22 December 2013

Indifferent India allows Chinese land grab on the border

December 20, 2013

People on the Ladakh sector of the border with China are compelled to ponder over a heart ripping prospect of a future in China -- a country they viscerally hate for steadily usurping their land. Their swelling disillusionment and popular frustration with India is fraught with grave geo-strategic and national security implications for the country. New Delhi's morbid indifference is indeed frightening, says R N Ravi.

The guardians of the nation, ensconced in rarefied shells on the Lutyens knoll, though are ever quick to dismiss media reports of Chinese intrusions into the Indian territory as 'acne' and 'pimple', but Indians living at the border feel differently. They are appalled and intrigued at Delhi’s denial of the daylight truth about steady loss of their livelihood -- the precious pastures crucial for sustenance of their livestock to the Chinese.

A recent week in the villages along the border in the Ladakh sector left the writer with a queasy feeling that the people who are the vanguard of our defence against China, are feeling forsaken and suffering a wrenching emotional re-orientation of their sense of belonging. Persistent betrayal by New Delhi has shaken their innate sense of Indian-ness. They are compelled to ponder over a heart ripping prospect of a future in China -- a country they viscerally hate for steadily usurping their land, smashing and grabbing Tibet -- the country they share their cultural and spiritual values with and waging a treacherous war on India. Their swelling disillusionment and popular frustration with India is fraught with grave geo-strategic and national security implications for the country. New Delhi's morbid indifference is indeed frightening.

Contrary to popular perception, diligently engendered by wilful distortions of the country's frontier's geography by the rulers and their misleading utterances that the Ladakh's region along India-China border is a sprawling stretch of desolate rocks and dead mountains where 'not a blade of grass grows', it is the home and habitat of a people who are culturally rich, politically sensitive and emotionally proud Indians. Unfortunately the country is sorely testing their patriotism.

From Shyok, the northernmost border village in the sector where China has been the most aggressive -- the latest reported aggression was in April this year in which they grabbed further some 30 kms of the Indian territory, to Demchok, the easternmost border village, an stretch of some 400 kms, the people feel utterly abandoned by the governments -- state as well as the central. Primary healthcare, education, roads and communication seem surrealistic dreams to the people. Health centres of sorts are as far as over 150 kms from the villages with no roads. From Demchok the nearest health centre is at Nyoma, the sub-divisional headquarter, over 175 kms away with no connectivity. A weekly bus trundles between Leh, the district headquarters and some lucky villages linked by mud and gravel roads during non-winter months. Thanks to solar electricity some of the villages get about 2 to 3 hours of light in the evening contingent on sunshine during the day. A primary school is a far cry for most.

Widespread sense of deprivations at the absence of the most basic necessities of life gets painfully accentuated at the stark contrast with the amenities visible a stone's throw across the border in Tibet where they seem to have everything -- hospitals, schools, network of excellent roads, 24x7 electricity and mobile phones with robust connectivity. In fact, lost in this wilderness for a week my only link with home and the world was the China mobile to which my cell phone got automatically hooked for the most part of the travel. A sneaking sense of admiration for China is palpable!

India deflects Israel's Iran warnings

By Alvite Singh Ningthoujam

Soon after news flashed over the globe about a thawing of relations between Iran and the United States after the Geneva nuclear accord, several reports surfaced analyzing how India is going to benefit from the breakthrough. For many, this interim nuclear deal has been considered as a landmark deal while Israel has watched it with jaundiced-eyes and denounced it as a "historic mistake". [1]

In India, there is optimism and pessimism over the improved US-Iran ties. While some talks of an overall boost in India-Iran relations, particularly in trade and energy-related relations, others say the deal is only for six months.

One of the most important advantages for New Delhi, according to Indian experts, is that it will now be able to play an active role in Afghanistan as a check against the Taliban, which could be helpful in the former's endeavors to strengthen its foothold in Central Asia.

With the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, Indian policy makers are looking at Iran from a very different political and logistical point of view. [2] As a result of this thaw, India could also streamline its trade and business with Tehran, which have remained constrained due to the US-led sanctions since many years.

An immediate impact could be felt on the shipping activities which have remained visibly hampered due to the sanctions imposed. Most importantly, India's import of Iranian crude oil is expected to witness some flow in the coming months. However, it also largely depends on how both the countries will find out a final solution to the oil payment imbroglio. So far, this has remained as a major challenge in India-Iran energy-related ties.

The India-Israel-Iran triangular relationship

Alongside the pros and cons of the nuclear deal, one issue that needs to be examined critically is the possible impact of such a breakthrough in India-Israel defense relations. Today, Israel is the second largest arms supplier to India, next to Russia. Military trade between the two over the last one decade is estimated at US$10 billion (with an approximate $1 billion arms trade annually). [3]

This is a significant figure considering the fact that both the countries established diplomatic relations only in early-1992. Defense cooperation is playing a very important role in India-Israel bilateral ties, though it is often kept under-wrapped mainly due to India's sensitive domestic political concerns.

From what began in the 1990s as purely a business relationship, defense cooperation between India and Israel, today has many facts, namely, arms purchases, technology-transfers and co-production, naval cooperation, counter-terrorism and military training exercise, space technology.

When NATO leaves Afghanistan

By Giuliano Battiston

JALALABAD, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's 30 million people are deeply divided over whether President Hamid Karzai should sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington that will allow US military operations to continue in the conflict-ravaged country after NATO forces leave in 2014. Some believe the BSA is important for stability in Afghanistan, others say it could invite further trouble from insurgents. Yet others believe signing the pact would antagonize countries like Pakistan and Iran.

"We are a weak country, militarily, economically and politically. That's why we need the agreement. We have to make a very pragmatic choice: accept the Americans here or face a very uncertain future with no country willing to help us," Hedayatullah Amam, a businessman in his 50s, told IPS.

The US wants to sign the pact soon as possible, but President

Karzai wants to wait it out till the next presidential elections in April 2014. However, many in Afghanistan see it as mere posturing on his part.

"Karzai will sign the agreement for sure," said Amam who was travelling in a shared taxi from capital Kabul to Jalalabad, 120 km away. "He is just playing a political game to present himself as a man protecting national sovereignty, but that will be over soon. I predict he will approve the agreement within one month, maximum two."

After the Taliban was dislodged from Kabul in 2001, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was mandated by the UN Security Council to assist the Afghan government, fight insurgency and support the growth of Afghan security forces.

China’s New ADIZ over East China Sea: Implications for India

Declaration by China of a new overlapping Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over contested islands of Diaoyu/Senkaku besides raising tensions between Tokyo and Beijing have caused reverberations in the strategic firmament of the entire Asia-Pacific region. While the new ADIZ may not have conferred any sovereignty rights over the disputed islands, it was surely an innovative way by China of advancing its claims. It also needs to be noticed that Japan had also been at work in a similar way when it announced its ADIZ in 1967. However, what is of interest to China’s neighbours both across the land and maritime borders is how China would behave as it continues to rise. Does it really believe in a peaceful rise and harmonious neighbourhood or is it merely a slogan? As China spends more and more on military in order to reach some kind of parity with the US in the long term, would it disregard the interests of its weaker and not so weak neighbours in order to realise its ‘core interests’? Problem for India or for that matter other countries affected by China’s assertive policies are how to respond to such policies.

What is of concern to India is the possibility of an ADIZ being declared over the contested Sino-Indian borders. Though sometime back spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had clarified that such ADIZ was only applicable to littoral i.e. coastal areas but then this may not be absolutely correct as ADIZ are established both over land and sea. In the announcement of such an ADIZ over Diaoyu/Senkaku islands many strategic messages are being discerned. One message is that US will not be a reliable strategic partner or ally as it would be keener to protect its own interests and therefore would not be willing to help fully its ally or partner if push comes to a shove. American economy has become so much interwoven with the Chinese economy that it may be reluctant to enter into a hot conflict with China despite its much touted rebalance strategy or pivot to Asia and its practice of Air Sea Battle concept. The fact that US Vice-President Joe Biden during his visit to Beijing post declaration of new ADIZ did not call on China to reverse the same is also being viewed with consternation by Japan and South Korea. A second message emanating from China to its neighbours is that your interests are better served by economically and strategically engaging with China rather than with a distant power like the US whose economic and military power is in decline.

The above policy of China is also being seen in line with the Sun Tzu’s dictum of best strategy being to attack an adversary’s plan and alliances rather than get into a military conflict with him. Declaration of ADIZ is also being viewed as part of China’s anti-access and area denial strategy to thwart the strategies of America and its allies on the Asia-Pacific board.

What could be India’s response if such a zone is declared by China over the disputed areas? Evidently, India is unlikely to accept such an ADIZ and the potential for risk and unintended incidents in the air space would increase. India has been in favour of status quo despite China having increased the number of incursions/transgressions along the Line of Actual Control and especially so in the Ladakh Sector. Over the years, China has also been able to increase the number of disputed areas in Ladakh sector. However, declaration of ADIZ over the disputed border areas, if and when declared, would only be one manifestation of the larger problem of as to how should India respond to China’s rise and its attempts to dictate a new strategic discourse.

Need for Enhanced Indian Surveillance in IOR

Indian Ocean, the third largest oceanic body in the world accounting for 20% of the total area of the world under water, holds a position of paramount importance for India. Since India occupies a central position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the significance of the Indian Ocean to the maritime security of the country hardly needs to be emphasized. Rightly and appropriately, India considers the Indian Ocean as its own backyard. As pointed out by the historian K.M.Pannikar, “For India, the Indian Ocean is a vital sea. Her lifelines are concentrated in that area, her freedom is dependent on the freedom of that water surface.” On another front, Indian Ocean holds the key to the climatic dynamics of the Indian sub continent including monsoon on which is dependent the fortunes of the Indian agriculture, a major contributor to the Indian economy. Further, the Indian Ocean is also crucial to the energy security of the country. According to the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, more than 80% of the world’s sea borne trade in oil transits through the Indian Ocean choke points.

In view of the rapidly expanding strategic importance of Indian Ocean, in recent years, there has been a growing clamour for strengthening and expanding the Indian presence in this vitally located oceanic body with a view to ensure the security of mainland India on a sustainable basis. Against this backdrop, sometime back, Avinash Chander, Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) , had stressed on the need for India to put in place an effective mechanism to fully monitor IOR in a complete and three dimensional manner. To accomplish this objective, he has suggested the development and deployment of about 80-100 satellites designed for covering the IOR in a detailed manner .There are said to be 19 Chinese satellites keeping a watch over the IOR. As it is, the growing Chinese space based ocean surveillance capability with particular reference to the Indian Ocean has been a matter of concern for US strategic planners. In recent years, ocean observation space platforms have emerged as a major technological tool to keep a tab on the oceanic expanse on a sustained basis with a high degree of effectiveness.

By all means, India has vital stakes in the IOR even as the geostrategic focus of the world is shifting slowly to this region through which a bulk of world’s shipping trade passes. The changing geo-political stakes in IOR in the last decade has acted as a stimulus for the littoral nations to look seawards and this presents India with a challenging opportunity to expand its influence over the countries in the IOR. Rapidly shifting geopolitical environment underpins the need for India to not only safeguard its own interests but also cater to the security needs of island nations in IOR. Clearly and apparently, India would need to boost its naval capabilities to reach out to the littoral states with a greater degree of confidence. The recent handing over of India’s home grown Advanced Light Helicopter(ALH) Dhruv to Maldives for helping this island nation carry out search and rescue operations could imply a shot in the arm for the Indian influence in IOR.

Elections and Indian Ecoinomy

There is an old truism in India that good economics doesn’t make good politics. But when the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi won his third mandate as chief minister of Gujarat in December 2012, he proclaimed the end of that traditional narrative. In Gujarat, he said, “people have shown that [they support] good economics and good governance.” Modi might well be on to something.

In most democracies, the proposition that politicians rise or fall on the backs of how the economy performed under their watch is considered received wisdom. That famous phrase that grew out of the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid,” has been copied the world over.

But in India, years of scholarship and popular commentary have argued that voters there prioritize factors other than good economic performance when evaluating incumbent governments. Namely, Indian voters are said to put more stock in patronage, populism, or parochialism. As the saying goes, in India voters do not so much cast their vote as they vote their caste. The result of this is that even governments that observers generally agree have performed well often get the boot at the ballot box.

Yet, there has been a noticeable shift in the voting patterns of Indians away from the prevailing wisdom according to thirty years’ worth of state election results and the corresponding economic records of incumbent governments. Since 2000, there have been increasing electoral returns to governments that deliver higher economic growth.

This new dynamic, albeit still nascent and uneven, is an encouraging sign of the maturation of Indian democracy. With national elections on the anvil for the spring of 2014, this is a shift India’s political parties ignore at their peril.


The quintessential example of the conundrum that good economics does little to help, and may even harm, an elected state or national leader’s future prospects is the demise of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. Ruling the state for nearly a decade starting in the mid-1990s, Naidu was the darling of the international donor community. Business leaders revered him and hailed him as a visionary for his sound economic management and pro-growth policies.

For all of his efforts, however, Naidu was unceremoniously dismissed by his state’s voters. The reasons behind Naidu’s loss are complex; they have to do as much with alliance logic and caste arithmetic as with popular disquiet over his perceived pro-rich bias.

Yet observers have elevated Naidu’s downfall to a kind of generalizable cautionary tale about Indian politics. As one scholar wrote at the time, “India has not reached a stage where the people would prefer a CEO to a politician to run the government.”

That generalization seems to have held true in the past. Looking back at more than 120 state-level contests across eighteen major states over the past three decades, it appears that Naidu’s misfortune may not be unique and that Narendra Modi’s claims are little more than wishful thinking. Between 1980 and 2012, there was almost no relationship between average per capita economic growth during a state government’s tenure in office and conventional metrics of electoral success (see figure 1). This is true whether success is gauged by the change in the percentage of seats or votes the incumbent won or simply by whether the incumbent was reelected.


There is an emerging belief among some observers of Indian politics that the ground is shifting beneath politicians’ feet. While in the past voters may not have been attentive to issues of the economy, with the passage of time—these observers argue—good economics has increasingly made for good politics. According to this view, India’s political economy has undergone a structural break in the last decade.


 The Devyani Khobragade incident is about unequal India-United States’ relations.

By N.V. Subramanian (18 December 2013)

New Delhi: The unfortunate incident concerning the Indian consul in New York must be understood and grasped at two levels. One pertains to the incident itself and the second to larger India-United States’ relations. 

However much we may choose to downplay it, a case of visa fraud is clearly made out against Devyani Khobragade. She had scarce business paying less than what was committed in writing to her nanny in the United States which having fought and outlawed slavery views such misdemeanours as a serious crime. Also, this writer has no sympathy for the Indian Foreign Service which has signally failed to advance India’s interests abroad. 

But the United States has grossly overreached itself too by humiliating the representative of a foreign state. A consular officer is subordinate to a diplomat but nevertheless enjoys some immunity, and certainly immunity in this case from arrest and from the subsequent indignities heaped on Khobragade, a young mother with small children whose husband was not in station. At the most, she should have been asked to return to India and the country warned against future visa manipulations. 

The Indian government’s response to this episode has been proportionate. It has withdrawn certain special facilities given to United States’ consulate staff which should not have been extended in the first place. Now is the occasion to retract them for all foreign missions functioning in India. India must permit no more than is proffered to its envoys abroad. India is no longer a Third World nation although many in the present government hold an inferior opinion of the country which foreign states exploit. At the same time, India’s retaliatory measures against the United States must not compromise the security of American diplomatic assets, whose responsibility entirely devolves on the Indian state. 

However, this writer does not see any immediate or satisfactory resolution of the crisis, because the United States is an arrogant and headstrong power, and has become accustomed to Indian genuflection on a wide range of matters, for which again, the Indian Foreign Service largely is to blame, but this is not to limit the culpability of politicians from the ruling and opposition parties that believe that high office is obtained in India solely by keeping to the right side of America. Which leads to the larger issue of India-United States’ relations, which must be reviewed rising above the Devyani Khobragade episode and reaching into the past.

Things Those Chinese Think (+What We Think Back)

Posted by T. Greer

Earlier this week the Carnegie Endowment for Peace published an important study (pdf version here) that presents and dissects an expansive survey of Chinese and American opinions and attitudes about their countries' relationship with each other. [1] While the Pew Global Attitude Project has been tracking both Chinese and American perceptions for years, the Carnegie study takes a novel approach to a problem common to many attempts at assessing the political relevance of Pew's results: often popular views do not reflect what the narrow group of people who actually determine policy think and feel about the issues of the day. To overcome this challenge the Carnegie team complimented their general public survey with an identical survey given to each country's policy-making "elites." They describe these elites in the following terms: 

"In the United States, the general public survey was conducted April 30–May 13, 2012, among 1,004 adults. The elite survey was conducted March 1–May 20, 2012, among 305 elites, including 54 government officials in the executive and legislative branches; 52 retired military officers; 74 business and trade leaders; 93 academics, think tank experts, and nongovernmental organization leaders; and 32 reporters, editors, and commentators. Although not representative of all U.S. foreign affairs experts, the elite survey findings are indicative of attitudes among high-ranking individuals responsible for matters related to national security or foreign policy.

In China, the general public survey was conducted May 2–July 5, 2012, among 2,597 adults in urban areas. The elite survey was conducted May 22–August 22, 2012, among 358 elites, including 75 government officials (primarily retired officials with experience at the provincial and municipal levels); 73 scholars at military research institutions; 70 business and trade leaders; 76 scholars at nonmilitary academic research institutions; and 64 professionals working for the media" (p. 5-6).From the outset a few things in this description are worth noting:

1) The survey was conducted in the early days of 2012. That was during aU.S. presidential campaign and before the Japan and China's spat over the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands ballooned to its current size.

2) No Chinese 'general-public' participants from rural areas were represented in the survey.

3) Not all the elite categories for each country are not always directly comparable, with the 'military' category being perhaps the worst offender--American 'military elites' were retired military officers, while the Chinese 'military elite' were scholars employed in military universities or research centers. 

The Political Science of Syria's War

From 'veto players' to 'emotions,' a state-of-the-art tour of the scholarship on civil wars and insurgencies.
DECEMBER 19, 2013

Syria is about to enter its third year of a brutal conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and driven millions from their homes. What was originally a peaceful uprising has devolved into the world's bloodiest civil war, fueled by an array of foreign interventions on all sides.

The Syrian conflict is hardly the first complex civil war to scar the modern world, though. Indeed, the study of civil wars is arguably the richest current research program in all of political science. So what does the political science literature on civil wars and insurgencies have to say about Syria's evolving war?

To find out, I convened a workshop last month at George Washington University's
Project on Middle East Political Science and invited more than a dozen of the leading scholars of civil wars to write memos applying their research to the Syrian case. I expected a few of them at best to be available and willing to write a non-peer reviewed article -- but instead, virtually every single scholar eagerly accepted the invitation (even if schedules ultimately kept a few away). These scholars were joined by a number of Syria specialists and a range of current and former U.S. government officials whose work focuses on Syria.

The memos prepared for the workshop are
now available here in a free PDF download in the POMEPS Brief series. The conclusion of most of the contributors' findings coincide with the deliberations in the recent Foreign Policy-sponsored "PeaceGame": The prospect for either a military or negotiated resolution to Syria's war is exceedingly grim. But that's only part of the story. More interesting, perhaps, are the reasons that Syria seems so resistant to resolution -- and how international policies have contributed to the problem.

A More Machiavellian World than Ever

December 19, 2013
Gianni Riotta

Originally published in La Stampa

Half a millennium after the publication of Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince," one of the most brilliant books ever written on political theory, the world has become more Machiavellian than ever.

United States, which has been democratic for more than two centuries and invented the Internet as a place of transparency, has now ended up in trouble for its National Security Agency (NSA) spying on allies. The former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, in his semi-free country where independent journalists are murdered, welcomed NSA mole Edward Snowden as a political refugee, as he put on his laticlave and preached to the world about human rights and privacy.

Meanwhile, in
Syria, just because President Bashar al-Assad is massacring his subjects doesn't mean that he'll meet the same fate as Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Gaddafi. He's still in power in Damascus, a merciless and bloodthirsty character lifted right from the pages of Machiavelli, who pays no attention to his conscience, just to power and its cruel nature.

The clash between
China, Japan and the U.S. over the minuscule Senkaku-Diaoyu islands oozes pure Machiavelli. Beijing implemented an "Air Defense Identification Zone" around the islands, Tokyo challenged it and Washington still sent B52s into the zone, declaring they would continue to carry out unregistered flights in the region.

In chapters 12-14, Machiavelli warns against troops borrowed from an ally because if they win, he is indebted to them. And if he loses, he is ruined. Thanks to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, a threat to the islands would require the United States to come to Japan's aid.

Evil and Ethics

Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is on the side of ethics? Machiavelli would have laughed at such questions. He would have explained to those interested, as he tried to do with those who wanted to rise, that where power and politics are concerned, moral questions and ethical integrity aren't even factored in.

In this way, America, in a delicate and yet existential way, has been celebrating the 500th anniversary of "The Prince" diligently. Canadian philosopher and politician, Michael Ignatieff, in The Atlantic magazine, commends Machiavelli, remembering that Barack Obama's choice to eliminate Osama bin Laden, was a Machiavellian moment of excellence, even if it was outside the bounds of moral and international rights.

Japan: Land of the Rising Gun

Dan Blumenthal, Michael Mazza
December 20, 2013

Japan’s first-ever national security strategy, released this week, may prove to be an inflection point in twenty-first-century Asia’s young history. Not only had Japan abided by a strict interpretation of its U.S.-written pacifist constitution over the last six decades, but Japan’s people had adopted pacifism as an important part of their national identity. And yet, somewhat suddenly, a country that has been not just wary of but eager to avoid foreign military entanglements is now implementing a more “proactive” national security policy. Its plans are good for Japan, good for Asia, and good for U.S. interests.

While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is owed Washington’s thanks for his steely leadership, congrats are also in order for Beijing. China has done what North Korean belligerence and American goading have long failed to do: awake Japan from its Rip Van Winkle-like postmodern slumber. Just four years ago, Japan’s then prime minister Yukio Hatoyama was seeking to distance Tokyo from Washington and pushing the formation of an Asians-only “East Asian Community.”

But now, according to the National Security Strategy, Japan lives in a “severe security environment.” Leaving little doubt as to the responsible party, the strategy document accuses China of “attempts to change the status quo by coercion,” intruding “into Japan’s territorial waters and airspace around the Senkaku islands,” and “unduly [infringing] the freedom of overflight above the high seas.”

Recent years have seen the Chinese navy regularly transit through the Japanese islands to the Pacific Ocean. In the fiscal year ending March 2013, Japan scrambled fighter jets 306 times in response to Chinese aircraft, a record high and the first time Chinese-induced scrambles outpaced Russian-induced ones.

Chinese and Japanese maritime forces, moreover, have been playing an ongoing game of cat-and-mouse in the East China Sea, the result of a Chinese effort to change the reality of Japan’s administrative control over the disputed Senkaku islands. Most recently, Beijing declared an “air defense identification zone” over much of the East China Sea, including the Senkakus, claiming that civilian and military aircraft within the ADIZ are required to file flight plans with China and are subject to Chinese directions. While many point to the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the islands last year as the starting point for the latest round of tension, Chinese pressure on the islands had been a near constant before then.

Beijing’s approach to the Senkakus is often attributed to Chinese nationalism and a new president, Xi Jinping, more inclined to act on nationalistic sentiment than his predecessor. But there is more to it than that. Indeed, Chinese actions in the East China Sea, including regular Chinese submarine passage through the Miyako Strait, highlight what Beijing sees as a key vulnerability—its lack of control over the waterways through which its exports, natural resource imports, and naval vessels must pass.

The Dark Side of Technology

Edge Perspectives with John Hagel

I’m going to disrupt the Silicon Valley script. You know the one. Every talk or article coming out of Silicon Valley follows the prescribed template: start with a dazzling description of awesome new digital technologies and then proceed to explore all the wonderful benefits and opportunities that these technologies will bring to us.

I’m going to do something different. I want to explore the dark side of these technologies. The side that very few tech evangelists want to acknowledge, much less talk about.

What do I mean? It’s the fact that all of these amazing digital technologies are coming together to create a world of mounting performance pressure for all of us, one where the performance pressure will continue to grow and expand on a global basis for the foreseeable future, rather than plateau and recede. Let me repeat: this pressure is not going away. Far from it. It will continue to intensify. If we make the mistake of standing still, we will fall farther and farther behind.

But that’s just the beginning. It’s not just that performance pressure is relentlessly growing for all of us. The combined impact of all of these technologies also accelerates the pace of change, making it more and more challenging for us to get to that next level of performance in a shorter and shorter period of time.

But there’s more. It wouldn’t be so bad if the pace of change was accelerating along some completely predictable path. These digital technologies are also increasing uncertainty – we are more and more vulnerable to extreme events, Taleb’s “black swans”, that come out of nowhere, gather enormous force very quickly through a global network of connections, and disrupt all of our carefully laid plans, our carefully compiled knowledge bases and our comfort levels.

Put it all together and it spells out a growing challenge. How do we keep up? How do we learn faster? How do we prepare ourselves for the cascades of unexpected events coming our way? How do we avoid mounting anxiety and the looming risk of marginalization and burn-out?

I don’t mean to deny the incredible benefits that all these technologies are bringing us. There’s a delicious paradox here: the very same technologies that bring us awesome opportunity and new possibilities are at the very same time bringing us mounting performance pressure, accelerating change and growing uncertainty. To truly harness these opportunities, we first need to acknowledge and deal with the dark side.

Newly updated reports from the Congressional Research Service

365 Days of Unequal Growth

Uri Dadush, DECEMBER 18, 2013

The global economy is recovering. Yet many people around the world do not feel that things are getting better—nor do they have much confidence that 2014 will bring significant improvements.

To some extent, this perception is correct. Countries are not like boats in a rising tide, and high levels of inequality mean that increasing national averages often provide a misleading picture of the day-to-day realities most families face. In the United States, for example, the recovery is technically over four years old. But while stock markets are booming and those at the top of the income and wealth pyramid are doing very well, the majority of households have seen essentially no improvement in living standards. Although unemployment is declining, it remains high. And the headline numbers conceal an even larger contingent of discouraged workers. Of those that are employed, many continue to fear for their jobs.

The gap between the reality of the economic recovery and people’s perceptions of it matters—a great deal, actually—for two reasons. First, consumers and investors will not reach for their wallets until they are confident things are getting better. Second, talk of a global or national recovery that people cannot feel or touch breeds cynicism and disbelief. It encourages opposition, even to sensible policies. And, as is all too evident most nights on television, it provides fuel for extremists of all hues. So it is important to understand what is driving the global recovery and why so many are not participating in it, at least for the time being.


For most countries, 2014 will be a year of improved economic performance. China, thanks to its dynamism, size, and reliance on international trade, probably exerts the single largest influence on contemporary global economic growth. Nudged along by stimulus policies, it is again advancing at a solid pace (an annualized rate of over 9 percent) and is pulling many countries along with it.

At the recent third plenum of the Chinese Communist Party, policymakers suggested that China may enact major reforms of its rural landholding system, such as giving farmers the right to own their land, and its state-owned enterprises. These reforms would help make China more reliant on market disciplines and also increase domestic demand, which in turn would reinforce China’s capacity to spur growth in its trading partners.

The situation in the United States is not quite as rosy. Most U.S. consumers remain hesitant to spend since real wages are flat or declining, and many Americans are simply not part of the national recovery.

Transatlantic Trade Negotiations And Oil

Deborah Gordon

The U.S. and EU are convening the third round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations in Washington this week, working toward the liberalization of thelargest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. The rewards of a successful free trade agreement are significant—with the potential to boost EU and U.S. GDP by approximately 0.5 percent —yet the road to resolution is riddled with sensitive issues. Harmonizing energy and environmental regulations has been particularly challenging. Discussions so far have already revealed that in today’s transforming petroleum markets, what happens in TTIP will have broader implications. Just ask the largest crude oil exporter to the United States: Canada.
When it comes to energy, North America is awash in new unconventional oil and gas, from shale formations in Texas to the oil sands of Alberta. And, as a major collective demand center for crude and refined products such as diesel, the EU continues to write large checks: U.S.-EU trade in gasoline and diesel alone was worth over $32 billion in 2012. Against the backdrop of this energy landscape, the EU is struggling to find consensus over how to balance its energy, economic, and environmental goals.

The European Union is the largest proximate market for North American crude and product exports from the East Coast and Gulf Coast. But there is a large difference in the size of the carbon footprint, for example, if the EU buys fuels sourced from dirty oil sands or the much cleaner Texas Eagle Ford fields. In 2009, the EU signaled its intention to begin ranking crude by carbon intensity with the introduction of its Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). The FQD establishes an obligation toward reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas (GHG) on EU suppliers of transport fuels by 6 percent before 2020. This economically discourages sourcing higher GHG fossil fuel feedstocks, including many unconventional oils such as Canada’s oil sands.

The final determination of how GHG intensity values are allotted for individual fuels is still being deliberated, and Canada has already engaged in a high-profile confrontation with the EU over an initial carbon intensity value for oil sands that is
23-percent higher than for conventional crudes. But these emissions could be even higher if Canada exports raw diluted bitumen (dilbit), which requires complex refining to remove excess carbon components.

The FQD may not prohibit imports of any fuels outright. But the EU must be prudent when dealing with the diverse array of global oils and petroleum products that will soon come knocking. Any attempt to regulate should be scientifically rigorous, non-discriminatory, and avoid unnecessary barriers to trade. The geo-economic waters surrounding emerging approaches to fossil fuel regulation are too stormy for anything other than durable policymaking to survive.

Rebalancing the Global Economy

Dec 20, 2013

Rebalancing the Global Economy
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Real Estate, Credit, and the Emerging Middle Class in Peru

From Jugaad to Justice: Endemic Corruption and the Possibility of an Indian Spring

Status Quo Revisited: The Evolving Ties Between China and Myanmar

Rise of the International Financial Center: Can Casablanca Emulate Dubai’s Success?

Cyber Crime: The Achilles Heel of the Business World

Berlin: A Window into Germany’s Future?

Local Government Handbook: How to Create an Innovative City

How Government Policies and Processes Are Hurting Innovation in China

Colombia and Peru: Boosting Global Competitiveness by Investing in Infrastructure

Big Bottleneck: A Weak Transportation Network Is Hurting Brazil’s Once-hot Economy

The Perfect Storm: Brazil’s Economic Climate in the Wake of Social Unrest

A Rare and Beautiful Stone Fails to Shine: Tanzania’s Missed Opportunity

Help Wanted: New Strategies Are Necessary to Increase Entrepreneurship in France

Not Exactly Silicon Valley: China’s Distinct Brand of Entrepreneurship

Starting a Company in Brazil: Not for the Faint of Heart

E-cigarettes: Lighting Up in France and Beyond

Asia or Bust: Why Japanese Firms Must Succeed in Asia to Survive

Burgeoning Wealth, Consumer Behavior, and Golf in China

The New Face of French Gastronomy

Surf vs. Turf: New Trends Are Changing Japan’s Traditional Food-consumption Habits

Market-driven Strategies: The Key to Social Impact in Peru and Colombia

Private Sector Innovation? Think South Carolina, Not Silicon Valley

Skolkovo: A Case Study in Government-supported Innovation

In this special report, students from the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies examine current trends and recent developments shaping today’s global marketplace. The articles cover a wide variety of topics ranging from technology, innovation and brand building to infrastructure, entrepreneurship and social impact.

Soft Power Doesn’t Exist

The Globalist

December 11, 2013

The diplomats are back. After a decade of warfare by the United States, its allies and proxies against various foes and their external supporters, the Iran accord shows that jaw-jaw remains more than ever necessary.

Things may go awry in the U.S. Congress and it far from clear if the Ayatollahs will truly renounce nukes but for the time being John Kerry, the EU’s Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s Mohammed Javad Zarif have shown that hard diplomacy makes a difference. They do the press conferences but no one should undervalue the gold quality diplomacy that went into the Geneva accord.

Yet, the theory and practice of diplomacy is under-valued. We have all become too enamored with the concept of soft power which displaces trained diplomats and expert foreign policy practitioners.

The End of Diplomacy?

The two great 20th century lies of world diplomacy came first from Trotsky after the Russian revolution, when he announced the Soviet Union would abolish diplomacy. Instead, he said, the revolution-born country would simply publish all foreign ministry documents and agreements. Trotsky’s position was an early precursor of the ideology of Wikileaks – that total transparency is enough to secure a better world.

The second lie came 80 years later, when Francis Fukayama who announced the ultimate victory of western liberal ideology. He saw the birth of a new era of world togetherness, in which diplomatic deals would be history. Both Trotsky and Fukayama were wrong. Diplomacy and the rough edges of international relations continue to be present. In fact, we need more diplomacy than ever before.

Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the greatest diplomatic disaster in European history it is time to insist on the primacy of diplomacy. Next summer we will mark 100 years since the drift, day-by-day, toward the outbreak of the First World War because European diplomacy misread or misunderstood what was happening. And while there is no third world war on the horizon, the long peace in mainland Europe may be lulling us into a false sense of security.

Europe: In a Sea of Conflict

Europe is a field of peace surrounded by a sea of conflict. The southern and eastern flanks of Europe, from Tripoli to Teheran, are sources of instability and often violent conflict. There is no doubt in my mind that the endless armed interventions by northern Christian powers in majority Muslim countries in recent decades, beginning with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, will be harshly judged by history.

As Edward Gibbon, the 18th century author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, noted: “In the prosecution of remote wars, the undertaking became every day more difficult, the event more doubtful, and the possession more precarious, and less beneficial” Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria surely prove that Gibbon’s observations on Ancient Rome as valid for modern Europe, Russia and America.

The Fallacy of Soft Power

One of the stock beliefs in debate over 21st century diplomacy is the division between so-called hard power and soft power – first announced by Joseph Nye. But if soft power actually existed, it would surely by now be showing results. Instead, we see around Europe either actual war or deep civil violence (as in Syria and Libya) or a comprehensive absence of peace, open borders or strong civil society. Israel-Palestine, Tunisia, the closed border between Algeria and Morocco, as well as the Western Sahara are all examples of unceasing conflict within the broader Euro-Mediterranean space.

In 2007, Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Sofia based Centre for Liberal Strategies, wrote a paper entitled ‘New World Order: the Balance of Soft Power and the Rise of Herbivorous Powers.’ They argued that ‘herbivorous’ powers (like India, South Africa and Brazil) would rise at the expense of hard powers with real military capability such as the US, Russia or China. This optimism has turned out to be unfounded.  

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia by land, sea and air and still occupies large regions of Georgian territory. Russia has used hard economic power – cutting off exports or threatening gas supplies – to bully Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia into accepting subordinate status within the greater Russian Eurasian space.

Little Power of Persuasion?

Soft power theorists say Europe proves it can work. Tell that to the Ukrainians beaten up in Kyiv as they demonstrate in favor of the Europe and against the re-Russification of their homeland. Meanwhile, India, South Africa and Brazil are seen as states with poor internal governance, endemic corruption and grotesque inequalities.

Turkey grandly announced in 2002 its foreign policy would be based on ‘zero problems’ and good relations with all neighbors. Now Turkey is in conflict with Syria, Israel, Egypt and – at least for now – has been loudly distancing itself from the EU.

Soft power advocates also like to claim disaster relief as an example of soft power. In fact, it is just charity writ large. Nations have rightly been moved to send help to the Philippines.

But we know from the help sent to starving children in Somalia or to earthquake victims in Pakistan, generosity from the United States or the EU produces no change in those countries’ political line or support for enemies of the West. Britain has given billions in aid to India without obtaining any support from India at the UN or in global disputes. The Indian prime minister has just boycotted the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Sir Lanka leaving Britain’s prime minister Cameron having to explain on the BBC why he appears to endorsing the hardliners in Colombo. Aid may be a good and worthy in itself but it is non-power, neither soft nor hard.

A Long List of Open Items

The arrival of soft power theory has paralyzed Europe. As a result, it has been unable to move forward on a number of frozen conflicts. These include:

· the failure to get Cyprus and Turkey to move on the occupied north of the island;

· the inability to help Moldova and end the Russian occupation of Transnistria;

· the Russian occupation of Georgia;

· Kosovo, where five EU member states still refuse diplomatic recognition;

· Greece’s refusal to work with Macedonia unless the country accepts some humiliating name decided in Athens;

· the impasse in Bosnia-Herzegovina;

· the Armenian enclave of Ngorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan;

 · Hungarian irredentism with claims over Slovakian and Romanian citizens;

· continuing terrorist threats in the Basque country, Corsica and Northern Ireland;

· the Lilliputian dispute between Madrid and London over Gibraltar.

 So while the EU gets a Nobel Peace Prize it is unable to secure peace in the fullest sense within Europe’s own borders.

Nor has the EU much of a soft power answer to its near abroad along the southern and eastern Euro-Mediterranean region, including:

 · the Israel-Palestine dispute;
· the Western Sahara question which poisons relations between Algeria and Morocco
· the collapse of the Arab Spring into civil disorder;
· the rise of authoritarian Islamist or secular but militarist rule along the southern Mediterranean coast.

Enter Hard Diplomacy

 Hard diplomacy is needed, with the backup of either the carrot of economic and political inclusion from the EU or the stick of economic-political exclusion. Hard diplomacy is also needed to insist on the primacy of diplomatic relations.

During the long German occupation of eastern France after 1870, Paris and Berlin still maintained diplomatic relations. America’s counter-productive refusal to recognize Iran or the refusal of Arab countries to open embassies in Israel makes inter-state relations worse, not better.

Hard diplomacy is about arriving in capitals and saying to political leaders what needs to be done – something that activist foreign ministers like Sweden’s Carl Bildt has elevated, to his nation’s and Europe’s benefit.

The twin sides of hard diplomacy can be seen in the Iran talks at the UN and in Geneva. A willingness first to sit down and negotiate paired with a determination to walk away if Iran insists on keeping open its nuclear bomb option. Hard diplomacy means no deal is better than a bad deal.

Denis MacShane was the United Kingdom's Minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005.


Friendly Fire: How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

Documents from the archive of whistleblower and former NSA worker Edward Snowden show that Britain's GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance.

The American spy stayed in northern Cornwall for three weeks. He was delighted with the picturesque setting, with its dramatic cliffs and views of the Atlantic.

In a classified report, the NSA employee also raved about the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ's field of antennas, located high above the Atlantic coast, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of London. Her Majesty's agents have been working at the site, where 29 satellite antennas are aimed skyward, for decades. The Cornwall intelligence base, once part of the Echelon global signals intelligence network, was previously known as "Morwenstow." Today the site is known as "GCHQ Bude."

In addition to its geographical conditions, which are ideal for monitoring important communications satellites, Bude has another site-specific advantage: Important undersea cables land at nearby Widemouth Bay. One of the cables, called TAT-14, begins at German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom's undersea cable terminal in the East Frisia region of northern Germany.

There were suspicions as early as this summer that the British intelligence service in Bude was eavesdropping on German targets. Now documents from the archive of US whistleblower Edward Snowdencontain the first concrete evidence to support this suspicion: German telephone numbers. SPIEGEL, Britain's Guardian and the New York Times, as part of a joint effort, were able to view and evaluate the material.

List Includes Embassies, Leaders

According to the documents, the GCHQ Bude station listed phone numbers from the German government network in Berlin in its target base as well as those of German embassies, including the one in Rwanda. That, at least, was the case in 2009, the year the document in question was created. Other documents indicate that the British, at least intermittently, kept tabs on entire country-to-country satellite communication links, like "Germany-Georgia" and "Germany-Turkey," for example, of certain providers.

The name of the European Union's competition commissioner and current European Commission vice president, Joaquin Almunia, also appears in lists as well as email addresses that are listed as belonging to the "Israeli prime minister" and the defense minister of that country.

The details from the British intelligence agency's databases could have political consequences. The British will now face an uncomfortable debate over their activities, which are apparently also directed against partner countries in the EU and the political leaders of those nations. SPIEGEL already reported in September on a GCHQ attack on partly government-owned Belgian telecommunications provider Belgacom.

Popular as the Dashing Antithesis of the War in Europe

Lawrence of Arabia Became
T.E. Lawrence led the Arab Revolt Against the Turks and Found Fame as the Antithesis of the faceless World War I combatants dying by the thousands in Europes’s trenches.

The passing of Peter O’Toole this week has brought an abundance of Laurentian iconography to TV screens, web pages and YouTube. For millions, O’Toole wasLawrence of Arabia. Over time, the incarnations of actor, character, and historical figure have coalesced into a single essence.

In what seems to be a strange convergence, Lawrence’s legend has been further enhanced by Scott Anderson’s recent history, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Through the lives of four characters, the book delves into the diplomatic machinations of the Great Powers during and after World War I that shaped the region’s fate. Although all the book’s main subjects are fascinating, Lawrence gets pride of place.

And, in the coming year, we are about to observe the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The expected barrage of books on the causes and consequences of the conflict has already begun, and Lawrence will likely play a notable role in the salvos.

Lawrence was always fortunate in his iconographers: First, the American journalist Lowell Thomas in 1919 just after the Great War ended, and then the English director David Lean in 1962, more than 40 years later. Both undertook ambitious theatrical projects. Thomas, back from a foray to the Middle East where he’d spent two weeks covering Lawrence, played to audiences in New York and later London in an act that was in equal parts historical lecture, exotic travelogue, and brash vaudeville. That he never stuck around long enough to see Lawrence in action did not prevent the imaginative Thomas from describing vivid combat encounters in his 1925 best-seller, With Lawrence in Arabia.

Although Thomas ballyhooed the name “Lawrence of Arabia,” it was David Lean who brought it to a world-wide audience in his epic film. Lean’s movie, may be closer to the truth—always elusive with the enigmatic Lawrence—than some of the enthusiasms in Thomas’s account. Benedict Nightingale, in his New York Times obituary, notes that O’Toole read everything about his subject, imbibed Bedouin culture, learned to ride a camel, and virtually became Lawrence in his preparation for the role. We are struck by how much the warrior was an actor and the actor imbued the warrior. In real life both men shared the gift of audacity; they were subversive, dissident and seductive.

Lawrence was not only a warrior but a writer. His Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the seminal war memoirs of this or any time. The essayist Hillel Halkin has written of this exceptional chronicle: “If one were to read it as fiction, Seven Pillars of Wisdom would be the greatest war novel in English literature.”

Halkin raises an intriguing question. How would the English novelists who fought in the Great War—or for that matter the writer-combatants of any nationality—compare with the novelistic Lawrence? Virtually all the great novels that emerged from World War I were set on the Western Front. This speaks not only to the writing on the Great War but the fighting as well. And it goes to the heart of Lawrence’s canonization as an icon of that conflict.