17 December 2013

Border Roads Organisation in the North-East: Need for Priority

Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
Gautam Sen
December 16, 2013

The Defence Minister of India had assured the Parliament in May 2012 that 82 strategic roads in the north-east were being double-laned, as priority, to provide effective logistical facility to India`s defence forces in the Arunachal Pradesh border with China. India’s road network in the region constructed and maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) involves nearly 11700 km of roads. BRO was conceived and raised in 1960 by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with the objective of speedy development of road network and infrastructure in the northern and north-eastern border areas of India. A substantial part are General Staff (GS) roads, i.e., roads which primarily serve logistical needs of the defence forces and are funded by the Union Ministry of Surface Transport (MOST) budget while the others are roads of economic and strategic importance (assets of the states) constructed with non-MOST funds but within the purview of the BRO.

The importance of the road network in the north-east needs no emphasis. India is now raising the 17 Mountain Corps at Panagarh in West Bengal to augment its strategic strike capability vis-à-vis China. The BRO is the key instrument to realise the road network objective and provide the required logistical capability to this Corps. But is the BRO adequately attuned towards achieving this objective?

According to an official testifying in the Parliament on the 8th Report of the Standing Committee on Defence (2009-2010), “…two years back the philosophy of our nation was that we should not make roads as near to the border as possible. That philosophy is telling today very clearly as to why we do not have roads. It is only two or three years back that we suddenly decided a change of philosophy and said no, we must go as far forward as possible.”1 [1] This Parliamentary Standing Committee Report had succinctly summed up the hiatus between the strategic needs of India and concomitant priorities and actual functioning of the BRO.

The Ministry of Defence had then indicated to the Committee that more funds would be allocated to the BRO and the organization was to be provided with adequate manpower.(2) The fact, however, is that the BRO does not suffer from any resource constraint and also has an enabling organizational structure, with its functionaries having adequate administrative and financial powers. The BRO`s expenditure on GS works has increased from Rs 830 crores in 2003-04 to Rs 2773 crores in 2012-13.2 [2] However, the BRO could spend Rs 2773 crores only in the last financial year of its budget (BE) allocation of Rs 3300 crores on GS works.3 [3]

The BRO project chief engineers execute their projects by engaging hired civilian labour in the construction companies. The availability of labour with the task forces and the construction companies is not an issue. The chief engineers have institutionally an internal financial advisory support element and are vested with full powers to decide on the labour rates. In other words, neither fund availability nor manpower resources may be deemed as constraints for the BRO in achieving its GS works targets. The apparent shortfall in the BRO`s performance in relation to the logistical needs of the armed forces, is therefore, required to be carefully examined.

As a line organization, i.e., an organization which implements programmatic functions, the BRO has had a degree of autonomy in its administrative and financial matters. The availability of financial resources over the years has been substantial and incremental. At times there may have been less allocation of funds in the short-term, in relation to the estimates of the works planned for implementation but this, however, has to be viewed in the backdrop of an apparent disconnect between the formulation of annual plans of the BRO and its executing capability. Environmental constraints by way of local socio-political milieu-generated pressures and related governmental clearances have also occasionally militated against the BRO achieving its targets and security objectives. The above referred Parliamentary Standing Committee had observed that in 2010 the BRO was faced with a situation wherein, within its present capability, the planned quantum of GS works was beyond its executing capability. The present situation does seem to be much different. In this backdrop, there is a view in the higher echelons of Ministry of Defence that the BRO chief engineers of their projects take on the responsibility for executing other than GS works, i.e., works for other state governments, civil departments but only with prior administrative approval of the Centre. This will prevent the BRO from spreading its resources too thin and at the expense of the GS works/India-China Border Roads (ICBRs).

Time to Award Bharat Ratna to Sam Manekshaw

The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
Article No.: 2517 Date: 16/12/2013
Ganapathy Vanchinathan
E-Mail- ganapathy68@gmail.com

6 December is celebrated as ‘Vijay Divas’ to mark India’s greatest military victory in modern times. This article is a tribute to the architect of that great victory, India’s greatest soldier of modern times, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

In a few months from now, on 3rd April 2014, the country will commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, popularly referred to the world over as Sam Manekshaw. His image is one that of larger than life – a charismatic countenance, bravado, inspirational, heroic, humorous, rebellious and defiant towards authority, but surely for the soldiers whom he commanded – just brave, inspiring and one that of immediate connect- a true leader. The image is iconic and of a person the likes of whom rarely walk the earth. There are military leaders and there is Sam Manekshaw.

His achievements - a Military Cross for an act of personal bravery in World War II; actively involved in the planning process of operations in J&K during the 1947 Indo-Pak War while posted in the Military Operations Directorate in Army HQ; in 1962, at the height of the Sino-Indian conflict, he was rushed to take over 4 Corps to stem the advancing Chinese -his famous quote - “There will be no withdrawal without orders – and these orders shall never be issued”; during his tenure as Army Commander Eastern Command, the Naga Insurgency was put down; he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, for distinguished service in the field of civil service in 1968; in June 1969, he took over as the Chief of Army Staff and remained so till January 1973. His role and contribution to the nation in ensuring a decisive victory for the Indian Army during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, leading to the creation ofBangladesh is stuff of legend. In 1972, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan and on 1st January 1973 the honorary rank of Field Marshal was conferred upon him, a first in the history of Indian military. There remains little doubt that Sam Manekshaw was India’s greatest soldier in modern times and arguably, one of the greatest in the history of modern warfare.

Maybe it is time to recall the significance of the Indian victory in the 1971 War to understand what role this great military leader of the country had to play. The 1971 Indo-Pak war was an instance when India took the military initiative, a rare occurrence. With the Indian military offensive on the anvil, the 1971 campaign was actually triggered by Pakistani pre-emptive air strikes on 3 December 1971. The war concluded two weeks later with the signing of the Instrument of Surrender, in Dhaka on 16 December, making it one of the shortest and most decisive campaigns in the history of warfare.

The 1971 War was the culmination of a long-drawn struggle in erstwhile East Pakistan. A brutal crackdown by the Pakistani military on the night of 25-26th March 1971 saw the persecution of the local people rise to extremely dangerous levels. Soldiers of the East Pakistan Rifles and Regiment, both of which had revolted, students, intellectual, any number of civilians who were considered to be ‘Bengali Resistance, were hunted, hounded and massacred, triggering the migration of an estimated 10 million refugees into Indian territory, in what was coined as ‘demographic aggression’. Under these circumstances,India was forced to intervene, both due to her inability to be a bystander in this human cleansing going on in East Pakistan, and growing security concerns of her own given the massive influx of refugees. On the diplomatic front, there did not appear to be much coming out against the atrocities being committed by the Pakistan military in Bangladesh. Therefore, India decided to play an active role and extended support to the Bangladeshi freedom fighters despite opposition from the United States and China. On 3rd December, the Indian Army entered Bangladesh, and in less than a fortnight, ended the war, leading to creation of Bangladesh and India’s greatest military victory.

Hopes for Indian Defense Reform Fade

Government reversals at the polls are likely to see task force recommendations put on the backburner.
By Nitin Gokhale
December 16, 2013

The rout of the ruling Congress party in four recent provincial elections, including one in the national capital of Delhi, has effectively put paid to any hopes that defense reforms will proceed any time soon in India.

Even at the best of times, the government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, now in the last six months of its second term, has been reluctant to alter the country’s defense management architecture.

Now, with the Congress party’s moral and political authority further weakened after the severe electoral setback, Singh and his status quoist Defense Minister AK Antony are likely to put recent recommendations by a veteran group of strategic thinkers and former government bureaucrats permanently in cold storage, despite a half-hearted attempt to kickstart the process a month ago.

The Naresh Chandra Task Force on National Security, given the mission of recommending changes in national security apparatus, submitted its report in 2012. More than a year later, in October this year, the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), comprising India’s three service chiefs, came up with a blueprint for implementing some of the main recommendations in the Task Force report and sent it to the Prime Minister’s Office for a final decision.

The expectation was that by early 2014, if not by end of this year, the prime minister would restructure India’s forces to meet the mounting challenges in India’s near abroad and extended neighborhood.

The recommendations are not radical. They include appointing a four-star permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff for a fixed tenure of two years; creating three more tri-service commands: Special Operations, Cyber and Aerospace; and reverting the Andaman Nicobar Command to the Indian Navy.

Creation of the three new commands was deemed necessary to generate more synergy among the three services, seen as largely working in separate verticals. Although the new commands may take some time to become operational, actually setting them up was considered doable in the short term. According to the available details, the proposed cyber command is to be headed by a three-star officer drawn from either of the three services by rotation, the special operations command is to be led by the army, while the aerospace command would be headed by an air force officer.

The task force proposed returning the Andaman Nicobar Command – considered India’s springboard into East Asia and the South China Sea – to the Navy after more than a decade of treating it as a tri-service command. In contrast, the status of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) – custodian of India’s nuclear arsenal – is to remain unaltered.

Antony: Chinese incursions possible

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 16

Admitting that local-level tensions along the India-China boundary were a reality, Defence Minister AK Antony today said that future transgressions by troops could not be ruled out totally.

He said that the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), signed in October, was helping in sorting out irksome issues much faster.

Antony was speaking after paying homage at the memorial at India Gate to mark Vijay Divas. Vijay Divas is celebrated to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

He said issues like transgressions were now getting resolved immediately in the wake of the signing of the BDCA, inked when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Beijing.

Antony said: "Our decision is to maintain peace and tranquillity. Whenever any incident takes place... that possibility cannot be ruled out as the boundary is very long, both sides should come together and resolved it amicably."

He was asked to comment on the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and in the backdrop of Chinese troops recently apprehending five Indian shepherds on the charge that they were in Chinese territory and returned them only after a flag meeting between the two sides.

India and China have 167-year-old boundary dispute. Both sides dispute the alignment of the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control -- the name of the de facto border between the two countries.

The incident related to the five shepherds had occurred in the Chumar sector located on the south-eastern edge of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir in the first week of December.

With temperatures in those areas plunging to minus 30 degrees Celsius, it is reported that the horses belonging to the shepherds had strayed across the border and were detained by the Chinese. There is no demarcated alignment of the LAC on the ground.

On the incident, Antony said the Indians who were apprehended by PLA troops were civilians and not Army personnel and the matter was resolved through talks.

“Of late, we have been able to resolve issues without much delays. That is an improvement,” the Defence Minister said.

To a question on the border pact with the Chinese, he said, "After the agreement -- by and large -- whenever any issue arises, we are able to resolve it as quickly as possible. It does not mean that there would not be any issue as long as the India-China border issue is not settled. There can always be a possibility."

India and China had signed the agreement with an aim of preventing any possible flare-up between the two sides along the LAC, where both the countries have been upgrading their infrastructure.

Commenting on the ongoing boundary resolution talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries, the Defence Minister said that people should "not expect miracles".

“What we are trying is that till a satisfactory solution to the boundary issue is found, whenever incidents take place on the border, through discussions and the official mechanism, resolve those issues,” he said.

Human InSecurity in India


Recent communal violence highlights India’s human security problem.
December 17, 2013

The following is an edited extract from Ram Mashru’s excellent new book Human InSecurity: Fear, Deprivation and Abuse in India. It is reprinted with permission.

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is India’s most populous state. Home to 199 million residents (16.5% of India’s population) the state is as big as Brazil. India’s national rural-to-urban ratio is 2:1, lower than UP’s where there are 3.8 people living in rural areas for every 1 in towns and cities. Furthermore Muslims, who make up around 13 percent of India’s population, represent 20 percent of UP’s inhabitants, with the proportion rising as high as 45 percent in some western parts of the state. It is in the context of these extraordinary demographics that the recent bloodshed in the state, between Hindu Jats and Muslims, needs to be understood.

Muzaffarnagar, a small city in the prosperous “sugar belt” of UP, became the epicenter of the riots in the worst case of communal violence India has seen in over a decade. Not since 1992, when Hindu mobs tore down the Babri Masjid – a 16th century mosque said to be built on the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple – has UP witnessed such large-scale ethnic violence.

On August 27, 2013 three men, one Muslim and two Hindu, were killed in the village of Kawal when fights broke out over the alleged harassment of a Jat girl. Days after the triple murder a “grand assembly” – mahapanchayat – was organized in Muzaffarnagar by Hindu Jats to discuss the safety of their women. Videos recorded at the meeting show local politiciansmaking incendiary speeches inciting attacks against Muslims. The violence flared on September 7 when, according to reports, Muslims pelted stones at those leaving the assembly. By mid-September – after days of looting, arson, beatings, rape and murder – as many as 55,000 had fled their homes, hundreds had been injured and close to 60 lives were lost.

Though the violence has ceased, the riots have spilled over into a humanitarian crisis. Of those that escaped tens of thousands have taken shelter in makeshift refugee camps inside mosques and religious schools. The government responses, at both the state and federal level, have been criticized as woefully inadequate. No efforts have been made to build shelters, provide necessities or resettle the displaced, leaving them dependent on handouts from locals. On September 16, flanked by cameras and journalists, the triumvirate of the ruling Congress party – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Party President Sonia Gandhi and heir apparent Rahul Gandhi – swept into Muzaffarnagar for a few hours to hear local grievances. Their visit amounted to nothing in the form of relief. In November, UP’s Chief Minister, Akilesh Yadav, appeared on national news channels urging people to return to their homes. But months later those who fled riot-afflicted areas are too afraid to go back or have nothing to go back to.

Hillary Clinton's Afghanistan Problem

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
December 17, 2013

Over the past year, and in the past month in particular, there have been a number of pieces evaluating Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and contrasting her performance with that of her successor, John Kerry. (See, for example, Michael Hirsh in Foreign Affairs [4], David Rohde in the Atlantic [5] and Susan Glasser at P[6]OLITICO [6] Magazine [6].) There is a general consensus among these authors that goes roughly as follows: Clinton was a good, but not great, diplomat. She was a competent manager of the State Department, but took few risks and made little effort to solve major international problems. As Aaron David Miller, quoted in Glasser’s article, says, “She was a fine [secretary of state] but not consequential.” Conversely, Kerry has been much more of a risk-taker, throwing himself aggressively into efforts to negotiate a final-status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, bring about a truce in the Syrian civil war, and resolve the dispute between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activities.

There is a fair bit of truth to this portrait. But two points are worth adding to the discussion. First, some of the risks Kerry has taken have been largely the result of changes in the international environment. The best example of this is in Iran, where Hassan Rouhani was elected president to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Paul Pillar wrote [7] shortly after Rouhani’s election, his victory brought “to Iran’s presidency the candidate who was least associated with attributes of the Iranian regime that the West finds most offensive.” Pillar also noted that the election result was “a vote in favor of flexibility and going the extra mile to reach agreement in the nuclear negotiations.” This analysis was borne out by the process of negotiations that led to last month’s interim agreement [8]. It’s hard to imagine that this deal could have been reached under Ahmadinejad or a successor with a similarly hard-line worldview. The fact that the two countries reached the deal says more about Iran than it does about any real differences between Clinton and Kerry.

Second, and more importantly, is that there is one major subject that gets short shrift in all of these assessments of Clinton: Afghanistan. Glasser only mentions the country once, in passing. Rohde and Hirsh both mention her support for the thirty-thousand-troop “surge” that President Obama ordered in his first year in office, but neither goes into much detail on the matter. None of them suggest that this decision ought to factor in significantly in our overall evaluation of Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

Iran Cancels Major Loan to Pakistan For Gas Pipeline Construction

Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister announced that Pakistan would not be receiving a $500 million loan to construct the pipeline.
December 17, 2013

After reports last week that Pakistan wanted to accelerate the construction of the joint Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline after a series of delays, Iran announced on Saturday that it would no longer finance part of the construction on the Pakistani side. The announcement represents a sudden change of heart on the Iranian side, given that the two countries met just over a week ago in Tehran and mutually agreed to “formulate a road map” to complete the gas pipeline project. The pipeline could still theoretically see completion, though not without Pakistan overcoming major financial obstacles.

The Iranian response stems in part from Pakistan’s lackluster performance but also allegedly from concerns expressed by the Pakistani side that “sanctions against Iran [are] causing hindrances in the construction of the project at the Pakistani side.” Pakistan’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi conveyed Pakistan’s interest in moving ahead with the pipeline project, which would be a major boon to energy security in energy-starved Pakistan, but said ”it was unlikely to move ahead until sanctions on Iran are lifted.”

The statement was delivered by Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi via an online comment, speaking on behalf of Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh. Zanganeh was present at the bilateral consultation over the pipeline that took place in Tehran recently.

Iranian investments in constructing the pipeline on its side of the border have exceeded $2 billion. Pakistan’s potential sources of funding remain limited — U.S. opposition to the project, over concerns that Iran-Pakistan cooperation could be deleterious to its interests, rules out an easy source of funding for Pakistan. The U.S. has instead pushed for an alternative pipeline that would deliver gas via Turkmenistan, bypassing the Iranian route entirely.

The Iranian Petroleum Ministry directly recommended that Pakistan seek financial assistance from European countries. ”Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan [Namdar] Zanganeh recommended Islamabad to demand help from third-party companies for the completion and acceleration of the project on the Pakistani soil,” Majedi said, according to Pak Tribune. Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Petroleum was receptive to the idea, according to Majedi. Recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif turned to the European Union for economic assistance.

FRIENDSHIP IN A NEW AND CHANGING WORLD

The growing relationship between India and Vietnam opens the door to a broader Asia-Pacific alignment, writes Premen Addy

Nguyen Phu Trong with Manmohan Singh, November 2013

The recent visit to India of Nguyen Phu Trong, the secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam, is a landmark in the evolving Asia Pacific geostrategic equation. The agreements signed with the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, include energy cooperation in the South China Sea and the protection of information in defence — the sum defining the future trajectory of the Indo-Vietnam relationship. However, the traction to the partnership stems from the alignment on defence and security. The training of 500 Vietnamese personnel in submarine warfare, in English language skills and the computerization of an integrated services structure and in army exercises in mountain and jungle warfare, where each side brings to the table its special strengths, plus the modernization of Vietnam’s weapons systems constitute the core of the package. If, as is likely, India exports the Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile (and its hypersonic version, when it’s ready for use in a few years’ time), it would set the seal to an ambitious partnership going forward.

Vietnam’s unequalled place in the 20th-century narrative is easily explained. The country’s founding vision was set in stone by the legendary Ho Chi Minh, but it was the military genius of Vo Nguyen Giap — acknowledged by friend and foe alike as one of history’s great captains — that brought the vision to its epic fruition. Vietnam defeated, in turn, imperial France, the United States of America and its invasive neighbour to north, the People’s Republic of China. Giap’s legions routed the Chinese expeditionary force in Cambodia and booted out Beijing’s Cambodian surrogate, the genocidal Pol Pot regime.

During its French and American wars India, understandably, could not in the scheme of things, render Vietnam material help, but there was much sympathy and admiration among the Indian people for the country’s liberation struggle. A more nuanced expression of support emanated from the government of the day in New Delhi. The event that truly bonded India and Vietnam was China’s attack on its southern neighbour in February 1979 and Deng Xiaoping’s sneering boast that “China was teaching Vietnam a lesson” taught earlier to India in 1962. While the US and Britain, in collusion with China, kept Pol Pot’s seat at the United Nations warm and succoured the monster in his jungle lair, Indira Gandhi, spurning Western pressure, recognized the Vietnamese-backed government in Phnom Penh and gave Vietnam whatever economic help India could afford, a fact much appreciated in Hanoi. The then prime minister, Pham Van Dong, visited New Delhi in 1982 for a dialogue with the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, during which he became the sole foreign leader ever to explicitly endorse India’s position on its contentious Himalayan border with China.

North Korea: Danger Ahead!

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
December 16, 2013


Shortly after the death of Kim Jong-il two years ago, I wrote that successions rarely go to plan, and that “when the prospect of absolute power and unlimited resources are combined with familial intrigue and a military and civilian leadership whose ambitions have been tempered by decades of despotic rule, succession could become downright Shakespearean.” With the recent announcement of the execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle and regent Jang Song-taek, the Bard came to mind again – a mix of Hamlet and Richard III, with hefty helping of Stalin and nuclear weapons as well.

When studying the inner workings of North Korean politics, what one knows is often dwarfed by what one thinks based on an understanding of Pyongyang’s history, some Kremlinology, and a great deal of educated guesswork. In the coming days and months, analysts will likely posit several explanations for Jang’s rather sudden arrest and execution. But when you pore through these analyses, it is important to delineate between what we know and what we think.

We know that being a leader in North Korea can be hazardous to your health, unless your name is Kim Jong-un. Of the eight senior leaders that surrounded Kim Jong-il’s hearse during his official funeral ceremony, only two elderly military officials and Kim Jong-un himself remain. The rest have been purged, as have a slew of officials and aides linked to the ancien regime. And this is not the purge when an official turns old and gray under house arrest or flees to a villa overseas – the purged in North Korea tend to be summarily killed, [4]often in sadistic fashion [4].

The most recent round of purges, so far as we know, centered around Jang and several of his confidants, including North Korea’s former Ambassador to Switzerland Ri Su-yong. Among his other responsibilities, Ri had managed Kim Jong-il’s personal funds. Potentially linked to these purges are [5]reports [5] that an aide to Jang had recently defected to South Korea with information about Kim’s economic activities and North Korea’s nuclear program. [6]Other theories of what precipitated this purge abound [6], from Jang’s losing a power struggle with elements of the military leadership or with other regents, significant policy disagreements between Jang and Kim about economic reform, and even that Jang’s ouster was due to the scorn of his wife and Kim’s aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, for infidelity. Additionally, some believe that Kim’s aunt may be in poor health, which may be driving Kim to accelerate the transition away from the regency system to a more unified power structure.

Five Ships of the Chinese Navy You Really Ought to Know About

The Chinese navy isn’t just an aircraft carrier and submarines—here are five other warships you’ll be seeing a lot of
Kyle Mizokami in War is Boring

The Chinese navy has undergone an unprecedented buildup over the last decade. It has deployed an aircraft carrier, launched and recovered airplanes from a carrier flight deck, sent new nuclear submarines to sea and even changed its name from the unwieldy “People’s Liberation Army Navy” to simply, well, the “Chinese navy.”

The refurbished carrier Lioaning and the new submarines garner the most attention, but the Chinese navy—now arguably the world’s second most powerful after the U.S. Navy—has made equally important advances with other types of warships. New destroyers, corvettes, troop carriers, hospital ships and even spy ships round out a big and versatile fleet.
Type 056 corvette. Via Chinese Internet
Type 056 corvette

During the Cold War, Nikita Krushchev famously bragged that nuclear missiles were rolling off Soviet assembly lines “like sausages.” China may be restrained in producing nuclear missiles, but it sure is making Type 056 corvettes like sausages, with at least 20 under construction since 2012.

China’s Contradictory Foreign Policy

Why does China undermine its patient diplomacy with sudden announcements like the ADIZ?
By Yo-Jung Chen
December 16, 2013

China’s decision to impose an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over a large part of the East China Sea has heightened tensions in an already volatile area, and appears to have dashed Japanese hope for a thaw in relations. The brouhaha that accompanied the announcement of the ADIZ was not so much about China’s legitimate right to set up such a zone as it was about the unilateral and bullish way it was imposed.

The ADIZ is the latest in a series of Chinese actions that combined seem to show a contradiction in the way the Asian giant engages its neighbors. This contradiction undermines Beijing’s diplomatic outreach to its immediate neighbors. Take ASEAN, where China appeared to have largely succeeded in building an image of a peaceful partner in a region torn between the fear of an assertive giant up North and the temptation of doing business with the world’s second economy, at a time of growing uncertainty about U.S. reliability in this part of the world. China was even able to form an economic partnership with Vietnam, a historical foe and long-time adversary in a territorial spat over the Spratly Islands.

This is where the contradiction begins. While in recent months Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have mounted a charm offensive in Southeast Asia, the painstakingly built image of Chinese goodwill in Southeast Asia literally evaporated overnight following the inelegant Chinese response to Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines. It did not help neither when, after hurriedly dispatching a People’s Liberation Army Navy hospital ship in response to worldwide criticism, China also chose to dispatch its new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to the South China Sea, scene of multiple maritime disputes with Southeast Asian countries.

ASEAN leaders visited Tokyo for a December 13 summit commemorating the 40th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN friendship. The Chinese ADIZ could not have come at a better time for the 10 ASEAN leaders to assess the Chinese threat, as they flew by – if not through – the new zone on their way to Tokyo.

A Honeymoon Ended

An unexpected victim of China’s ADIZ is its newly acquired friendship with South Korea. United by their shared resentment of Japan’s nationalist leader Shinzo Abe, these two neighbors embarked five months ago on a rapid political and economic rapprochement. The Sino-South Korean “honeymoon,” unthinkable during the Cold War, has left Japan in total isolation in its neighborhood and constitutes a headache for the U.S., which has no interest in seeing the rift widen between its two most important allies in Northeast Asia.

In June, South Korean President Park Geun-hye even broke with long-held diplomatic tradition by making a landmark visit to China before visiting Japan.

However, subsequent developments, such as China’s slowing economic growth, a lingering territorial feud, mutual mistrust on mainly security issues, and China’s apparent failure to keep a check on North Korea, have since contributed to cooling the ardor, prompting South Koreans to begin to have second thoughts about their new friendship.

The Senkaku Islands as Cold War Berlin

Despite important differences, the East China Sea dispute in many ways mirrors the Berlin question.
December 17, 2013

Given the circumstances in which the planning took place, as well as the complexity of the issues involved, the WWII Allied powers did a commendable job creating postwar Europe. Proof enough of that is that, much like the Congress of Vienna, but in contrast to the Treaty of Versailles or even post-WWII Asia, no power was so dissatisfied with the postwar order that they were willing to wage war to change it. Indeed, despite the immense changes Europe has undergone since WWII, none have required a general war to bring about.

Berlin was the most glaring exception to the Allied powers generally prescient planning efforts. As one U.S. diplomat in Germany remarked bitterly in 1959, the “existence of [an] island of West Berlin, surrounded by hostile territory, results from political determination many years ago more remarkable for naiveté than long-range judgment.” The former and current capital of Germany was divided in a nearly unworkable manner that provided the fodder for many of the early Cold War crises, and helped bring the superpowers the closest to war they ever came. Although there are at least as many differences between the two, there are some telling similarities between Cold War Berlin and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands today.

In planning for the postwar era, the allied powers decided to make Berlin a divided city in a divided country. The city like the country was divided into four parts with the Soviets, British, French and Americans each controlling a sector (the Western powers unified their sectors during the first Berlin crisis in 1948). Although they had a vague idea of wanting to re-unify Berlin as the future capital of a German state, the onset of the Cold War quickly made that plan unworkable in the near term.

The biggest issues for both the U.S. and Soviets were borne out of the fact that Berlin was located deep inside East Germany. For the U.S. and its allies, this presented the thorny problem of how they could possibly protect this small chunk of territory should the Soviets and East Germans decide to move on the city. For the Soviets and their East German proxies, the main issue was that West Berlin was proving to be the major transit point for Warsaw Pact citizens seeking to immigrate to the Western world. This magnitude of the emigration problem lay not only in the sheer numbers of people fleeing, large though that was, but also in that those leaving were the Warsaw countries’ best and brightest citizens.

China, Uyghur Activists Dispute Nature of Latest Xinjiang Violence

As more violence erupts in Xinjiang, Beijing and Uyghur activists fight to control the narrative.
December 17, 2013

Reports from Tianshan, the Xinjiang government’s news service, indicate that 16 people died during an incident in Xinjiang late Sunday night. According to the report, Chinese police were in Shufu County, in the Kashgar region, seeking to apprehend unnamed criminal suspects. The police force was then attacked by rioters throwing homemade explosives and wielding machetes. According to the report, the rioters killed two policemen, and then police opened fire, killing 14. Two unnamed suspects were arrested after the incident.

When asked about the attack, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China is a country ruled by law, with a responsibility to fight crime and protect citizen’s lives and the security of their property. As for the specific incident in Kashgar, Hua said that the Chinese security forces had defeated a “violent terror gang.” The rioters’ attack, she added, should receive international condemnation. Violent terrorists’ plots to destroy Xinjiang’s economy, social stability and ethnic cooperation will not succeed, she said.

Kashgar, located around 50 miles from the Kyrgyzstan border in far-western Xinjiang, has been the site of violence before. According to the South China Morning Post, counting Sunday’s violence there have been four incidents in Kashgar this year alone, with a total of 64 dead. Kashgar was previously the site of a 2008 attack that killed 16 policemen. During that attack, assailants threw homemade explosives at policemen during their regular morning drills. China blamed the attack on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Uyghur-separatist terrorist group that was reportedly encouraging terrorist attacks in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

The ETIM’s successor, the Turkestan Islamic Party, claimed responsibility for a car crash in Tiananmen Square in October of this year. The crash killed five people and injured 40. In the aftermath, many Uyghurs activists worried that the incident would spark a crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uyghur population. Such activists reject Beijing’s claim that there are organized terrorists groups operating in Xinjiang. Rebiya Kadeer, President of the World Uyghur Congress, recently toldThe Diplomat that “there is absolutely no organized terrorist threat” in Xinjiang.

Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day, violence continues

Shubhajit Roy Posted online: Tue Dec 17 2013

Dhaka : An uneasy calm prevailed in the Bangladesh capital Monday as the country celebrated the 43rd Victory day of Bangladesh - the day when the Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini fighters in 1971.

Newspapers were awash with Raghu Rai’s pictures of the 1971 war and TV programmes carpet-bombed images and interviews of war veterans, including glorious references to General J F R Jacob.

Throughout last week, vehicles have been burnt, people have been killed on the streets of Bangladesh as Jamaat-e-Islami and its youth wing has been protesting the hanging of their fundamentalist leader Abdul Quader Mollah, widely known as the “Butcher of Mirpur”. Since last week, about 30 people have been reported to be killed.

While Dhaka’s roads witnessed the usual traffic jam Monday and people could be seen walking or travelling by buses, life seemed normal in the city on a national holiday. Outside the city, there have been reports of five people being killed on Monday.

The Victory Day witnessed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of Opposition Khaled Zia - both at odds over the holding of national elections - paying their tributes separately to the liberation war martyrs.

To commemorate the day, about 27,117 youths attempted a world record by creating the largest “human flag” in red and green, with help from mobile telecom operator Robi and the Bangladesh Army, at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.

But beneath the veneer of celebrations, the volatile situation was reflected in a piece by the English language daily, Daily Star, whose editor Mahfuz Anam wrote on the “public sufferings caused by the current wave of destructive politics”.

“Bangladesh has witnessed many tumultuous political events, but never anything remotely similar in terms of violence directed at the common people as it is seeing now. Hurling petrol bombs into a running bus full of passengers; throwing gun powder at people sleeping inside covered vans and setting them alight; overturning CNGs and then dousing the drivers with petrol and setting them on fire; stabbing, assaulting with iron rods or knives, cannot but constitute deliberate attempts to kill in the name of political agitation. This our people had never seen before.”

The Daily Star published some very graphic pictures of those who have been deliberately set on fire by activists of the opposition and injured during hartals and other incidents of mass violence.

Deterrence by Denial: How to Prevent China From Using Force

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
December 16, 2013

In contrast to ongoing limitations, shared interests, and even opportunities for increasingly-robust cooperation far away, China’s navy and other services are achieving formidable [3]anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) [3] capabilities closer to shore. Beijing is prioritizing an “anti-Navy [4]” to deter U.S. intervention in the Western Pacific over a blue-water, power-projection navy. The Chinese have identified, and are exploiting, limitations in U.S. weapons systems that stem from fundamental physical principles. For example, quiet diesel submarines will always be difficult to detect, track and kill. Fixed targets like airbases will always be difficult to defend against ballistic missiles.

Beijing seeks to wield this growing might to pursue outstanding territorial and maritime claims and to [5]carve out [5]in the Yellow, East and South China Seas and airspace above them a “zone of exceptionalism” within which existing global security, legal, and resource management norms are subordinated to its parochial national interests. This can only weaken the global system on which all nations’ security and prosperity depends, and will continue to destabilize a vital but vulnerable region that remains haunted by history. If not addressed properly, China’s rise as a major A2/AD military power could give it unprecedented capacity to deny sanctuary and communications to U.S. forces, and thereby challenge the type of military operations for which the U.S. has equipped and prepared. While the Soviet Union posed significant challenges to the U.S. Army and Air Force based in continental Europe in the Cold War, the precision-weapons revolution and the maritime geography of the Asia-Pacific theater enable Chinese A2/AD to render U.S. forces, largely naval and island-based air forces, far more vulnerable.

While conflict with China should be avoided, China must also be prevented from significantly coercing its neighbors or unilaterally altering the region’s status quo in ways that are inimical to the interests of the U.S. and its allies, as well as to regional stability in general. Failure to emphasize this point as well risks making the U.S. appear weak and acquiescent to mounting Chinese assertiveness, both to Beijing and to regional allies, friends, and partners. This risks miscalculation on Beijing’s part. It also makes taxpayers and their representatives question why significant U.S. military investments are needed in a time of austerity. This should be framed in terms of ensuring the continued functioning of the existing international system. Washington should clarify, as necessary, that it is not trying to contain Beijing per se, but rather to resist any Chinese actions that would harm the existing system. Conversely, positive Chinese behavior—such as providing international public security goods in the Gulfs of [6]Aden [6] or [7]Guinea [7], or helping to stabilize the North Korean border if the [8]barbaric Kim Jong-un regime [8] collapses, should be encouraged and applauded.

To ensure that Beijing cannot use force—or the threat of force—to change the status quo in the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. must maintain military capabilities that will deter any threatening or aggressive actions by China—even as they cooperate in areas of shared interest. At a minimum, the U.S. must continue to prevent force from being used to resolve Asia-Pacific disputes and cooperate where it can until Beijing embraces the mutual efforts required for the two Pacific powers to achieve durable, if frequently or even continuously [9]competitive, coexistence [9]. To ensure this, the U.S. should demonstrate the capability to deny China the ability to seize and hold disputed territories. Given the inherent defensiveness of the U.S. approach, it should be possible to meet core objectives at an affordable price through the most critical timeframe—likely over the coming decade [10]—with a bottom-line strategy of [11]deterrence by denial [11].

China Ascendant: Is Conflict Inevitable?

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
December 17, 2013

Thucydides’ purpose in his great epic was to account for “what led to this great war falling upon the Hellenes.” He acknowledged that what we know as the Peloponnesian War was produced by many different disputes and depicted them masterfully, laying bare their specificities. But, in the opening pages, he warns us that dwelling on the particulars obscures “the real reason” for carnage that ruined Hellas. “What made war inevitable,” he tells us early on in his masterpiece, “was the growth of Athenian power and the fear it caused in Sparta.” He might have added, for his account makes it abundantly clear that such was the case, “and in Sparta’s closest allies as well.” Among the lessons offered by Thucydides is that we ought not to dwell on the trees and risk missing the lines of the forest—the larger trends that drive politics and war.

Thucydides’ epic has inspired many explorations of what in international-relations scholarship is referred to as “power transitions [3].” Not a few of these studies conclude that these mega-shifts are among the most perilous periods in the politics among nations. Why? Because the established, dominant power fears that, even if it is has not yet been surpassed and may not be anytime soon, the margin of its advantage over an ascendant rival, which it has long watched uneasily, is diminishing—and will likely continue to do so. The rising power, having lived under a political-military-cultural-institutional order that reflects the preponderance of the reigning hegemon, and that therefore protects and advances its interests, grows in confidence. Eager to demonstrate to itself and others that a new era is nigh, it begins to probe and to push so as to assay the reaction and explore the possibilities.

Shifting circumstances and the attendant uncertainty make power transitions hazardous. The leaders of the dominant power whose position is being eroded feel that they must show that their side is still supreme. That impulse arises from the need to retain legitimacy among their citizenry and to show the challenger that they still have plenty of power and resolve and should not be underestimated. The leaders of the ascendant rival, on the other hand, are no less eager to show their own people, the hegemon, and the latter’s allies, that a new arithmetic of power is emerging. One side’s fear and the other side’s hubris produce a volatile mix. The result need not be, as it was in Hellas, a catastrophic war. A shifting balance of power could instead create a more benign context, though one conducive to apprehension, limit-testing, crises, misperceptions, and strategic reassessments prompted by uncertainty and fear.

The latter denouement is worth keeping in mind when one assays the origin and significance of recent events involving the assertion of China’s power in East Asia. One of these was Beijing’s proclamation on November 23 of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) extending into the East China Sea and covering islands that Japan and South Korea control but that China claims. An ADIZ is standard practice and thus hardly an illegal or belligerent act, but China’s version is more stringent than is customary. It requires aircraft passing through to file flight plans with the Chinese authorities and to be under the guidance of Chinese air-traffic controllers, even if the plane is not heading to China. Moreover, it overlaps with Japan’s ADIZ, covering the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, which both China and Japan claim.

Kerry’s Return to Vietnam Is All About Blocking China



...and dealing with Beijing's thirst for energy.
DECEMBER 16, 2013

John Kerry is back in Vietnam -- his first time as Secretary of State -- with a mission different from the dozen he's taken before. This latest round of U.S. support for Vietnam is largely about energy: who can develop it, how they can develop it, and what the consequences will be.

That is especially important for countries bordering the South China Sea, theoretically a potential motherlode of oil and gas in the future, but a source of constant low-level conflict today.

Beijing estimates that there are more than 100 billion barrels of oil under the South China Sea, about ten times more than U.S. officials see there. And the Chinese are doing their best to keep that oil to themselves. Chinese vessels have interfered with Vietnamese and other foreign ships looking for oil in recent years. Just one year ago, a Chinese ship apparently deliberately interfered with Vietnamese oil-survey efforts by cutting the survey ship's cable. In November, Vietnam and India reached a deal for additional oil exploration in the South China Sea, which drew an immediate rebuke from China.

The United States announced Monday a new maritime partnership with Vietnam that on paper will help Hanoi police its waters. In reality, it's a way to give Vietnam a bit more muscle to defend its territorial interests in the potentially oil- and gas-rich but contested waters of the South China Sea.

At the same time, Kerry breathed new life into the so-called "Lower Mekong Initiative" that's meant to help Vietnam and its southeast Asian neighbors develop in a sustainable way, deal with the ravages of climate change -- and keep China's seemingly bottomless appetite for energy from wrecking Southeast Asia's agrarian economy.

The maritime partnership with Vietnam is particularly intriguing, because it gives the United States a way to strengthen a country that isn't an ally and to whom sales of military hardware are limited by law.

As part of a regional maritime partnership, the United States will provide Vietnam with $18 million "to enhance the capacity of coastal patrol units," including the provision of five fast patrol boats for the Vietnamese coast guard. Nominally, the State Department said, that's part of an aid package to help Vietnam and its neighbors deal with traditional constabulary duties such as anti-piracy, drug trafficking, and the like.

But Secretary Kerry made clear in Hanoi that the patrol boats will have a more important mission: "Peace and stability in the South China Sea is a top priority for us and for countries in the region. We are very concerned by and strongly opposed to coercive and aggressive tactics to advance territorial claims," he said, in a clear reference to China, which has used strong-arm tactics to lay claim to nearly the entire sea, most notably through the notorious nine-dash line. That's China's not-so-subtle way of trying to grab entire swathes of the South China Sea that are claimed by five other countries (six, if you include Taiwan).