13 December 2013

A National Security Doctrine is Imperative

The concluding part of the analysis on civil-military relations argues that India’s national security concerns demand that all interests and all institutions of national power are brought to work most closely together to further the country’s interest and build a militarily and economically strong nation that enjoys the world’s trust and respect

N.N. Vohra

IAF helicopters bearing the National and the service ensigns fly past over Rajpath on Republic Day. Individual services need to close ranks and get collectively concerned about the major threats and formidable challenges that the country faces

Over the years, continuing efforts have been made by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to promote jointness through integration of the planning, training and other systems so that, progressively, a tri-service approach could get fully established. However, certain issues continue to affect the efficient functioning of the defence apparatus:

There must be no further delay in finalising the National Security Doctrine, on the basis of which integrated threat assessments can be made.

While some improvements have been achieved in the past years, the MoD must enforce strict measures to ensure that the DRDO, ordnance factories, defence public sector undertakings and other concerned agencies function efficiently to deliver supplies and services as per the envisaged time and cost schedules. Prolonged delays cause serious difficulties for the armed forces and large economic losses as the lack of certainty about supplies from indigenous sources compels expensive imports.

While there have been notable advances in the rationalisation of the procurement policies and procedures, there is still need to ensure against prolonged acquisition proceedings as such delays altogether nullify the “make or buy” approaches.

The individual services enjoy the autonomy of taking decisions to make their own selections of weapons, equipment and systems. The Integrated Service Headquarters must take effective steps to establish a tri-service approach in regard to such decisions as doing so will engender very significant financial savings.

Defence planning process has still to get established. The X and XI Plans were implemented without receiving formal approvals. While the Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan has since been finalised, it is still viewed as a totalling up of the wish lists of the individual services. The Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) must devote urgent attention towards finalising a fully integrated defence plan with at least a 10-15 year perspective.

The services enjoy the authority of virtually settling their own manpower policies. The pro-rata percentage representation of arms and services in the Army needs to be modified as it is virtually a “quota system” which breeds group loyalties and cuts at the very roots of jointness within the service.

***** 5 Reasons Why 2013 Was The Best Year In Human History

By Zack Beauchamp on December 11, 2013

Between the brutal civil war in Syria, the government shutdown and all of the deadly dysfunction it represents, the NSA spying revelations, and massive inequality, it’d be easy to for you to enter 2014 thinking the last year has been an awful one.

But you’d be wrong. We have every reason to believe that 2013 was, in fact, the best year on the planet for humankind.

Contrary to what you might have heard, virtually all of the most important forces that determine what make people’s lives good — the things that determine how long they live, and whether they live happily and freely — are trending in an extremely happy direction. While it’s possible that this progress could be reversed by something like runaway climate change, the effects will have to be dramatic to overcome the extraordinary and growing progress we’ve made in making the world a better place.

Here’s the five big reasons why.

1. Fewer people are dying young, and more are living longer.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar

The greatest story in recent human history is the simplest: we’re winning the fight against death. “There is not a single country in the world where infant or child mortality today is not lower than it was in 1950,” writes Angus Deaton, a Princeton economist who works on global health issues.

The most up-to-date numbers on global health, the 2013 World Health Organization (WHO) statistical compendium, confirm Deaton’s estimation. Between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of children who died before their fifth birthday dropped by almost half. Measles deaths declined by 71 percent, and both tuberculosis and maternal deaths by half again. HIV, that modern plague, is also being held back, with deaths from AIDS-related illnesses down by 24 percent since 2005.

In short, fewer people are dying untimely deaths. And that’s not only true in rich countries: life expectancy has gone up between 1990 and 2011 in every WHO income bracket. The gains are even more dramatic if you take the long view: global life expectancy was 47 in the early 1950s, but had risen to 70 — a 50 percent jump — by 2011. For even more perspective, the average Briton in 1850 — when the British Empire had reached its apex — was 40. The average person today should expect to live almost twice as long as the average citizen of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country in 1850.

Chief of Defence Staff must be Appointed Immediately


December 12, 2013 

The Naresh Chandra committee on defence reforms had reportedly recommended the appointment of a four-star permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), instead of a five-star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Such a step now appears to be under the active consideration of the government. However, according to news reports, the government is still seeking the views of political parties on the necessity of the step. 

Consequent to the submission of the Kargil Review Committee report in 2000, a task force led by Mr. Arun Singh had been constituted by the group of ministers (GoM) headed by Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani to analyse the functioning of the higher defence organisation in India and suggest measures for its improvement. Among the major recommendations of this task force was the creation of the post of the CDS supported by a tri-Service joint planning staff. The GoM accepted this recommendation. However, while the tri-Service Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS) was finally constituted in 2002, it is still headed by a three-star officer who reports to the Chairman COSC. Approval of the post of CDS was deferred by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) pending further consultations. The two reasons cited for the deferment were the lack of political consensus on the establishment of the post of CDS and opposition within certain sections of the armed forces. 

Success in modern war hinges on the formulation of a joint military strategy and its joint and integrated execution. The need for single point military advice for India's civilian political masters cannot be over emphasised. With India’s “no first use” nuclear strategy, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) would be in a real quandary if at a critical stage during war, when the adversary has unleashed the nuclear genie, the Chiefs of Staff express divergent views on the payoffs of using nuclear weapons in a retaliatory strike and the type and nature of response. The service Chiefs would to some extent be guided by the impact of nuclear weapons on their forward-deployed fighting troops and would need to take the prevailing military situation into account while making their recommendations to the government. It is axiomatic that the differences among the Chiefs of Staff are resolved by the military professionals themselves, with one of them acting as the arbitrator. Only a CDS would be able to take a detached view and present an objective analysis of the situation along with the available options and the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing each option. 

Ideally, the CDS should be an overall commander-in-chief and from him command should flow to individual theatre commanders. Given India’s long land borders with a varied terrain configuration and two major seaboards, as also adversaries who are geographically separated, a "theatre" system of tri-service command is best suited for the optimum management of both external and internal security challenges. Contrary to the belief that only the United States needs a theatre system because of its wider geo-political interests and involvement in security issues all over the globe, with its inimical neighbours and peculiar national security threats and challenges, India too needs a theatre system for integrated functioning to achieve synergy of operations with limited resources. The Chinese, with similar needs, have a well-established theatre system. 

Clear advice from service chiefs missing

The constitutional framework clearly lays down responsibilities of the Raksha Mantri, the defence secretary and the service chiefs. The first part of this analysis points out that the MoD can function effectively only on the basis of dynamic coordination between its civilian and military elements
N.N. Vohra

Defence Minister AK Antony and the service chiefs paying homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. There is a crucial need to ensure jointness and to evolve a closely integrated defence plan with a long term perspective 

Defence Minister AK Antony and the service chiefs paying homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. There is a crucial need to ensure jointness and to evolve a closely integrated defence plan with a long term perspectiveOver the past two decades, a growing number of former senior armed forces officers have been writing on issues relating to higher defence management. A criticism has been recurringly raised that impediments arise in functioning of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) because the civilian officers posted in the ministry exercise authority which far exceeds their mandate. 

In any discussion on defence management it is extremely important to note that in our democratic parliamentary framework the power lies with the elected representatives, from among whom Cabinet ministers are appointed. The ministers are responsibile for managing the affairs of their departments and decide all important matters except those which are required to be submitted to the Cabinet, Cabinet Committee on Security, Prime Minister, President or other specified authorities. The civil servants working in these departments are the tools for assisting the ministers in finalising policies and then ensuring that the same are effectively executed.
Constitutional framework
Civil-military discord

Frequently voiced dissatisfaction that civilians posted in the MoD do not have adequate past experience of working in this arena or long enough tenures to gain specialisation 

Some commentators allege that the role of political leaders has been hijacked by IAS officers and what obtains in the MoD today is bureaucratic control and not civilian political control of the military 

A factor which invariably came in the way of arriving at adequately prompt and satisfactory solutions in troubled times was failure to present to the Raksha Mantri clear cut options based on the advice from the Chiefs of Staff Committee 

The proposal to create the post of a Chief of Defence Staff is hanging fire due to lack of collective support by the three services and failure to secure approval for want of political consensus 

The Constitution lays down the framework within which the union government and the states are required to carry out their respective responsibilities. List 1 of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution states that the union government is responsible for the “Defence of India and every part thereof”. The supreme command of the armed forces rests in the President. The responsibility for national defence vests with the Cabinet, which is discharged through the MoD that provides the policy framework for the armed forces to carry out their duties. The Raksha Mantri heads this ministry, the principal task of which is to obtain policy directions of the government on all defence and security related matters and see that these are implemented by the service headquarters and allied establishments.

Felt Confused, Humiliated in Early Harvard Days: Ratan Tata

New York | Dec 12, 2013

Ratan Tata has said he felt confused and humiliated during his first few weeks as a student at the elite Harvard University but those initial days turned out to be the "most important weeks" of his life.

Tata recalled his first weeks on the Harvard campus as he attended a dedication ceremony of Tata Hall at Harvard Business School (HBS) in Boston earlier this week.

Named in the honour of the iconic Indian industrialist, Tata Hall is a seven-story, glass-and-limestone 163,000 square foot building, which will include residential and learning space for the HBS's executive education programme.

Tata was joined by HBS's India-born dean Nitin Nohria and Harvard University president Drew Faust for the dedication ceremony during which he recounted that his first weeks on the Harvard campus were "confusing" and he felt "humiliated" by the impressive and overwhelming calibre of his fellow students, according to a report in the Harvard Gazette.

"It was the only time in my life where I sat and crossed out day by day how many days were left before I could return to the normal world," Tata said.

"But what it did do for me, as I soon found out, the confusion sort of disappeared, and you understood the magnitude of what you had learned in a manner that I believe is not possible to do in places other than at this business school," he said.

"As I look back, those 13 weeks were probably the most important 13 weeks of my life. They transformed me and my perspective," the former chairman of Tata Sons said.

The business tycoon said, "Harvard Business School is the pre-eminent place to be exposed to the world's best thinking on management and leadership, and we are pleased that this gift will support the School's educational mission to mould the next generation of global business leaders."

Tata, a 1975 graduate of the advanced management programme at HBS and himself an architect, had presented the design firm behind Tata Hall with two design challenges of making the building warm and welcoming to visitors and as open and transparent as possible.

"Can the building touch the ground lightly?" architect William Rawn recalled of Tata's charge, to explain the walls of glass.

Tata Companies, the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, and the Tata Education and Development Trust, which are philanthropic arms of the Tata Group, had donated USD 50 million to the HBS in 2010. 

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Is global warming generating storms like Typhoon Haiyan?

By Dan Murphy, Staff writer / 11.12.13 

Naderev Sano (front, second left), the Philippines' climate commissioner, stands in front of a banner as he begins a voluntary fast during the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw November 12. Sano began a fast on Monday in protest at a lack of action on global warming that he blamed for fuelling a super typhoon that has killed an estimated 10,000 people in his country. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters) 

Financial losses from tropical cyclones and other severe weather have surged in the past few decades, even as the man-caused release of carbon into the atmosphere has similarly increased and the science for why we're living on a warming planet has been nailed down.

So global warming is causing stronger, more frequent storms right? Wrong. At least, as far as anyone can make out, there's no evidence of that yet.

Historical Global Tropical Cyclone Landfalls, an article in the July 2012 Journal of Climate, argues that no evidence yet exists that climate change is to blame for more dangerous tropical cyclones – the generic name for hurricanes and typhoons. The authors constructed a database of hurricane-strength landfalls of tropical cyclones over the years, but found that "The analysis does not indicate significant long-period global or individual basin trends in the frequency or intensity of landfalling (tropical cyclones) of minor or major hurricane strength." 

In other words, no consistent pattern, and no evidence that storms are growing stronger or more destructive globally. Why more damage? Because more people are living in flood plains and near the coast and building more things there. Also, there's a lot more of us around today: In 1960, the planet held 3 billion people. Today, it's more than 7 billion. 

This is not to say that a warmer climate won't lead to more powerful and damaging tropical cyclones. Warm surface ocean temperatures are linked to stronger cyclones. But it's just that it doesn't appear to have done so yet. While the conventional wisdom on this often feels driven by people seeking to use to the latest storm headline to push back on global-warming denialists, the ends still don't justify the misuse-of-information means. 

It's a popular position that tropical cyclones are more damaging now. For instance Jeffrey Sachs, the economist and director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, wrote this morning: 

"Increasing Intensity of the Strongest Tropical Cyclones," published 2008, demonstrated that disasters like Haiyan becoming more common.— Jeffrey D. Sachs (@JeffDSachs) November 12, 2013

That prompted a response from Roger Pielke, one of the authors of the paper referenced at the top of this post. In a blog post on the matter, he acknowledges the paper referenced by Dr. Sachs found some change in some places, but not the sort of evidence of a global trend claimed. He also teases out regional data from the Landfalls paper for the western North Pacific basin, where Haiyan formed and which he writes is the most active for tropical cyclone formation. 

From http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/ 

If anything, the trend since 1950 has been towards fewer strong tropical cyclones in the area (though he warns that doesn't mean much either since there's such high year-to-year variability).

The paper Dr. Pielke contributed to (the lead author was Jessica Weinkle of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado) isn't exactly an outlier. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) surveyed the scientific literature on stronger or more frequent cyclones in a working paper in September of this year. It found:

Top US general: Negotiations done on Afghan deal


In this Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 photo Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, left, talks to Marines and soldiers stationed at Camp Leatherneck in Washir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan. America's top military officer said Tuesday the U.S. does not intend to renegotiate a security deal with Afghanistan and that a full withdrawal of its forces from the country at the end of 2014 could reverse gains made by Afghan troops in their war against the Taliban.
D. Myles Cullen/Department of Defense

The Associated Press
Published: December 11, 2013

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — America's top military officer warned the withdrawal of most U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year could reverse gains made in the war against the Taliban and further destabilize the region.

But Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has no plans to reopen negotiations on the hard-won text. Dempsey said he hasn't started planning for a so-called "zero-option," but he may have to soon if Hamid Karzai doesn't change his mind and sign the deal.

Much is at stake. Afghan security forces are still struggling against a resilient insurgency despite billions of dollars spent on training during nearly 13 years at war. Instability in Afghanistan, the world's largest illicit producer of raw opium, could also impact the region as far away as Russia. Such concerns, Dempsey said, are what make Afghanistan important to America and its allies despite waning interest in the conflict at home.

"Were it to become less stable, it would have impact on its neighbors," Dempsey told reporters late Tuesday at this military base north of the capital. "All of us would be concerned about the possibility of ungoverned space producing safe havens for terrorism, so stability in the region is in our national interest."

He said it was important to leave Afghanistan with a functioning government and security forces that can prevent a "re-emergence of al-Qaida and affiliates."

US-Afghan Security Agreement Sees Regional Support

Afghanistan’s neighbors, with the exception of Iran, want to see an American presence in Afghanistan past 2014. 
December 12, 2013

After Hamid Karzai’s intransigence set back momentum towards the U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would allow an American troop presence in Afghanistan beyond the general NATO coalition withdrawal in 2014, reports emerged that the deal may finally be imminent. U.S. special representative to Afghanistan, James Dobbins, told the U.S. Senate that he is confident Afghanistan will sign the deal on schedule, despite Hamid Karzai’s recalcitrance. 

The BSA had wide support from Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga and from both parties in the United States. Additionally, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stopped by in a surprise visit to Kabul over the weekend, on his way to Islamabad, to lobby for the BSA as well — he notably chose not to meet with President Hamid Karzai. 

For Karzai’s government, the BSA isn’t the only source of a security guarantee after 2014. Iran and India have also made inroads with Afghanistan regarding its post-2014 security situation. In India, Hamid Karzai raised eyebrows with his push for deeper defense ties. According to the Hindustan Times, “India is treading a cautious path even as Kabul has again raised the pitch for deeper military ties — that includes supply of tanks and artillery guns — citing domestic constraints and geo-political fallouts.” This support is in addition to India’s $2 billion assistance program in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. 

In a move that further raised the ire of the United States, Karzai swung closer to Iran with the Afghan-Iran pact last week. The move was particularly brash considering Karzai’s public repudiation of the BSA with the United States, raising concerns that Iran and Afghanistan may align following the NATO withdrawal. Reuters quotes a Karzai spokesman as saying that the “pact will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace and security.” 

James Dobbins, on Wednesday, clarified that he believed that the Iran-Afghan pact would do little to derail the United States’ security trajectory in Afghanistan, particularly the BSA. ”At this point I would not attach a lot of importance to it,” said Dobbins

Afghanistan year zero

DECEMBER 13, 2014. 
All bets are off when the US troops pull out.

From Washington to Kabul and in every capital in between, governments, armies, intelligence agencies and the media are asking what will happen in Afghanistan next year when the US and Nato finally leave after 12 years fighting a war they did not win. 

Despite the enormous amount of intel- ligence available, the truth is that nobody knows, not even the Afghans. The best pre- dictions can only be based on knowing what is going right, what is going wrong and what can be done to minimise the dangers of things getting worse.

But for more than a year we have been deluged with the so-called success story of the military transition — the handing over of security to the 350,000-strong Afghan army and police — as western forces pull out. We have been told repeatedly that as US-Nato forces step down, Afghan forces will step up.

The truth is that the military transition is probably the easier part. Yet even that is proving difficult because Taleban attacks and Afghan government casualties have increased enormously in the past year. This only highlights the vulnerabilities of the Afghan forces, which are 80 per cent illiterate and have an annual desertion rate of 20 per cent. At present there are some 87,000 western troops, down from 150,000 last year. By next spring there will be fewer than 40,000 and at the end of the year none but the tiny training force that the US is expect- ed to leave behind. Whether a US-Nato training mission of under 10,000 troops stays on is subject to a heated debate between President Karzai and the Americans as they battle over terms and conditions, but ultimately Karzai is likely to agree.

Afghan army losses have been so high that the defence ministry no longer disclos- es the figures, but one official spokesman told me that a staggering 1,273 police offic- ers and 770 village policemen were killed between March and October this year. During that period the Taleban mounted 6,600 attacks in 30 of the country’s 34 provinces. That is an impressive record for a force that is supposedly on the wane.

There are four other transitions that need to be addressed with equal intensity in the next 12 months. The most critical is the political transition and whether the presidential elections next April will be relative- ly free and fair and produce a moderately legitimate government. Note the cautious terms. On that — not the intensity of Tale- ban attacks — hangs the future stability of the country. 

China's War on International Norms

December 12, 2013
China’s declaration of a new air-defense identification zone (ADIZ) has further destabilized an already volatile situation. On November 23, China’s Ministry of National Defense unilaterally announced the establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. According to the new rules for conduct in this ADIZ, any aircraft (commercial and non-commercial) flying into the ADIZ is expected to follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by that organ. This means aircraft should submit their flight plans to Chinese authorities, maintain two-way radio communication, and keep radar transponders turned on. Should a plane refuse, China’s military has the right to adopt defensive measures, which is taken to mean scrambling aircraft to intercept the incoming aircraft.

ADIZs are, by themselves, not controversial. ADIZs are early-warning perimeters for self-defense, set by a state far beyond its territorial airspace in order to identify potential threats heading for its territorial airspace. Most states with ADIZs, like the US and Japan, request the submission of flight plans only for flights heading toward their territorial airspace. Other states, like China, request submission of flight plans for flights transiting the ADIZ even if there is no intention to enter territorial airspace. This element of China’s ADIZ is controversial because it is an attempt to exert greater control over a vast area of airspace. Yet, further problematic is the fact that the ADIZ overlaps considerably with the ADIZs of both Japan and Taiwan as well as South Korea’s. Importantly, included in the waters subsumed by China’s ADIZ are areas of land claimed by China but controlled by Japan-Senkaku Islands-and by South Korea-Ieodo Rock.

Perhaps because of the imposition of China’s ADIZ over such a wide portion of Japan’s ADIZ, most media coverage and scholarly analysis has focused on China’s ADIZ through the prism of China’s territorial dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands. The dominant narrative of why the ADIZ matters has therefore become Beijing attempting to weaken Japan’s claim by challenging Japan’s administration of the islands as well as the overlying airspace in order to force Japan to admit the existence of a dispute. While this logic may be accurate, it is incomplete. In fact, China’s ADIZ is a pronouncement of three challenges.

The first challenge is similar to the aforementioned dominant narrative, but more inclusive to include China’s eastern neighbors Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Because China’s ADIZ overlaps significantly with its three neighbor’s ADIZ, it is putting significant pressure on them. For both Tokyo and Seoul, Beijing may be attempting to weaken their claims by challenging their administration through a declaration of who can and cannot fly freely over these land formations and then trying to force them to recognize the existence of a dispute. Similarly, Beijing is reminding Taipei that Taiwan’s ADIZ is not recognized as separate from its own. In all three cases, Beijing is attempting to eat away at areas controlled by its neighbors. This is because the ADIZ can be used as justification for dispatching intercepts of aircraft entering China’s ADIZ. If any of its neighbors accept Beijing’s new rules, or simply give up their opposition, China can claim victory.

Rationalist Explanations for War in the East China Sea

China and Japan could go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, even if it meant economic ruin. 
December 12, 2013

Events in the East China Sea since 2009 have thrust to the forefront the following frightening question: will China and Japan imminently go to war? Conventional answers in the affirmative point to the deep level of historical mistrust and a certain level of “unfinished business” in East Asian international politics, stemming from the heyday of Showa Japan’s imperialism across Asia. Those on the negative often point to the astronomical economic costs that would follow from a war that pinned the world’s first and third largest economies against its second in a fight over a few measly islands, undersea hydrocarbon reserves be damned. 

I can’t pretend to arbitrate between these two camps but I find that far too many observers sympathize with the second camp based on rational impulse. Of course China and Japan wouldn’t fight a war! That’d ruin their economies! I sympathize with the Clausewtizean notion of war being a continuation of politics “by other means,” and the problems caused by information asymmetries (effectively handicapping rational decision-making), but the situation over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands can result in war even if the top leaders in Tokyo and Beijing are eminently rational. 

Political scientist James D. Fearon’s path-breaking article “Rationalist Explanations for War” provides a still-relevant schema that’s wonderfully applicable to the contemporary situation between China and Japan in the East China Sea. Fearon’s paper was initially relevant because it challenged the overly simplistic rationalist’s dogma: if war is so costly, then there has to be some sort of diplomatic solution that is preferable to all parties involved — barring information asymmetries and communication deficits, such an agreement should and will be signed. 

Of course, this doesn’t correspond to reality where we know that many incredibly costly wars have been fought (from the first World War to the Iran-Iraq War). So, if wars are costly — as one over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is likely to be — why do they still occur? Well, the answer isn’t Japanese imperialism or because states just sometimes irrationally dislike each other (as the affirmative camp would argue). It’s more subtle. 

Fearon’s “bargaining model” assumes a few dictums about state knowledge, behavior and expectations ex ante. I’ll cast the remainder of the model in terms of Japan and China since they’re our subjects of interest (and to avoid floating off into academic abstractions). 

First, China and Japan both know that there is an actual probability distribution of the likely outcomes of the war. They don’t know what the actual distribution is, but they can estimate what is likely in terms of the costs and outcomes of going to war. For example, Japan can predict that it would suffer relatively low naval losses and would strengthen its administrative control of the islands; China could predict the same outcome, or it could interpret things in its favor. In essence, they acknowledge that war is predictable in its unpredictability. 

Second, China and Japan want to limit risk or are neutral to risk, but definitely do not crave risk. War is fundamentally risky so this is tantamount to an acknowledgement that war is costlier than maintaining peace or negotiating an ex ante diplomatic solution. 

India-China War of 1962: A Critical Analysis Half a Century Down the Line

E-Mail- thapli@sify.com

We in India are perhaps perplexed to this day, over half a century later, as to why the Chinese attacked us in October–November 1962 despite our continued efforts to befriend. Both India and China were ancient civilisations, although with little interaction over centuries. In addition, both had thrown off colonial masters and were focused on improving the lot of their teeming millions. Perhaps it was our idealism and lack of understanding of real politic that was responsible for the humiliating debacle in 1962, a trauma that continues to haunt many in India. 

The Sequence of Events leading up to the War 

When the Chinese People’s Republic came into being on 1st October, 1949, India was among the first and very few countries to recognise it. In Nehru’s worldview, these two Asian giants could together start a new Asian era. Indeed, at that time, no differences existed between the two countries, which could lead to hostility. However, that did not take into account the devious and complex Chinese mind, which even at that early stage had rationalised that only one of the two countries could be an Asian power. It was China’s goal to see that India remained confined to South Asia. Pandit Nehru, who was both the Prime Minister as well as External Affairs Minister, could not read the Chinese intention. His colleagues in the Congress party, although men of stature themselves, were content to leave foreign policy solely in Nehru’s hands, which proved detrimental to national interests. 

The first sign of discord between India and China came in 1950 when China invaded Tibet. This was blatant aggression as historically, Tibet has never been a part of China. The Tibetans looked up to India for help but India’s feeble protest merely antagonised the Chinese without helping the Tibetans. India now had to contend with China on its Northern and Eastern border. Though not demarcated, these borders were well defined by various treaties and usage right from seventeenth century. Opportunities to negotiate a border settlement in the fifties existed, but were not seized. India entered into the Panchsheel Agreement with China in 1954, hoping to put an end to Chinese provocations but that was not to be. On the contrary, China illegally occupied the Aksai Chin and completed construction of their Western Highway through it in 1957. To counter continued Chinese aggression, India embarked on a policy of establishing a series of small posts all along its Northern and Eastern borders with China, to prevent further incursions. Called the ‘Forward policy’, most posts were not capable of giving a fight to the Chinese and were logistically unsustainable. Coupled with this, India neglected the improvement of infrastructure in the border areas, which was to cost the country dear when the conflict started in 1962. 

Around 1959-60, the Army was ill prepared to fight a war with China, but the army leadership still went along with the disastrous Forward Policy. Nothing illustrates this better than deploying a brigade on a river line in Namka Chu against all tactical norms. The outcome was a foregone conclusion – a debacle. By now the Chinese had made up their mind that since India was not negotiating the border issue to their satisfaction, which was basically bartering the Aksai Chin in Ladakh for Chinese acceptance of the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh, they would “teach India a lesson”. On 20 October, 1962, they overwhelmed 7 infantry Brigade deployed on Namka Chu River in Western Arunachal Pradesh and launched massive offensives both in Ladakh as well as Arunachal Pradesh. After gaining their initial objectives, the Chinese took a tactical and logistic pause for three weeks before renewing their offensives. On achieving their objectives, they announced a dramatic unilateral ceasefire on 20 Nov 1962 completing India’s humiliation. 

Think American Debt Is Bad? Try China

December 10, 2013
By Benjamin Carlson
China is amassing debt at a blistering pace.
Since June of last year, more than 10 provinces and cities in China have loaded up on fresh stimulus plans that total up to 20 trillion yuan ($3.3 trillion), according to a recent report by the Chinese newspaper First Financial Daily.
Even in China, where everything is bigger, that figure is huge.
Jaw-droppingly huge.
To compare, it's roughly five times the amount the government pumped into China's economy to stave off the global financial crisis in 2008-2010.
Worse yet, it's a mountain on top of a mountain.
In September, people were shocked when a government researcher estimated that local debts totaled $3.3 trillion at the end of 2012 - double the 2010 figure.
Now, if First Financial Daily's numbers are correct, debts have basically doubled - yet again.
No wonder that yields on Chinese public debt - meaning the price governments pay to borrow - have soared to their highest levels in almost nine years.
According to the report, Sichuan is rolling out 4.76 trillion yuan of new spending, roughly 180 percent of the southwestern province's total annual output. Coastal Fujian, a well-off province traditionally known for tea, is going in for 3.95 trillion yuan. Guangdong, an export-dependent wealthy southern province, will drop 1.41 trillion yuan.
The huge figures call attention to the problems the central government faces trying to wean local governments off using risky debt infusions to jack up GDP.
This was a core issue at November's Third Plenum, a major meeting of Communist Party officials. They agreed on a few reforms, though the details are still hazy.
One idea is to change the way Party leaders are evaluated, so that GDP growth isn't the end-all-be-all of every politico's career. Another is to create new streams of local tax revenue. Another is to let governments issue bonds, instead of turning to shady shadow financing for loans.
None of it seems like a silver bullet, but Beijing still sounds optimistic.
Last Wednesday, Yang Weimin, vice head of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs, said that the amount of local debt is risky but "under control."

This echoes the view put forward in September by Premier Li Keqiang - the man most responsible for China's economic policy - that debt-fueled spending is at "safe levels" in China.

Fire on the City Gate: Why China Keeps North Korea Close

Asia Report N°254 9 Dec 2013 


China tolerates the nuclear ambitions of North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK) for now because its interests in the neighbourhood are much wider and more complex than this single issue. Beijing and the West often work toward their shared goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula with contradictory approaches that reflect their different priorities. The West uses diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and extended deterrence to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program. Many Western policymakers believe the DPRK will denuclearise if sufficient costs are imposed and that Beijing holds the keys because the North is economically dependent on it. But China is reluctant to take any coercive action that might destabilise the regime and change a delicate geopolitical balance. It instead continues with diplomatic engagement and economic cooperation as the instruments it hopes will cause the leadership to denuclearise in the indeterminate future.

A decade has passed since the Six-Party Talks (China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.) were convened to roll back the DPRK nuclear program; the last round was in December 2008. When the process began, many expected that the North’s brinkmanship and transgressions would lead China to exert strong pressure on it to reverse course. In that decade, however, the DPRK has conducted three underground nuclear tests and four long-range missile flight tests, torpedoed a South Korean (Republic of Korea, ROK) naval patrol boat and shelled a South Korean island, while still receiving political and economic support. 

Following the third nuclear test, in February 2013, Beijing responded briefly with sternness, but a significant and lasting policy shift has yet to take place and does not appear likely any time soon. China’s fundamental geostrategic calculation remains in favour of sustaining the regime and keeping it close. Stability still trumps denuclearisation as a priority, and it does not perceive North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a direct or pressing threat, unlike the U.S. and its allies. Rather, it considers denuclearisation a long-term goal and appears to have resigned itself to living with a nuclear DPRK for the time being. 

North Korea’s belligerent behaviour in March-April 2013 tested China’s patience, jeopardising regional stability and undermining Beijing’s interests in the midst of its once-a-decade leadership change. In response, Beijing supported and implemented additional UN sanctions, issued strong warnings and reportedly slowed joint economic development projects. President Xi Jinping’s messages from summits with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts signalled rising discontent with the regime. However, these actions were designed to manage the North’s behaviour and defuse mounting regional tensions, rather than to achieve denuclearisation. They were short-term, tactical and easily reversible, not indications of a strategic change in policy.

Is War With China Inevitable?

December 10, 2013
by Brandon Smith

As a general rule, extreme economic decline is almost always followed by extreme international conflict. Sometimes, these disasters can be attributed to the human survival imperative and the desire to accumulate resources during crisis. But most often, war amid fiscal distress is usually a means for the political and financial elite to distract the masses away from their empty wallets and empty stomachs.

War galvanizes societies, usually under false pretenses. I’m not talking about superficial “police actions” or absurd crusades to “spread democracy” to Third World enclaves that don’t want it. No, I’m talking about realwar: war that threatens the fabric of a culture, war that tumbles violently across people’s doorsteps. The reality of near-total annihilation is what oligarchs use to avoid blame for economic distress while molding nations and populations.

Because of the very predictable correlation between financial catastrophe and military conflagration, it makes quite a bit of sense for Americans today to be concerned. Never before in history has our country been so close to full-spectrum economic collapse, the kind that kills currencies and simultaneously plunges hundreds of millions of people into poverty. It is a collapse that has progressed thanks to the deliberate efforts of international financiers and central banks. It only follows that the mind-boggling scale of the situation would “require” a grand distraction to match.

It is difficult to predict what form this distraction will take and where it will begin, primarily because the elites have so many options. The Mideast is certainly an ever-looming possibility. Iran is a viable catalyst. Syria is not entirely off the table. Saudi Arabia and Israel are now essentially working together, forming a strange alliance that could promise considerable turmoil — even without the aid of the United States. Plenty of Americans still fear the al-Qaida bogeyman, and a terrorist attack is not hard to fabricate. However, when I look at the shift of economic power and military deployment, the potential danger areas appear to be growing not only in the dry deserts of Syria and Iran, but also in the politically volatile waters of the East China Sea.

China is the key to any outright implosion of the U.S. monetary system. Other countries, like Saudi Arabia, may play a part; but ultimately it will be China that deals the decisive blow against the dollar’s world reserve status. China’s dollar and Treasury bond holdings could be used as a weapon to trigger a global sell-off of dollar-denominated assets. Oil-producing nations are likely to shift alliances to China because China is now the world’s largest consumer of petroleum. And China has clearly been preparing for this eventuality for years. So how can the U.S. government conceive of confrontation with the East? Challenging one’s creditors to a duel does not usually end well. At the very least, it would be economic suicide. But perhaps that is the point. Perhaps America is meant to make this seemingly idiotic leap.

Nuclear Gangbangers

December 12, 2013 
Hostile countries with nuclear capabilities have the upper hand on the global police.
By Victor Davis Hanson

A scene from Iran 
The gangster state of North Korea became a nuclear power in 2006–07, despite lots of foreign aid aimed at precluding just such proliferation — help usually not otherwise accorded such a loony dictatorship. Apparently the civilized world rightly suspected that, if nuclear, Pyongyang would either export nuclear material and expertise to other unstable countries, or bully its successful but non-nuclear neighbors — or both.

The United States has given billions of dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan, whose Islamist gangs have spearheaded radical anti-American terrorism. Ever since a corrupt Pakistan went nuclear in 1998, it has been able to extort such foreign-aid payouts — on fears that one of its nukes might end up in the hands of terrorists.

By any measure of economic success or political stability, without nuclear weapons Pakistan would not warrant either the cash or the attention it wins.
An observant Iran appreciates three laws of current nuclear gangbanging:

1. Nuclear weapons earn a reputation.

2. The more loco a nuclear nation sounds, the more likely it is that civilized states will fear that it is not subject to nuclear deterrence, and so the more likely that they will pay bribes for it to behave. Gangbangers always claim they have nothing to lose; their more responsible intended targets have everything to lose.

3. As of yet there are no 100 percent effective nuclear-defense systems that can guarantee non-nuclear powers absolute safety from a sudden attack. The nuclear gangbanger, not the global police, currently has the upper hand.

Again, the actual bombs are not the problem. We do not worry about a nuclear but democratic Israel or France. We are not even bothered by a hostile but non-nuclear Cuba or Venezuela. The combination of a bomb with a rap sheet is what changes all diplomatic and strategic considerations.

The Decay of American Political Institutions

 Francis Fukuyama

We have a problem, but we can’t see it clearly because our focus too often discounts history.
Published on December 8, 2013 


Many political institutions in the United States are decaying. This is not the same thing as the broader phenomenon of societal or civilization decline, which has become a highly politicized topic in the discourse about America. Political decay in this instance simply means that a specific political process—sometimes an individual government agency—has become dysfunctional. This is the result of intellectual rigidity and the growing power of entrenched political actors that prevent reform and rebalancing. This doesn’t mean that America is set on a permanent course of decline, or that its power relative to other countries will necessarily diminish. Institutional reform is, however, an extremely difficult thing to bring about, and there is no guarantee that it can be accomplished without a major disruption of the political order. So while decay is not the same as decline, neither are the two discussions unrelated.

There are many diagnoses of America’s current woes. In my view, there is no single “silver bullet” cause of institutional decay, or of the more expansive notion of decline. In general, however, the historical context of American political development is all too often given short shrift in much analysis. If we look more closely at American history as compared to that of other liberal democracies, we notice three key structural characteristics of American political culture that, however they developed and however effective they have been in the past, have become problematic in the present.

The first is that, relative to other liberal democracies, the judiciary and the legislature (including the roles played by the two major political parties) continue to play outsized roles in American government at the expense of Executive Branch bureaucracies. Americans’ traditional distrust of government thus leads to judicial solutions for administrative problems. Over time this has become a very expensive and inefficient way to manage administrative requirements.

The second is that the accretion of interest group and lobbying influences has distorted democratic processes and eroded the ability of the government to operate effectively. What biologists label kin selection and reciprocal altruism (the favoring of family and friends with whom one has exchanged favors) are the two natural modes of human sociability. It is to these types of relationships that people revert when modern, impersonal government breaks down.

Fewer Nukes Don't Mean More Danger

Steven Pifer
December 12, 2013

In their December 4 National Interest article, Adam Lowther and Hunter Hustus assert that, when it comes to nuclear weapons, “less is not just less, less is different”, in order to cast doubt on the wisdom of reducing U.S. strategic nuclear forces below the level set by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). “Less” may become “different” at some point, but it is hardly the case now, when the United States and Russia each have at least ten times as many nuclear weapons as the country with the third largest nuclear arsenal.

Lowther and Hustus note that the U.S. nuclear arsenal exists not just to deter attack on the United States but also to extend deterrence to U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. Extended deterrence is a more demanding task: an adversary may very well believe the United States would respond with nuclear weapons to an attack on American territory, but that same adversary may question whether Washington would so readily use nuclear weapons to defend an ally if that raised a risk of a nuclear attack on the United States.

Lowther and Hustus write that the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs could create pressures on other countries, e.g., Saudi Arabia, to acquire their own nuclear weapons. These pressures would increase if doubts over the credibility of the American extended deterrent grew. Extended deterrence is not just about deterring the adversary but, equally importantly, about assuring allies.

Lowther and Hustus make serious points. But they jump from there to conclude that further U.S. nuclear reductions would be dangerous. Their logic in doing so is less clear.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals currently each number about 4,500 total nuclear weapons (operational strategic, operational non-strategic, and reserve/non-deployed). The nearest third-country forces, France or China, possess about 300 or 250 nuclear weapons, respectively. This would appear to leave significant room for further U.S. and Russian reductions.

The WTO Is Back -- for Now

December 12, 2013
By Jean-Pierre Lehmann

It would be churlish not to congratulate the WTO and especially Roberto Azevêdo, its dynamic director-general, for successfully passing a "Bali package" at the Indonesian resort well past the 11th hour on 7 December. The WTO Doha Round, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, a few weeks after 9/11, had become a synonym of failure: failure of the WTO and failure to move forward an inclusive agenda of globalization. It was expected by many, including this author, that the ninth ministerial conference would follow the pattern. Instead Bali succeeded, at least in the sense that unlike previous ministerial conferences it did not collapse. The question is whether, as some exuberantly declare, the Doha Development Agenda has been brought back to life or, as others fear, the state of suspended animation has been extended by temporarily rebooting the life-support machine.

The trading system put in place after World War Two with the establishment in 1947 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, contributed enormously to bringing peace and prosperity to the nations of the North Atlantic. This was when the world was divided in three: the first world consisting of rich market-oriented economies; a second world of state-led central-command economies; and a third world collection of basically poor countries, many of which - including Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia and India - were practicing import-substitution industrialization policies. Thus the GATT was essentially an elite club of OECD countries, with Canada, the US, the EU and Japan, what was referred to as the "quad" calling the shots. This was fine because other countries were not interested. After the last GATT Uruguay Round in 1994, the institution was reformed and recreated the following year into the World Trade Organization.

The first director-general, the late Renato Ruggiero, referred to the WTO as the first true institution of this new phase of globalization. As the Soviet empire, hence the second world, imploded and major market-oriented reforms occurred in third world countries, the world gradually unified into one global integrated market economy with only a handful like North Korea opting out. Ruggiero warned early on: "we have gone from a divided world to an integrated world; and an integrated world is much more difficult to manage." And so, that has proved to be the case.

A Dangerously Divided Ukraine

Published: December 11, 2013

Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovich, took a tentative step toward defusing his country’s political turmoil earlier this week by convening a “round table” with former Ukrainian presidents to discuss possible responses to the protests engulfing the capital, Kiev. But he promptly negated any value in that gesture by ordering security police to clear the demonstrators’ encampment in Independence Square early Wednesday morning. Though the police appeared to pull back by midday, the confrontation plunges Ukraine deeper into crisis.

Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing the United States’ “disgust” with the use of force, said in a statement, “This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.” Even Mr. Yanukovich’s allies in the Kremlin have said that they cannot offer Ukraine economic help until this political turmoil is resolved.

Mr. Yanukovich is a democratically elected president, but he undermined his legitimacy two weeks ago when his security forces used truncheons and tear gas against thousands of protesters enraged by his rejection of an economic deal with the European Union that could have opened the way to a brighter economic future.

Mr. Yanukovich bowed to Russia’s threats of retaliation against Ukrainian imports if Ukraine were to have reached an agreement with Europe. Russia, Ukraine’s largest trading partner, has also hinted at a possible $9 billion discount on Russian gas prices for Ukraine if it spurned Europe and joined a Russian-led regional economic bloc.

The European Union should not sit by while Russia offers payouts to get a stake in Ukraine’s political future. Meanwhile, China seeks to increase its own leverage on Ukraine by reportedly offering to invest $7 billion or more in that nation’s struggling economy. Europe should look for ways to ease Ukraine’s financial crunch, not by threats or bribes but by reasonable offers of economic relief.

At this point, only a negotiated political compromise between the government and the opposition — coupled with renewed trade talks with Europe that Mr. Yanukovich promises — might begin to resolve the conflict.

For months, the International Monetary Fund has refused to sign off on a nearly $15 billion bailout loan that Ukraine needs by March to refinance its external debt. The I.M.F. wants Ukraine to accept harsh conditions, including raising domestic gas prices and imposing strict budgetary austerity. Those conditions could also lead to more political upheaval.

Eventually, Ukraine will need help from one of its neighbors, Russia in the east or Europe in the west. With so much at stake, the European Union should be asking itself why not Europe and why not now?