign-policy interests. Put simply, this is the region where old and new security challenges converge. In this region, the old order — as epitomized by the Anglo-American military base at Diego Garcia and the French-administered Réunion and other islands — coexists uneasily with the new order.

Because of the Indian Ocean’s importance to global trade and energy flows and the potential vulnerability of the chokepoints around it, sea-lane security has become a pressing concern. Important regional and extra-regional powers have sought to build maritime security by forging strategic partnerships with key littoral states in the Indian Ocean rim. The partnerships, principally aimed at safeguarding the various “gates” to the Indian Ocean, incorporate trade accords, naval training and joint exercises, counter-piracy operations, energy cooperation, and strategic dialogue.

The chokepoints, and the states adjacent to them, include the Strait of Malacca (Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia), the Strait of Hormuz (Iran and Oman), the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea and Yemen), as well as the Cape of Good Hope and the Mozambique Channel (South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar).

There are, however, a range of other strategic concerns in the Indian Ocean. Some players, including Iran and the United States, are not yet party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China, although a party, has sought to unilaterally interpret UNCLOS’s provisions in its favor to assert maritime claims, while refusing to accept the Convention’s dispute-settlement mechanism. The Philippines, with apparent U.S. support, has filed a complaint against China with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), but China has simply declined to participate in the proceedings. Iran seized an Indian oil tanker in the autumn of 2013, holding it for nearly a month, but India could not file a case against Teheran with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Boundary, sovereignty, and jurisdiction issues carry serious conflict potential.

The Other Arab Awakening



 November 30, 2013 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — AND so it turns out that there were actually two Arab awakenings. 


Josh Haner/The New York Times 

There are the radical revolutions you’ve read about in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya, none of which yet have built stable, inclusive democracies. But then there are the radical evolutions that you’ve not read about, playing out in Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf monarchies. The evolutions involve a subtle but real shift in relations between leaders and their people, and you can detect it from even a brief visit to Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Gulf leaders still have no time for one-man, one-vote democracy. But, in the wake of the Arab Spring, they’re deeply concerned with their legitimacy, which they are discovering can no longer just be bought with more subsidies — or passed from father to son. So more and more leaders are inviting their people to judge them by how well they perform — how well they improve schools, create jobs and fix sewers — not just resist Israel or Iran or impose Islam. 

And, thanks in large part to the Internet, more people are doing just that. The role of the Internet was overrated in Egypt and Tunisia. But it is underrated in the Gulf, where, in these more closed societies, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are providing vast uncontrolled spaces for men and women to talk to each other — and back at their leaders. “I don’t read any local newspapers anymore,” a young Saudi techie told me. “I get all my news from Twitter.” So much for government-controlled newspapers. 

Saudi Arabia alone produces almost half of all tweets in the Arab world and is among the most Twitter- and YouTube-active nations in the world. By far, those Saudis with the most Twitter and YouTube followers tend to be Wahhabi fundamentalist preachers, but gaining on them are satirists, comedians and commentators, who poke fun at all aspects of Saudi society, including — usually indirectly — the religious establishment, which is no longer off limits.

Billions from Beijing Africans Divided over Chinese Presence



11/29/2013 

By Bartholomäus Grill in Bagamayo, Tanzania 

Chinese companies have pumped billions into Africa to secure access to natural resources, boosting countries' economies along the way. Ordinary citizens aren't reaping the benefits, though, and have become increasingly wary of the new investors. 

In a three-part series, SPIEGEL is exploring fundamental changes occurring in Africa -- a continent the West has long written off, but is now being embraced by other countries. This is Part I of the series. An introduction can be read here

Everything is as it has always been: decayed rows of houses, weathered doorframes with intricate carvings, potholed dirt roads, fishing boats rotting on the beach and, in the middle of it all, the Boma, a stone fortress built by the former German conquerors in Bagamayo, a sleepy coastal town in Tanzania. 

Bagamayo was the capital of the colony of German East Africa from 1888 to 1891, when the administrative seat was moved to Dar es Salaam because the shore in Bagamayo was too shallow for a real seaport. Since then, time seems to have stood still. 

"But soon nothing will be as it once was in Bagamayo," says Marie Shaba, "because now the new rulers of the world, the Chinese, are coming." 

The 65-year-old radio journalist is wearing a bright, mango-yellow kitenge, the traditional dress worn by Tanzanian women. She calls herself a cultural activist. For years, Shaba has been fighting to have Bagamayo, an important arena for the slave trade in the 19th century and for colonial history, declared a United Nations World Heritage Site. 

But now Shaba fears that the sleepy town will disappear in the waves of progress. 

This spring, Bagamayo was the focus of a story in international business news, when more than 400 newspapers worldwide reported that China was making a low-interest loan of $10 billion (€7.4 billion) available for the construction of a modern container terminal 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of the city, and also planned to fund the establishment of a special economic zone in the hinterlands behind the port. 

"This is good for Tanzania, very good. It's a poor country that will be making a giant step forward," says Janson Huang, 36. It's also good for him and his company. Huang manages the local office of Chinese construction company Group Six International in Dar es Salaam. A short, wiry man with a sparse moustache, he is dressed casually in an open, gray-and-white striped shirt and dark slacks. Huang speaks English well, and he speaks openly and directly. 

This is unusual, as Chinese investors tend to shy away from the media. All other inquiries SPIEGEL made with Chinese companies registered in Tanzania were either rejected or not answered at all.

A Giant Awakens: Inside Africa's Economic Boom



 

AFP 

Trade union members protest in a 2008 national strike against the South Africa's rising cost of living. 
In roughly a decade, Africa has gone from being labeled "the hopeless continent" to enjoying an unprecedented boom. In a three-part series, SPIEGEL explores this transformation -- its drivers, winners and losers -- and asks if it can last. 

The magazine cover bore a completely black background. In the middle, an outline the shape of Africa framed a fierce-looking fighter toting a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Above the picture was the title, "The hopeless continent." 

 This cover of British magazine the Economist, the world's most influential newsmagazine for business and financial topics, appeared in May 2000. The issue featured a deeply pessimistic report that tore Africa to pieces, presenting it as a lost continent, eternally plagued by tribal wars, famine and mass poverty. 

But since the turn of the millennium, the world has a different take on Africa thanks to an economic boom that refuses to fit into the usual distorted picture. The same voices that once proclaimed the continent dead are now predicting a rebirth for Africa, the awakened giant with nearly incalculable natural resources (around 40 percent of the world's raw materials and 60 percent of its uncultivated arable land), fast-growing markets and a young, highly motivated population. 

Indeed, while he was still president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo proclaimed that the 21st century would be "the century of Africa." 

A Second 'Scramble for Africa'? 

Here are the facts behind the fiction: No other continent has developed as rapidly in the last decade as Africa, where real economic growth was between 5 and 10 percent annually. In oil-rich countries, such as Angola, it was a possibly record-breaking 22.6 percent in 2007. 

A World Bank study shows that 17 of the 50 national economies currently displaying the greatest economic progress are in Africa. The gross domestic product of the continent as a whole -- over $1.7 trillion (€1.3 trillion) -- is nearly equal to that of Russia. 

Africa is showing its true potential and offers "myriad opportunities" that investors can no longer afford to ignore, says the German consultancy firm Roland Berger. 

With not much going on in Europe and the United States at the moment as a result of the financial crisis and ensuing austerity policies, investors and speculators are discovering the African continent, where investment funds that speculate in natural resources, food and agricultural land promise fabulous yields. 

This development has historians talking about a potential second "scramble for Africa," comparable to the period in the late 19th century when European colonial powers carved up the continent among themselves and plundered its resources. Now, in the age of globally unleashed capitalism, new competitors have entered the race, including India, Brazil and smaller emerging markets, such as Turkey. First and foremost in this modern-day scramble, though, is China.

Why Ukraine Matters



The past week has seen massive protests in Ukraine in response to President Viktor Yanukovich’s bungling of an EU trade pact. It is one of those seemingly obscure international events that are easy to miss, especially in the middle of the holiday season. 

Yet the events in Ukraine matter and not just because what they bode for the future of Europe and an increasingly desperate Vladimir Putin, but because this is a story that will continue to resonate in the years to come. 

Ukraine, by most standards, should be an economic juggernaut. It has ample natural resources, a highly educated, diligent workforce and is situated in an advantageous geographical position. So the story of Ukraine shows just how a country with everything going for it can suffer so much, just as it will hopefully show how a troubled society can finally find its way forward. 

A Short History of Ukraine 

Even among the sordid histories of Eastern Europe, Ukraine is particularly tragic. Over the centuries, Ukraine was ruled by the Mongols, the Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland before it was overtaken by the Russian Empire during the 18th century. It endured the Holodomor—forced starvation under Stalin—in the ‘30s and bore the brunt of Hitler’s armies in World War II. Somehow, through it all, it maintained a national culture, language and identity. 
  

It declared its formal independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, as its neighbors to the west prospered—particularly Poland, where I lived in the late 90’s— Ukraine found only chaos and kleptocracy, culminating in the Ruble crisis of 1998, which led to the collapse of the Ukrainian economy.

Are Europeans Giving Up on Europe?


Countries like Italy and Spain are turning away from the world, with grave consequences for the European project.


A protester participates in a demonstration against government austerity measures in Oviedo, Spain, on November 29. (Reuters)
The collective mood of a nation mired in a prolonged economic recession shows many of the symptoms of clinical depression: despair, fatalism, an inability to make decisions, lack of motivation, and irritability. This is one of the impressions I got from a recent trip to Spain and Italy, two nations I know well and visit often. While both countries have recently made small strides on the path to recovery, I nevertheless came away with the strong sense that their economies are in recession and their societies are in depression. In the course of my travels, I also felt more than ever before that Europeans have fallen out of love with Europe—or, more precisely, with the idea of building a Europe-wide union.
 
Hopelessness and irascibility are present in spades in statements by politicians, activists, and opinion leaders, and in media reports on the mood of the  “people in the street.” Pessimism is the default attitude, and there is a notable paucity of the kinds of exciting ideas and proposals that energize society. All of this is understandable. When a family suffers a major trauma, it is natural for its members to react by becoming more self-absorbed and withdrawing from the world. The same is true for countries.
In both Italy and Spain—two of the hardest-hit economies in Europe—I found a tendency to turn inward and focus on events at home rather than developments abroad. My visit to Spain, for example, coincided with an incident in the Catalan Parliament in which a lawmaker took off his sandal and threatened Rodrigo Rato, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who was testifying at a hearing about the large, bailed-out Spanish bank he had led, Bankia.

The Foreign Policy Essay: Erik Gartzke on “Fear and War in Cyberspace”

By Daniel Byman
Sunday, December 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Cyberwar is all the rage, and with it questions on what new technologies mean for society and—Lawfare specialties—the implications of these changes for surveillance, privacy, intelligence, and the laws of war. However, we may have rushed to explore the trees without looking at the overall forest. Erik Gartzke, a professor at the University of Essex and the University of California San Diego, offers here a short version of his longer article on cyberwar, arguing that its importance as a coercive tool is limited at best and that these technologies favor the strong (i.e. us), not the weak.

Erik Gartzke is Professor of Government at the University of Essex and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California San Diego.

In the depths of the depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt cautioned Americans against letting their imaginations loose on the unknown. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Contemporary leaders are instead telling Americans to be afraid. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that “the next Pearl Harbor…could very well be a cyber attack.” Press reports indicate that U.S. federal spending on cyber security will grow by roughly $800 million (to $4.7 billion) next year, even as the overall Pentagon budget is cut by $3.9 billion.

Should we fear cyberspace? The internet is said to be a revolutionary leveler, reducing the hard won military advantages of western powers, even as the dependence of developed nations on computer networks leaves them vulnerable to attack. Incidents like the Stuxnet worm and cyber attacks against U.S. government computers, apparently launched from servers in China, seem to testify to the need for concern. Yet, even if these details are correct—and some are not—there is no reason to believe that the internet constitutes an Achilles heel for the existing world order. To the contrary, cyberwar promises major advantages for status quo powers like the United States.

Contrasting a Logic of Possibilities with a Logic of Consequences

The ability to harm is ubiquitous. Anyone passing on the street could just punch you in the face. Still, violence is relatively rare in large part because little is typically gained from most potential uses of force. Perpetrators must ask not just “what harm can I inflict?” but “how can I benefit by inflicting harm?” In short, cyberwar requires a logic of consequences. Just as a morbid fear of being sucker punched at random may be misplaced, concern about cyberwar can be exaggerated if there is little to suggest how internet aggression can be of benefit to potential perpetrators.

Central Asia: Dim Security Prospects Ahead?



Central Asia: Dim Security Prospects Ahead?


As U.S. interest in the region wanes, the prospects for Central Asia security are uncertain at best.
By Georgiy Voloshin
December 03, 2013
As Washington prepares to pull most of its troops out of Afghanistan next year, neighboring Central Asian states are increasingly worried about their own security and the stability of their southern borders. Of the five post-Soviet republics, Tajikistan, which currently remains the poorest country in the region, with over 38 percent of its population living below the World Bank’s poverty line, has been particularly exposed to the growing terrorist threat from across the border with Afghanistan.
Growing Insecurity

In late September, the Tajik Interior Ministry reported the arrest of a group of ten radicals presumably linked to Al-Qaeda, which is believed to have provided them with special military training in secret camps located in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Tajikistan’s security services, they had purportedly planned to stage large-scale terrorist attacks against government buildings and civilians in the country’s capital, Dushanbe, in the run-up to the presidential election that took place on November 6. Three weeks later, three members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an extremist organization banned in all five Central Asian states, were detained in the north of Tajikistan, at the heart of the Fergana Valley, a particularly unstable region densely populated by ethnic Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.

Speaking at a press conference in late October, Nikolay Bordyuzha who has served as Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a politico-military bloc dominated by Russia, said that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan might pose a serious challenge to Central Asia’s security. Furthermore, in Bordyuzha’s words, hundreds of Central Asians who may now be fighting government forces in Syria would sooner or later come home for the same purpose of defying local regimes and establishing on their ruins an Islamic state. While Tajikistan has long been considered as the CSTO’s weakest member most in need of military assistance to survive in an increasingly hostile regional environment, other states are growing equally dependent on outside security aid.

Gripped by chronic political instability linked to poor economic growth and endless power struggles between its northern and southern clans, Kyrgyzstan has already lived through two popular revolutions, in 2005 and 2010. As the country’s economy continues to stagnate and its political opposition is actively seeking to overthrow the government by denting its domestic credibility, arrests of Islamist radicals, especially from Hizb ut-Tahrir, have become especially frequent of late. These alarming trends notwithstanding, Kyrgyz authorities actually stuck to their word by notifying on November 14 the local U.S. Embassy about the forthcoming closure of the Manas Air Transit Center, a U.S. military facility located at the Bishkek airport. Opened as an airbase in the wake of the 2001 antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan, Manas is now being used by American and allied forces to transport home their military personnel and some of the equipment from Afghan battlefields.

While both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are regarded more stable, their respective security contexts are far from idyllic. The two countries face power transitions in the near future, since the Uzbek and Kazakh presidents will turn respectively 76 and 74 next year. Since the 1999 and 2004 bombings orchestrated by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tashkent has largely succeeded in driving the extremist organization out of Uzbek territory. However, if an upcoming political transition were to lead to acute struggles for influence among rival clans and, as a result, protracted domestic uncertainty, the country might see the quick return of homegrown terrorism. In Kazakhstan, a wave of terrorist attacks against the local security services, which took place between 2011 and 2012, much to the surprise of the ruling regime, suddenly shattered the myth of its peaceful rise to the pinnacle of internal stability in Central Asia.