11 December 2013

**** ‘Victory’ in the Valley

Wed Dec 11 2013,
Syed Ata Hasnain

Define what it means before you decide what the army should do.

For the first time in years, a newspaper's leadership has thrown up a serious strategic issue for debate. Kashmir is far too complex for inexperienced minds to fully comprehend and there are so many stakeholders it confounds even those who have a semblance of an idea. In a recent article in this paper ('Disarming Kashmir', IE, December 7, goo.gl/SWPD7G), Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta talks about victory in the 24-year standoff and the necessity of an early withdrawal of the army from Kashmir's hinterland. We must first highlight what Gupta is seeking through this thought-provoking article. He says the army has become weary and therefore less professional, having lost soldiers in tactical operations this year. He wants the army to strengthen the LoC and de-escalate in the Valley, because Kashmiris, he says, must get a part of the "peace" dividend. He takes a dig, saying that some respected general with five tenures in the Valley had told him that, having defeated the Lashkar, the army has only been building golf courses and guest houses for the last five years. He adds that if any of these bad boys show their faces in Kashmir again, the army can come back to sort them out. He claims that the military objective in Kashmir (if any was spelt out) has been achieved and, that the UPA government has veritably introduced a new concept of governance — veto power (on strategic decisions) for the army. One of the most important points Gupta makes is, "you cannot find a Kashmir settlement with Pakistan before embracing your own Kashmiris and restoring trust with them first".

On the face of it, this article evokes negatives all the way but re-reads throw up issues which need serious pondering. Unfortunately, not many are aware of the degree of intellectual analysis that the army itself has done of its role in Kashmir. It recently organised a full deliberation on the concept of victory at the Army War College, Mhow.

The first question is: have we ever enunciated an aim in Kashmir? In all these years, there never has been a clearly stated political aim given to the security forces. The informally stated military aim was stabilisation by controlling infiltration and eliminating terrorists. No one realises that in such situations, political and military aims cannot be separated. In 2011, we enunciated our own joint politico-military aim for our commanders — "integrate Jammu and Kashmir with mainstream India, politically, economically, socially and psychologically". We were clear that eliminating terrorists was the easiest part of this war, that eliminating "terrorism" was the real challenge. I wish Gupta had faulted the army for not demanding the articulation of a politico-military aim as fighting without an aim is actually unfair. The lack of such an aim results in exactly what Gupta has done — declaring victory prematurely. Victory has to be measured against an aim, or else all kinds of versions are thrown around. We also have to measure victory against a realistic assessment of the future. Afghanistan 2014 with all its imponderables looms before us; any idea of victorious peace and subsequent actions has to be connected to it. Incidentally, I am speaking of victory as not against the people of Kashmir but for them, and against the intent of Pakistan, the separatists and terror groups.

An idea whose time has perhaps come

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 |  
Ashok K Mehta |


The creation of a permanent Chief of Defence Staff/ Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee was a political decision, given a bureaucratic and military colouring out of unfounded apprehensions

Trekking last week in the remote mountains of Pokhra, Nepal, which provides the strategic Gorkha connection, I was told by the Indian Army Pension Paying Colonel in Pokhra, Srikand Mooley, that the worthy Lt General Anil Chait, currently Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, was slated to become the new Chief of Army Staff next month when incumbent, Gen Bikram Singh would be appointed the first Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, the middle path to the feared Chief of Defence Staff. He quoted The Business Standard as the source of the story. On returning to New Delhi, I checked the veracity of the stunning news. Thereafter, I am convinced it is wishful thinking.

The idea of a CDS/ Permanent Chairman COSC — currently it is a rotating post, the senior-most service chief assuming the appointment — has been doing the rounds since the early 1970 when the victor of the 1971 War, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, was expected to be appointed CDS. Of the Kargil Group of Ministers’ 340 recommendations, all but one, the CDS, were accepted. It was said the Government required greater political consultation on CDS. Suddenly in July 2001, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sushil Kumar was sounded out about being appointed India’s first CDS. An office was earmarked and rehearsals of Guard of Honour held under supervision of Col KK Sharma, HQ Delhi Area. NDTV carried it as ‘breaking news’ throughout that day and the next. Then suddenly the screen went blank — end of CDS story.

The Naresh Chandra Task Force established in May 2011, unlike the Kargil Review Committee and the subsequent GoM on it which carried out the country’s first ever Strategic Defence and Security Review was tasked to ‘review existing processes, procedures and practices in the National Security System and suggest measures for strengthening national security apparatus, including non conventional areas having bearing on overall security’. Further, its members were not Ministers but retired civil and military bureaucrats. It was a limited effort.

The 130-page NCTF report was submitted in June 2012 to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who directed the Ministries concerned to submit their recommendations within three months so that by end-September 2012, the National Security Council Secretariat, headed by Lt Gen Prakash Menon, could present a consolidated paper to the Prime Minister’s Office/National Security Adviser, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon. Not surprisingly, the Union Ministry of Defence first sat over the 97 issues raised in the report relating to the Defence Ministry, and when nudged, responded by rejecting the two key ones: Creation of a permanent post of Chairman COSC without undermining the autonomy of single service chiefs; and promotion of synergy in civil-military relations by cross-posting military and civilian officers up to the level of Directors over the next five years to each other’s headquarters.

From Jan, 100 engg colleges to get virtual lessons from IIT professors

New Delhi, Wed Dec 11 2013
A hundred engineering colleges from across the country will in January switch to a new time-table with half of the lessons delivered virtually by IIT professors. The move comes as part of an ambitious plan to take top notch course content and high quality faculty-student interaction to India's many engineering colleges. Phase I of the Quality Enhancement in Engineering Education (QEEE) programme kick starts on January 2, 2014 as the chosen 100 odd engineering colleges begin a new semester.

As many as nine subjects, including Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering and Mathematics among others, will be co-taught by senior IIT professors along with the regular college faculty.

Sample the draft new timetable that has been drawn up for this new age classroom. A Monday morning lesson across the 100 colleges will start at 8 am with a lesson on 'Wireless Connection' by IIT Kanpur's Prof A Jagannathan. IIT Bombay's Prof Neela Natraj would teach 'Linear Algebra' in the next hour, followed by Prof C Balaji of IIT Madras who would hold forth on 'Heat Transfer' for Mechanical Engineering. From 11 am to noon, Prof B S Murthy would lecture on 'Engineering Fluid Dynamics' while IIT Delhi's Prof Saurabh Bansal would deliver the last virtual lecture of the day on 'Operating Systems'. Similar daily lesson schedules with lectures beaming out from various IITs have been shared with the colleges.

From the Dr K N Modi University in the Tonk district of Rajasthan to the Don Bosco College of Engineering and Technology (DBCET) at Azara in Assam and the Sagar Institute of Research and Technology in Madhya Pradesh, a range of colleges are waiting to see how this experiment at bridging the quantity-quality divide pans out.

The QEEE's 'Direct to Student' programme will be backed by supplemental evening e-tutorials by senior students and industry experts in a study circle setting. Ninety minutes of such e-tutorials per week are expected to take off initially. E-labs involving real time online access to experiments conducted at top five labs will also be a part of the larger plan, as will a range of e-books and vocational augmentation courses.

"Engineering apart, we hope to launch similar virtual modules across several other disciplines. The virtual lectures will be recorded and later put on a QEEE portal that is being developed and later we hope to also broadcast them", a senior official in the HRD ministry said. This novel pedagogical project also demands investment in technology. The chosen 100 colleges are busy putting in place the stipulated infrastructure-servers in well-equipped and adequately cooled rooms, 4mbps Internet connectivity, stable LAN between institute server and classroom desktops and student PCs, classrooms with two projectors, screens, audio video systems, cameras with tripods and DTH set top boxes among other requirements.

INS Vikramaditya and the Aircraft Carrier Debate

INS Vikramaditya
A new carrier like India’s does more than just denote blue-water capability.
By Abhijit Singh
December 10, 2013

The Indian Navy has been energized by the commissioning of its new aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. Coming two months after another significant achievement – the nuclear reactor of the Arihant, India’s first indigenous nuclear powered submarine, going critical – the Vikramaditya is being seen as a game changer, with the potential to transform the Indian Navy’s profile in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond.

The ship’s proportions and capabilities are indeed significant. At 45,400 tons, the Vikamaditya is considerably larger than any ship the Indian Navy has ever had. Its primary aviation assets, the Kamov-31 helicopters and MiG 29K multirole fighter aircraft – the mainstay of its integral combat capability – are among the most advanced in the world. In addition, the naval version of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) may also be positioned onboard, making the Vikramaditya the first Indian aircraft carrier to operate two aircraft of the Short Take off but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) variety.

Interestingly, Vikramaditya’s commissioning seems to have re-ignited an old debate among maritime analysts: of the relevance of aircraft carriers in a maritime contemporary context. Proponents of aircraft carriers argue it constitutes the core of maritime strategy and must play a central part in a blue-water navy’s operational plans. Opponents posit that the aircraft carrier’s high vulnerability (to new disruptive weapons and technologies), and inadequate logistical sustainability render it an irrelevant asset. Not only is it a financially expensive proposition, they point out, it is also incapable of projecting significant offensive power. The fact that it is virtually defenseless against underwater attacks, long-range strategic airpower and ballistic missiles makes it a near liability in war.

As compelling as the criticism appears, there is a more nuanced rationale for retaining the giant ships. Modern day maritime discourse requires such ships to be located in a new conceptual framework. Ocean-going navies today need three types of conventional assets. The first category comprises “hard-power” assets: fighting platforms like destroyers, frigates, missile boats and attack submarines meant for the real combat operations in a naval battle. These are used in both offensive and defensive operations, and are meant to influence the tempo and outcome of a maritime conflict. The second lot is of “soft-power” assets like hospital ships, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) platforms, survey vessels, etc. These provide a valuable regional (and global) service and are crucial for a navy’s soft-power outreach. Finally, and most significantly, a navy needs assets for “power projection” – a critical component of a nation’s maritime strategy. Power projection assets are an embodiment of a nation’s strategic capability and political intent. Navies strive to accrete power and project it far beyond the home country as a metric of national influence and their own regional relevance. Aircraft carriers fall into this category.

Letter from Kurdistan

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Reva Bhalla
At the edge of empires lies Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds. The jagged landscape has long been the scene of imperial aggression. For centuries, Turks, Persians, Arabs, Russians and Europeans looked to the mountains to buffer their territorial prizes farther afield, depriving the local mountain dwellers a say in whose throne they would ultimately bow to.

The hot temperament of this borderland was evident in an exchange of letters between Ottoman Sultan Selim I and Safavid Shah Ismail I shortly before the rival Turkic and Persian empires came to blows at the 1514 Battle of Chaldiran in northern Kurdistan. The Ottoman sultan, brimming with confidence that his artillery-equipped janissaries would hold the technological advantage on the battlefield, elegantly denigrated his Persian foes:

Ask of the sun about the dazzle of my reign;

Inquire of Mars about the brilliance of my arms.

Although you wear a Sufi crown, I bear a trenchant sword,

And he who holds the sword will soon possess the crown.

Safavid Shah I, also writing in Turkish, poetically retorted:

Should one embrace the bride of worldly rule too close,
 His lips will kiss those of the radiant sword ...

Bitter experience has taught that in this world of trial
, He who falls upon the house of 'Ali always falls.

The armies fought to the limits of their empires and, after a series of wars culminating in the Treaty of Zuhab of 1639, the Zagros Mountains came to define the borderland between the Ottomans and Persians, with the Kurds stuck in the middle.
A Rivalry Reborn

The Turkic-Persian competition is again being fought in Kurdistan, only this time, energy pipelines have taken the place of gilded cavalry. At a recent energy conference in the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil, I listened as hundreds of energy executives murmured excitedly in the audience as Ashti Hawrami, the minister of natural resources for Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, declared in perfect, British-taught English that an oil pipeline connecting Kurdish oil fields to Turkey is complete, operational and will be pumping oil by the end of the year with or without Baghdad's consent. This, effectively, was as much a Kurdish declaration of independence as it was a Turkish-backed Kurdish declaration of war against Baghdad and its Persian sponsors.

Roughly 25 million Kurds occupy a region that stretches from the eastern Taurus Mountains in Turkey through the Jazira Plateau of northeastern Syria across the mountains and plateaus of southeastern Anatolia before dead-ending into the northern spine of the Zagros Mountains, which divide Iran and Iraq. This is a territory spread across four nations with bitter histories and a shared commitment to prevent Kurdish aspirations for independence from eroding their territorial integrity. For Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, this restive buffer had to be preserved and contained, though it could also be exploited. The fratricidal tendencies of the Kurds, bred by their divisive mountainous home, gave the surrounding states a useful tool to undermine one another whenever the need arose.

As power changed from indigenous empires to colonial hands, from monarchs to Baathist tyrants, from hardcore secularists to Islamists, the Kurds remained too divided and weak to become masters of their own fate able to establish a sovereign Kurdish homeland. The Kurds themselves are divided and sequestered along geographical, tribal, linguistic, political and ideological lines across the four states they inhabit. But unique circumstances over the past decade enabled a politically coherent Iraqi Kurdistan to temporarily defy its own history and inch toward quasi-independence.
A String of Good Fortune

The chain of events began with the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein. His attempts to eradicate Iraq's Kurdish population through chemical attacks in the Anfal campaign of the late 1980s and other aggressions in the region eventually led to the creation of a U.S.-imposed no-fly zone in northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. With the threat in Baghdad effectively neutralized and U.S. troops covering Mesopotamia, Iraq's Kurdish leadership put aside their differences to form the Kurdistan Regional Government, further solidifying the boundaries of the northern autonomous zone.

Ultimately, the United States was a strong but unreliable protector for the Kurds. When U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, a nervous Kurdistan looked to energy firms as their next-best insurance policy. So long as Western energy firms were committed to making money in northern Iraq, their presence would give Arbil the leverage it needed to balance against a government in Baghdad, slowly re-strengthening under Shiite dominance and committed to keeping Kurdish oil revenues under its control.

But as tensions with Baghdad grew over the distribution of energy revenues, the Iraqi Kurds unexpectedly found a sponsor in Ankara. The moderate Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party had effectively neutered the military's political influence in Turkey and was ready to experiment with a new strategy toward its Kurdish population. Instead of suppressing Kurdish autonomy with an iron fist, Ankara went from regarding Kurds as confused "mountain Turks" to recognizing Kurdish language and cultural rights and launching its most ambitious peace negotiation to date with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. This policy of engagement extended to Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Turkish government was earnestly eyeing Kurdish oil and natural gas to fuel Turkey's expensive energy appetite and loosen Russia's energy grip over Ankara.

At this point, Iran was too preoccupied to effectively balance against Turkey's deepening involvement in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iranian regime was busy defending its allies in Syria and Lebanon while trying to manage a highly antagonistic relationship with the United States. Meanwhile, Baghdad had its hands full in trying to manage intra-Shiite rivalries and fending against a reinvigorated jihadist threat spurred by the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the Syrian civil war -- all while trying to prevent the Kurds from breaking out on their own.

A cooperative Ankara, a weak Damascus, a preoccupied Tehran, an overwhelmed Baghdad and a host of anxious investors formed the ingredients for an audacious pipeline project. It began furtively in 2012 as a natural gas pipeline designed to feed the domestic Kurdish market. When the pipeline quietly skirted past the power plant it was supposed to feed, underwent a conversion to transport oil and began heading northward to Turkey, the secret was out: Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government were working to circumvent Baghdad and independently export Kurdish energy.

As the pipeline construction progressed, Kurdish peshmerga forces continued spreading beyond formal Kurdistan Regional Government boundaries in disputed areas and held their ground against demoralized Iraqi army forces. And in the name of guarding against a real and persistent jihadist threat, Kurdish forces built deep, wide ditches around the city of Arbil and are now building one around the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, marking the outer bounds of a slowly expanding Kurdish sphere of influence.
A Complicated Future

We have now arrived at the question of when, and not if, Kurdish oil will flow to Turkey without Baghdad's consent. The completion of the tie-in of the pipeline at a newly constructed pumping and metering station at Fishkhabor near the Turkish border, bypassing the station controlled by Iraqi federal authorities, marks the boldest foreign policy move that Turkey has made in a very long time.

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India Wins Big With Global Trade Deal

The WTO’s first global trade deal saw India accomplish an important diplomatic objective.

By Ankit Panda
December 10, 2013

On Saturday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its first global trade deal since its founding in 1995, after nearly two decades of negotiation (a side effect of consensus-based deal-making). The deal, known as the “Bali package,” was approved by the 159 members of the WTO and brought momentum to broader talks of a global free trade regime. India had long been perceived as an obstacle to the conclusion of a deal due to its vociferous refusal to yield on any measures that would challenge its grain subsidies, a non-starter politically in a country that continues to wrangle with the world’s largest population living below the poverty line. Indian trade negotiators managed to stave off the issue of subsidy limits for another day, allowing the agreement to pass without any provisions it found disagreeable. The deal reinvigorates hopes that international multilateral trade negotiations can be productive.

The WTO accord was reveled over the weekend in Bali, Indonesia and generally reduces the barriers for cross-border commerce among member states, while safeguarding food security in developing nations such as India. The deal additionally targets bureaucratic delays among its member states and aims to dramatically reduce red trap in global trade and commerce.

India’s voice on food subsidies at the WTO was in diametric opposition to the United States’ policy preferences in the trade deal. In April 2013, U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Michael Punke, called out India’s price-distorting subsidies: “The G20 proposal last fall related to TRQ administration represents the type of initiative that is calibrated to our current context. We remain ready to address this proposal. While not perfect, its scope does not call into question fundamental balances in the agriculture sector, and it aims to promote trade. Nor is it technically difficult to negotiate. … The G33 proposal on stockholding of food put forward by India is exactly the opposite. Many in Geneva have expressed concerns about this proposal from the beginning, while also expressing willingness to consider the proposal with an open mind. For four months the United States and others have engaged extensively to learn more, even in the face of incomplete information. But unfortunately these intensive discussions of the proposal have revealed more causes for concern, not fewer.”

Hagel Softens on Troop Deal, Gives Karzai Until February - But Not April

December 9, 2013

After weeks of insisting that a post-2014 troop deal be signed by the end of the year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel now says that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has until February’s NATO meeting.

Stephanie Gaskell is associate editor and senior reporter for Defense One. She previously covered the Pentagon for Politico. Gaskell has covered war, politics and breaking news for nearly 20 years, including at the Associated Press, the New York Post and the New York Daily News. She has reported ... Full Bio

Hagel met with the Afghan defense minister in Kabul this weekend -- but not Karzai – and said a decision has to be made before next February’s meeting of NATO defense ministers, backing off the administration’s initial demands that the deal is done by the end of the year.

Hagel said the U.S. still wants a deal by Dec. 31 and said he was reassured by the defense minister that the deal, which was overwhelmingly approved by the loya jirga, would be inked by then. Asked by reporters in Kabul what the final cutoff date is for a troop deal, Hagel said, “There will be at some point here a cutoff point. And I'm not prepared to give a date on that. But I would say that one of the things you might want to look at is the NATO defense ministers' ministerial meeting at the end of February. And some answer's going to be required at that NATO ministerial.”

The shift in the deadline shows that while the U.S. is growing tired of Karzai’s growing demands and wants a deal in place sooner rather than later, there is still wiggle room. Afghanistan is a key ally in the region and like in Iraq, U.S. military officials want to give a deal every chance to succeed before packing up and going home.

Relax, Afghanistan Isn’t Going to Collapse

Image Credit: Government of India
Regional states have too many interests at stake in Afghanistan to allow a repeat of the 1990s.

By Robert Farley, December 11, 2013

The latest strategic intransigence from Afghan President Hamid Karzai has led to renewed concerns that the current Afghan government will collapse in the event that the United States completely withdraws direct military support at the end of 2014. A general state collapse, or the return of the Taliban, would obviously have unfortunate effects for nearly every one of its neighbors. The country is awash with weapons, and one downside of devoting substantial resources to training the Afghan National Army is the existence of a large pool of military age males with some professional training. An ideologically committed successor regime could create problems across the region.

Nevertheless, all is not grim. We shouldn’t forget that the Republic of Afghanistan, under Najibullah survived for nearly four years after the Soviet withdrawal, despite enjoying very little support from any state other than the flagging USSR. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan may be less robust, although it’s hard to see why that would be the case, but it is almost certain that it will enjoy considerably greater international support than its unfortunate predecessor.

Indeed, the focus on Afghanistan itself tells only part of the story, because the region and the world are much different now than in 1992. When Najibullah fell, the Soviet Union was in the process of full-scale collapse. China and India had yet to develop the military and economic tools to influence events well beyond their borders. The United States found itself distracted by events associated with the collapse of the USSR, as did Western Europe. Iran was recovering from the Iran-Iraq War, and still sorting through its revolution.

In short, the international community was ill-prepared to prevent state collapse in 1992, but now seems bent on maintaining even very weak states. Today, when states such as Mali and the Central African Republic appear to teeter, some element of the international community intervenes to restore order, or at least to hold the center together. China has growing economic interests in Central Asia that would be jeopardized by an Afghan state collapse or Taliban takeover. India has a strong interest in the survival of the current regime, and has taken significant steps to increase the professionalism and capacity of the ANA.

Is China making the same mistakes as Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany?: Gwyn

China is displaying the same kind of ability to anger and alarm almost all its neighbours as the old Germany once did.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is antagonizing his neighbours in an effort to turn the South China Sea into a Mare Nostrum.
By: Richard Gwyn Columnist, Published on Mon Dec 09 2013

Is Chinese President Xi Jinping making the same mistake as did Imperial Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II almost exactly a century ago?
Be worried, but don’t yet despair. Xi is highly intelligent while Wilhelm was a second-rater. While Chinese government has practiced the art of diplomacy for centuries that’s a skill few German leaders have mastered.
Certain similarities over the decades are unnervingly similar, though. Then, the new rising power on the global scene was Germany just as today it is China. The old declining power was Britain while today it is the U.S., which, since history never repeats itself exactly still commands immense power, above all military.

Another parallel is that China is displaying the same kind of ability to anger and alarm almost all its neighbours as the old Germany once did. In one way or other, China is now engaged in disputes with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei. Relations between it and Russia are frosty, and are so equally between China and India over border claims.

The last alarming repetition over time is that the cause of all the friction China is now generating is alike to the tensions Germany precipitated long ago.
Wilhelm’s great blunder was to set out to build a fleet that could match the Royal Navy. Britain’s response was to sign a military alliance with its traditional rival, France. Afterwards came the First World War.

Chinese Coal Use to Hit 4.8 Billion Metric Tons Annually by 2020

China’s coal consumption will continue to rise rapidly, despite a heavy human and environmental cost.
By John C.K. Daly, December 10, 2013

As the rest of the world moves away from using coal as an energy source due to its high emission of greenhouse gas, in China the use of coal, the country’s main energy source, is predicted to reach 4.8 billion metric tons per year by 2020, up from 3.5 billion tons in 2012.

The prediction was made by China National Coal Association vice president Liang Jiakun, who stated that the country’s coal industry still has potential to grow, as it now accounts for more than 60 percent of the country’s primary energy resources.

According to the International Energy Agency, China is the world’s second largest oil consumer behind the United States, and the largest global energy consumer. Driving China’s relentless use of energy are demographic and economic considerations. China is the world’s most populous country and has a rapidly growing economy, which has driven the country’s high overall energy demand and the quest for securing energy resources. The International Monetary Fund estimates that China’s real gross domestic product grew at an estimated 9.2 percent in 2011 and 7.8 percent in the first half of 2012, after registering an average growth rate of 10 percent between 2000 and 2011.

According to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration, China is also the world’s largest top coal producer and consumer and accounted for about half of the global coal consumption, an important factor in world energy-related CO2 emissions. In 2009 coal supplied 70 percent of China’s total energy consumption of 90 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu).

The Chinese government set a target to raise non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 11.4 percent of its energy matrix by 2015 as part of its new 12th Five Year Plan. EIA projects coal’s share of China total energy mix to fall to 59 percent by 2035 due to anticipated higher energy efficiencies and China’s goal to reduce its carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP) but the EIA cautions, “However, absolute coal consumption is expected to double over this period, reflecting the large growth in total energy consumption.”

Central Asian Fortune in Chinese Hands?

Central Asian Fortune in Chinese Hands?

While China’s reemergence is the front-page story of this century, the majority of its Central Asian neighbors are socioeconomically troubled. Undoubtedly developmental challenges have to be met from within, but how important is China to Central Asian stability and economic growth?
Economically, China is already the largest trading partner of four out of the five former Soviet Republics (the exception is Uzbekistan), and a main source of foreign investment. China has increasingly brought landlocked Central Asia into its economic orbit: between 2000 and 2012 bilateral trade (Afghanistan excluded) grew a whopping 46-fold, from about $1 billion to $46 billion. China is also a strategic partner of five of the six Central Asian states, and President Xi Jinping accentuated that status by inking large deals in energy and construction during his visit to the region this September.

All of this is the culmination of China’s diplomacy paradigm in Central Asia, in place since the mid 1990s. The paradigm been characterized by resource extraction and trade; securing land energy supply by importing gas from Turkmenistan and both gas and oil from Kazakhstan; and protecting China’s western territories from possible insurgency spillovers. While currently these threats seem relatively marginal, domestic and regional stability is key to China’s steady progress, an idea frequently expressed in China by the government and scholars.
Correspondingly, China has pushed for regional security cooperation under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which Beijing founded in 2001. With observer states included, the SCO accounts for half of the world’s population. Even if in different capacities, it is the only security organization in the world to embrace four major civilizations – a historic feat.

Through the SCO political and economic ties have fortified, and member states have developed greater mutual trust in military affairs as cooperation between defense ministries progressively deepens. In practice, so far, this has mainly resulted in collective drug trafficking mitigation, fighting organized crime, and border security enhancement. The SCO still excludes hard security – actual defensive military capacity.
While Beijing primarily sees raising living standards in this region as the antidote for instability, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has recently stressed that there is opportunity to build the SCO “into a community of interest” by expanding the scope of collaboration and to “build up a security shield” to detect and handle various security threats. Interestingly, this path could deviate from Beijing’s policy of non-interference.

Why Martin Wolf is wrong to blame China for the 'strange' and 'disturbing' world economy

10 December 2013 11:26AM

'The world economy is now in a very strange place. We should not forget how strange and disturbing it is.' These are the words of Martin Wolf, the Financial Times' Chief Economic Commentator.

Wolf's 'strange place' has the world economy in a 'contained depression', where only two of the six largest advanced countries have higher GDP than in 2007; where monetary policy has lost the power to stimulate; where fiscal policy has been incapacitated by excessive government debt; and where the financial sector has channeled capital flows in the wrong direction.

In short, the global economy is in a mess and we don't yet have the formula for setting it right.

Wolf's story starts with the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

The argument goes that the emerging economies (especially China) concluded that they should take out self-insurance against similar crises by encouraging domestic saving and accumulating foreign exchange reserves. The reserves flowed into US assets, pushing up the US dollar and opening up a current account deficit. This weakened demand for US production, encouraging expansionary policy settings in the US (low interest rates and a fiscal deficit), which led to the sub-prime crisis which triggered the wider financial crisis.

Wolf has been pushing the 'blame China' line for some time. Doubtless these factors were operating, but to give China central place in the policy narrative is misleading.

The US financial disaster was largely the home-grown product of lax prudential supervision, misguided doctrines and vested interests.

Low interest rates began as a fix for the 2001 'tech wreck'. Budget deficits reflected the doctrinally driven Bush tax cuts. The current account deficit was already more than 5% of GDP by 2004, before China's surplus became significant. Europe and the UK had their own versions of financial excesses and regulatory failure.

In 2006 (the height of the US external deficit), China accounted for little more than a quarter of the US current account deficit, with Germany, Japan and the oil producers accounting for the rest. As we now realise, the intrinsically unsustainable imbalances were in the European peripheral countries, which went unnoticed until the Greece debt debacle of 2010.

Whatever the role of external imbalances in the lead-up to the 2008 crisis, this isn't the main issue now. China's current account surplus has fallen from 10% of GDP to 2%. If any country were to be singled out, it would be Germany, although it's hard to pinpoint what Germany is doing wrong in its policy settings, other than the unalterable reality that euro membership gives Germany an uber-competitive exchange rate.

Singapore’s Little India Riot: Was Alcohol to Blame?

Also: Deadly train wreck in Jakarta, poverty rate declines in the Philippines.

By J.T. Quigley
December 10, 2013

Yesterday, the death of a 33-year-old Indian national who was struck by a bus in Singapore sparked a rare riot in the tightly controlled city-state. Approximately 400 foreign workers took to the streets of the Little India district, setting fire to police vehicles and an ambulance.

Singapore’s police commissioner, Ng Joo Hee, told the BBC that it was the country’s first riot in more than 30 years. 27 people were arrested and 18 were injured.

The Little India district is popular among South Asian expatriates who often eat and drink there on Sundays. But did alcohol contribute to the destructive behavior?

Apparently Singapore’s Transport Minister, Lui Tuck Yew, believes that it did.

Lui announced that he would limit liquor licenses in Little India while also “demarcating areas where drinking is allowed and setting the time for which it is allowed,” according to Channel NewsAsia, though admitting that it was “too early to say” what caused the freak unrest.

Over in Indonesia, a commuter train crash has left at least two people dead. One of those killed has been identified as the train’s engineer, reported The Inquirer.

The crash took place in the capital city of Jakarta when a tanker truck carrying liquid gas attempted to beat the train through an intersection. The truck exploded, knocking several of the train’s passenger cars on their side.

Some good news for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines: According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the number of poor families in the Philippines relative to the total number of families in the country has dropped from 20.5 percent to 19.7 percent between 2009 and 2012.

Let's admit it: Britain is now a developing country

We have iPads and broadband – but also oversubscribed foodbanks. Our economy is no longer zooming along unchallenged in the fast lane, but a clapped-out motor

Aditya Chakrabortty

The Guardian, Monday 9 December 2013

A foodbank in the Black Country. Photograph: David Jones/PA

Elite economic debate boils down to this: a man in a tie stands at a dispatch box and reads out some numbers for the years ahead, along with a few micro-measures he'll take to improve those projections. His opposite number scoffs at the forecasts and promises his tweaks would be far superior. For a few hours, perhaps even a couple of days, afterwards, commentators discuss What It All Means. Last Thursday's autumn statement from George Osborne was merely the latest enactment of this twice-yearly ritual, and I bet you've already forgotten it.

Compare his forecasts and fossicking with our fundamental problems. Start with last week's Pisa educational yardsticks, which show British teenagers trailing their Vietnamese counterparts at science, and behind the Macanese at maths. Or look at this year's World Economic Forum (WEF) competitiveness survey of 148 countries, which ranks British roads below Chile's, and our ground-transport system worse than that of Barbados.

Whether Blair or Brown or Cameron, successive prime ministers and their chancellors pretend that progress is largely a matter of trims and tweaks – of capping business rates and funding the A14 to Felixstowe. Yet those Treasury supplementary tables and fan charts are no match for the mass of inconvenient facts provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the WEF or simply by going for a wander. Sift through the evidence and a different picture emerges: Britain's economy is no longer zooming along unchallenged in the fast lane, but an increasingly clapped-out motor regularly overtaken by Asian Tigers such as South Korea and Taiwan.

Gender equality? The WEF ranks us behind Nicaragua and Lesotho. Investment by business? The Economist thinks we are struggling to keep up with Mali.

Let me put it more broadly, Britain is a rich country accruing many of the stereotypical bad habits of a developing country.

I began thinking about this last week, while reporting on graphene, the wonder material discovered by Manchester scientists and held up by cabinet ministers as part of our new high-tech future. Graphene is also the point at which Treasury dreaminess is harshly interrupted by the reality of our national de-development.

Russia Activates Arctic Air Base

Kremlin getting serious about polar ops
Jacek Siminski in War is Boring

In early October, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin vowed that Russia would never “surrender” its claims in the Arctic.

He wasn’t kidding. Now Temp airfield, located on Kotelny Island in the far-north Novosiberian region, is being reactivated.

The airfield became operational in 1949 but was shuttered in the mid-1990s and its infrastructures preserved for future use. In the intervening 20 years, Russian Arctic policy has become more aggressive, in line with similar polar retrenchment by the U.S., Canada and European countries. Reactivating Temp airfield gives Russian air force planes a new, more northern base for patrols over the icy region.

In 2012, a helicopter crashed during Russian specialists’ visit to Kotelny Island. Nobody died, but the mishap halted reactivation activities. This year people and equipment were delivered by sea. Back in September, an expedition set sail with 150 people and 40 machines and vehicles.

The reactivation process proceeded quickly and, at the end of October, the first An-72 transport landed at Temp. Currently, the base possesses air traffic control equipment, accommodations, a water supply, a power station and heating. The airfield is meant to eventually handle planes as large as the four-engine Il-76 airlifter.

Temp is expected to operate year-round and in all weather. There are plans to continue the Arctic expansion with the reactivation of another dormant airfield, Tiksi in Yakutsia. The Kremlin claims the Arctic bases will help safeguard the northern shipping lane and adjacent polar claims.

The “Oil Abundance” Narrative is Wrong

by Michael Levi
November 21, 2013

A mixture of oil, diesel fuel, water and mud sprays as roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota, October 20, 2012. Picture taken October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

America has moved from oil scarcity to oil abundance, and our attitudes need to change in order to keep up. If the stream of headlines and panels is any indication, you’d have to be an idiot to disagree with that claim.

So call me stupid, because I just don’t see it.

There’s no question that U.S. oil production is booming. The country has passed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest liquid fuels producer and is now producing more oil than it imports. The rise in U.S. output, which is poised to continue, is good news for the economy and national security. It’s also something that leaders need to adjust to as they develop policy and strategy.

But setting production records and passing milestones is fundamentally different from abundance. By pretty much every meaningful indicator, the abundance story is wrong.

Start with physical volumes. The United States imports roughly half of the oil it consumes. If the United States imported half of its labor, no one would say that the country enjoyed an abundance of workers. Oil is no different. Saudi Arabia enjoys oil abundance – it produces far more than it consumes. Ditto for Russia, Kuwait, and a host of others. The United States is not in that category.

Prices are an even better indicator. Imported oil has traded around $100 for much of the last several years. You need to go back to 1981 to find real average monthly oil prices over $100 – and that lasted a whopping two months. Even if oil prices were to fall to, say, $70 a barrel, that price would be higher than it was for 346 of the 396 months between January 1974 and January 2007. If oil is so much more abundant than it was, say, a decade or two ago, why are sellers able to charge so much more for it? Real abundance means lower prices, not higher ones.

Techies, Uncle Sam wants you for the U.S. Army

By Walter Pincus, Tuesday, December 10,

Can you provide a computerized system that automatically performs name comparisons and also can detect relationships with other names?

Can you design a platform that accesses the news media from anywhere in the world, mines it for files of interest and then provides real-time operational data from it to multiple stakeholders?

And while you’re at it, maybe you can resolve massive real-time and historic filed data sets and automatically extract results from trillions of such records?

If so, the U.S. Army wants to hear from you.

As the public faces almost daily new details about the National Security Agency’s worldwide collection and manipulation of metadata, the U.S. Army is seeking computer specialists to help it develop programs that could collect, retrieve and display massive amounts of data. The Army also wants to be able to use the metadata to draw actionable intelligence, some for display on three-dimensional touch-screen maps.

An RFI (request for information) was issued last month by the Army’s little-publicized Project Director Technology Applications Office (PD TAO), which provides information management for Army headquarters but also is used to support classified special programs. An RFI seeks ideas from potential contractors but it is not a solicitation. In fact, the original notice said the government would not reimburse contractors for the cost of submissions.

Having viewed the RFI, one experienced former intelligence official wrote: “Many of the technology initiatives [the Army is seeking] seem [to be] pushing the envelope.”

When asked for someone who could describe which systems engineering and services capabilities were being sought, Ellyn Kocher, public communications specialist at Army Contracting Command, said she had been told “that there may be no more information to give than what is in the RFI listing, as anything more could be classified.”

Stuxnet's Secret Twin

By Ralph Langner
November21, 2013

The real program to sabotage Iran's nuclear facilities was far more sophisticated than anyone realized. - See more at: file:///C:/Users/PKM/Desktop/Stuxnet%27s%20Secret%20Twin.htm#sthash.hib3fzPG.dpuf

NOVEMBER 21, 2013

Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators' wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete.

That's because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet's smaller and simpler attack routine -- the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and "forgotten" routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy. It qualifies as a nightmare for those who understand industrial control system security. And strangely, this more sophisticated attack came first. The simpler, more familiar routine followed only years later -- and was discovered in comparatively short order.

With Iran's nuclear program back at the center of world debate, it's helpful to understand with more clarity the attempts to digitally sabotage that program. Stuxnet's actual impact on the Iranian nuclear program is unclear, if only for the fact that no information is available on how many controllers were actually infected. Nevertheless, forensic analysis can tell us what the attackers intended to achieve, and how. I've spent the last three years conducting that analysis -- not just of the computer code, but of the physical characteristics of the plant environment that was attacked and of the process that this nuclear plant operates. What I've found is that the full picture, which includes the first and lesser-known Stuxnet variant, invites a re-evaluation of the attack. It turns out that it was far more dangerous than the cyberweapon that is now lodged in the public's imagination.


In 2007, an unidentified person submitted a sample of code to the computer security site VirusTotal. It later turned out to be the first variant of Stuxnet -- at least, the first one that we're aware of. But that was only realized five years later, with the knowledge of the second Stuxnet variant. Without that later and much simpler version, the original Stuxnet might still today sleep in the archives of anti-virus researchers, unidentified as one of the most aggressive cyberweapons in history. Today we now know that the code contained a payload for severely interfering with the system designed to protect the centrifuges at the Natanz uranium-enrichment plant.

Stuxnet's later, and better-known, attack tried to cause centrifuge rotors to spin too fast and at speeds that would cause them to break. The "original" payload used a different tactic. It attempted to overpressurize Natanz's centrifuges by sabotaging the system meant to keep the cascades of centrifuges safe. "Protection systems" are used anywhere where abnormal process conditions can result in equipment damage or threaten the health of operators and the environment. At Natanz, we see a unique protection system in place to enable sustained uranium enrichment using obsolete and unreliable equipment: the IR-1 centrifuge. This protection system is a critical component of the Iranian nuclear program; without it, the IR-1s would be pretty much useless.

Anti-Access Lessons from the Past

Proceedings Magazine - December 2013 Vol. 139/12/1,330
By Toshi Yoshihara
Imperial Japan’s plan for fighting the U.S. Navy before World War II and contemporary China’s maritime area-denial tactics share remarkable similarities

Imperial Japan’s plan for fighting the U.S. Navy before World War II and contemporary China’s maritime area-denial tactics share remarkable similarities.

When strategists encounter a formidable policy challenge, they often rush to their history books. China’s growing assertiveness in maritime Asia has been sufficiently worrisome to occasion just such a search for lessons in the past. The greatest stimulus for this inquiry is Beijing’s emerging anti-access and area denial capabilities—broadly understood as military forces arrayed to complicate or deny U.S. military operations in Asian waters. As analysts look back, many see a parallel between Imperial Japan’s plans for fighting the U.S. Navy in the 1920s and 1930s and China’s current “counter intervention” strategy. 1

Tokyo then, and Beijing since the 1990s, struggled to develop military options that would deter (and failing that, defeat) U.S. intervention in their backyards. And they came to roughly the same conclusions about what to do. China’s anti-access buildup today would have surprised interwar Japanese planners only for the resemblance to their own efforts. Indeed, while more than eight decades separated their respective attempts at improving the odds of operational success, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) sought surprisingly analogous tactical outcomes on the battlefield.

A closer examination shows that interwar Japan is a powerful proxy for understanding China’s current anti-access program and for illustrating the universal appeal of anti-access. Such a historic analogy helps to see past the veneer of novelty around China’s anti-access efforts. It also discerns Chinese warfighting preferences and the kinds of tactical and operational effects that China hopes to achieve at sea. Finally, a retrospective look at Imperial Japan furnishes reference points to appreciate the magnitude of China’s anti-access challenge to the United States.
Interwar Japan and China at the turn of the 21st century shared a vexing problem. Both faced the possibility of a naval war with the United States that, at least on paper, they seemed certain to lose. The consensus in Tokyo and Beijing held that their nations would invariably fight from positions of weakness. To level the playing field, Japan and China relied on innovative doctrines, tactics, and technologies to give their nations a fighting chance.

Both specialized in warfighting skills that furnished an outsized edge. They converged on comparatively cheap and expendable weaponry that was lethal to highly-prized, capital-intensive American naval assets. This reflected the shared belief that landing devastating blows on capital ships of their respective eras—the battleship and the aircraft carrier—held the most promise for victory at sea. The goal was to impose disproportionate costs on the adversary. In current Pentagon jargon, they planned to wage “asymmetric warfare” against the United States.
Defense by Offense

What is National Security?

Mark Stout
December 10, 2013 ·

The ongoing Snowden-Greenwald leaks have brought numerous policy fissures out into the open. Though generalized rage (on both sides) often obscures these fissures, they raise some interesting questions.

One that has repeatedly struck me is a disagreement over what “national security” is and what falls under that rubric. Both the Snowden-Greenwald lovers and haters seem to agree that it includes protection from terrorists and I infer that they would agree that it includes protection against military threats. Hence, secret intelligence collection against such topics is legitimate in principle, though governments may abuse it. (Of course, there is a related debate over where the line between legitimate collection and abusive collective lies.)

There is sharp divergence, however, on the question of whether economic issues fall under the rubric of national security. Most recently, the story that the Swedish signals intelligence agency had been collecting information on the Russian energy sector as part of a cooperative relationship with the NSA illustrates this debate. (See also here.) In connection with this story, Greenwald told reporters that American and Swedish intelligence “work together when they perceive that their interests are mutually aligned and share information readily about a whole variety of topics, again having nothing to do with national security, including the energy sector in Russia.” He went on to say that “part of what they are doing is spying on energy companies, obviously for economic advantage.” Greenwald is not the only one who has expressed this view. This fall when word came out that the NSA had collected intelligence on France—including on French business interests—French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault complained that it was appalling that the United States “goes as far as spying on private communications that have no strategic justification, no justification on the basis of national defense.” (Please ignore the irony in the PM’s comments.)

Doctrine Next Air Force doctrine takes a great leap into the digital age.

December 2013

By John T. Correll


By the time this appears in print, the long-standing structure of Air Force doctrine—paper documents, often years out of date and sometimes contradicting each other—will be gone. In its place will be a streamlined digital library, easy to access from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

The website, https://doctrine.af.mil, was scheduled to go online in November. The new format will be instantly familiar to anyone accustomed to using the internet, search engines, and hyperlinks.

Instead of the 30 stand-alone doctrine documents of the past, the material is now modular, arrayed into five basic volumes and 29 annexes, constructed from 893 building blocks called “Doctrine Topic Modules,” each of which can be called up individually. The breakout into individual DTMs enables revision in detail without broader disruption, so keeping doctrine current is no longer the forbidding chore it used to be.

The overall word count has been reduced by about 30 percent. Background material—such as definitions and explanation of recurring concepts—previously repeated in document after document is now broken out and stashed elsewhere. The product is consistent throughout.

For the first time ever, terms and concepts are defined the same way wherever they appear in doctrine. With no lag in updates, there are no internal contradictions.

Just as doctrine evolves to reflect changing theory, technology, and use of airpower, “so must the means of delivering doctrine to airmen evolve to leverage the increased capability, speed, and flexibility of digital media,” said Maj. Gen. Walter D. Givhan, commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education at Maxwell AFB, Ala.

The conversion to digital doctrine was accomplished in a massive project called “Doctrine Next,” which took more than a year to complete. It gained the support of senior Air Force leaders and approval by the Chief of Staff at a doctrine summit held at the Air Force Academy in October 2012.