23 March 2014

Henderson Brooks Report on 1962 War: ‘Secrecy’ an Ostrich Act

Guest Column by Professor B. R. Deepak

There is nothing new about the Henderson Brooks- P S Bhagat Report, the only fact that is established by Neville Maxwell by uploading it on his website is that he indeed possessed a copy as was widely believed, for he has vastly quoted from the Report in his book India’s China War published eight years after the 1962 blunder.

The Chinese government is also believed to own a copy as is clear from the books written in Chinese on 1962. Therefore, to keep the Report a ‘top secret’ as is the case with other archival documents pertaining to British India and Tibet is indeed an ostrich act. Declassifying the Report will demonstrate the willingness of the government to learn from our past mistakes, that it is ready to overhaul country’s defence strategies and preparedness as well as incoherent policy decisions between various ministries and departments. Therefore, the government must declassify it in supreme national interest.

Maxwell has held the prematurely conceived ‘forward policy’ of India as a culprit for the war, where as he has maintained a silence on the changing border lines in the Western Sector, especially the 1960 claim line by China. He had no answer for the same when he visited my department in late 80s. Therefore, in order to understand the matrix of ‘forward policy’ it is imperative to understand the overall border situation prevalent at that point in time. The situation on the borders had deteriorated drastically in the wake of Sino-Indian agreement of 1954 and had culminated in the Konka and Longju bloody incidents on Western and Eastern Sectors. The Tibetan revolt and the flight of the Dalai Lama in 1959 added fuel to the fire. The opportunity of reaching out a settlement when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited India in 1960 was lost as India was not willing to negotiate the undemarcated and undefined border.

In the face of such a hostile coexistence, China built up its defenses and enhanced communication links in the border areas. Apart from building Aksai Chin Road, Shi (1992: 163) tells us that “By May 1960 a road connecting western Tibet with the Indian border was completed. A network of roads connecting Lhasa to Thagla Ridge was also completed and huge quantities of military supplies found their way to the border.”

In the Western Sector, beside Aksai Chin Highway, Lanak La was connected to Kongka by roads. After the failure of official level talks, the Chinese opened new posts at Nyagzu and Dambuguru. In 1961 these posts were connected to Khurnak Fort and Kongka La by constructing a road. Another road connected Rudok with Spanggur was also completed. The Chinese also started construction work on three new roads in Ladakh. One from Samzungling along the Galwan river; another from Khurnak Fort to the vicinity of the Sirijap; and the third from Spanggur to Shinzang along the southern bank of Spanggur lake (Manekar 1968: 38, 41). Nyagzu and Dambuguru were converted into military bases in 1961.

By mid 1960, China established three regimental headquarters, one at Qizil Jilga, another near Lanak La and a third at Rudok. According to Mullik (1971: 313), the then Director of Indian Intelligence, by October 1961 China had established 61 new posts – seven in Ladakh, fourteen opposite the Central Sector, twelve facing Sikkim in the Chumbi Valley, three opposite Bhutan and twenty-five across NEFA border. According to Mullik, seven new roads constructed in the Indian territory were close to the Central Sector border and eight to the border in the Eastern Sector. China was seriously preparing for war; on the other hand India was clueless as regards how to calibrate its border policy, the response came in the form of ill fated ‘forward policy’.

RFI for the Basic Trainer Aircraft: New Ray of Hope for the Indian industry

March 19, 2014

With the Avro replacement programme of the Indian Air Force tragically consigned to the back burner, a new ray of hope has appeared for the Indian aerospace industry in the form of a Request for Information (RFI) for procurement of 106 PC-7 MK II Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) and associated equipment.

This is a ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ programme, which makes only the Indian companies eligible to respond to the RFI and subsequently compete for the contract, though it is not quite clear how multiple Indian companies will successfully woo the same OEM and seal separate arrangements to be able to participate in the tender.

Nevertheless, this pogramme is a clear indication of the MoD/IAF shedding reservations about the ability of the Indian companies to be the prime contractors in such programmes. It was because of this reservation that the Avro replacement programme was categorized as ‘Buy and Make’ and not as ‘Buy and Make (India)’, leaving it to the foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to select an Indian company as the production partner.

There is an on-going contract, signed in May 2012, with the OEM, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd of Switzerland, for the supply of 75 PC-7 Mk II BT aircraft. The Indian companies will have to supply the aircraft and the associated equipment in the same configuration/ specification. This programme seems to be free from the complexity of life-cycle costing, as was the case with the original BTA contract.

This should be exciting for the Indian companies, especially because the RFI does not contain many of the stringent conditions that were imposed in the Avro replacement programme for selection of the Indian Production Partner (IPP) by the OEM. According to those conditions only public limited engineering companies with an established track record in manufacturing , CRISIL/ICRA “A” credit rating and registered in India for at least ten years can be selected as IPP, provided they do not have foreign direct investment (FDI) exceeding 26 per cent. They are also required to have capital assets of not less than INR 100 crore, a turnover of not less than INR 1,000 crore for the last three years and a profitable financial record showing profit in at least during 3 of the previous 5 years with no accumulated losses.

The companies from whom response has been sought for the BTA programme have been spared these stringent conditions. The RFI simply says the proposal is sought from Indian vendors, including an Indian company forming a Joint Venture or establishing production arrangement with the OEM. Therefore, the only condition the vendors will have to comply with is the sectoral cap of 26 per cent on FDI. The current FDI policy also requires such companies to be ‘owned and controlled’ by resident Indian citizens and the Indian companies, which, in turn, are owned and controlled by the resident Indian citizens. This is a refreshing change in thinking, though one cannot help wonder why the aforesaid stringent conditions were stipulated in the Avro replacement programme.

Khobragade Episode Was Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back

MARCH 20, 2014


The Khobragade episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it was not the precipitant that unraveled the U.S.-India relationship.

The bitterness in India-U.S. ties is a result of dampening enthusiasm about India following the slowdown in Asia’s third largest economy, said Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defence and Asian strategic issues. Tellis, who was born in Mumbai and studied at St. Xavier’s College in the city before moving to Chicago for his PhD, worked for the U.S. Foreign Service, and as a senior adviser to the undersecretary of state for political affairs. He has worked closely with the Indian government in negotiating the civilian nuclear agreement between India and the U.S. Tellis, who is coediting a book detailing the agenda for the next government in India, Getting India Back on Track: An Action Agenda for Reform, spoke in an interview about US-India ties and Manmohan Singh’s legacy, on a visit to Mumbai. Edited excerpts: 



 This episode showed that despite the transformation of relations between the two countries, that transformation is still fragile—it does not have deep roots as yet. One reason for the fragility is that the transformation was driven primarily by far-sighted leaders on both sides in a top-down manner. There was no transformation at the popular level—at least not yet. The second reason is that the burdens of history have not yet been erased. There are many people in India who still remember the United States as being unsympathetic and unhelpful for many decades.

In my own view, the Khobragade episode was needless. The events leading up to the crisis should have provided reasons for both sides to act cooperatively, not to let relations sour. If everyone had done their jobs, both on the Indian and the U.S. side, this problem could have been handled with a great deal of discretion. The fact that it came to a point where prosecution became inevitable meant that we had dropped the ball. Both sides dropped the ball—including the US state department, which is usually a model of tact and efficiency. 


There are three key things we need to do. First, we need to settle this silly spat over the Khobragade issue, not because it has strategic significance, but because it affects the key players responsible for taking the relationship forward: the ministry of external affairs in India and the state department in the US. If these entities are not enthused about the relationship, there is nothing you can do to move forward. 

America's Hip-Hop Foreign Policy

How rap became a battleground in the war on terror

MAR 20 2014

A rapper performs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012. (U.S. Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

For several years now, American and German officials have struggled with how best to respond to Deso Dogg. The Ghanaian-German artist, whose legal name is Denis Cuspert, gained popularity during the mid-2000s as a pioneer in Germany’s gangsta-rap scene, performing with DMX and recording tracks like “Gangxtaboggy,” “Daz Iz Ein Drive By,” and “Meine Ambition Als Ridah.” In 2010, following a car crash, he embraced Islam and began documenting his Malcolm X-like transformation—from a life of women and bling to the “straight path”—in lyrics and music videos. Soon enough, he left hip-hop altogether and became a Salafi named Abu Maleek, embracing an ultra-conservative strain of Sunni Islam that frowns upon music and the use of instruments. He began describing his hometown of Berlin as a kuffar metropole (infidel metropolis). Instead of rap, he started composing and performing a cappella nasheeds, or devotional chants.

The hip-hopper-turned-Salafi evangelist or a cappella preacher is not an unusual figure in Muslim youth culture today: Napoleon of Tupac’s Outlawz, Loon of Bad Boy Records, and Sean Cross of Ruff Ryders Entertainment have all recently found God, quit rap, and toured European and Muslim-majority states speaking out against hip-hop culture. Their sermons and poems tend to be apolitical, focusing on atonement and self-improvement. How should U.S. officials deal with jihadi rap? The answer appears to be broadcasting “good Muslim hip-hop.”

Deso Dogg, however, went in a different direction. In his nasheeds, he excoriated U.S. foreign policy and expressed support for insurgents in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. German officials even sought to arrest him for a song that allegedly inspired a 21-year-old Kosovar to fire at a busload of American servicemen in Frankfurt in March 2011. And then Deso took his own advice and went off to Syria to fight the “apostate” regime. For much of 2013, the ex-rapper released a cappella songs against the Assad government, and postedphotos online of him splashing around in creeks and playing with a rocket launcher. But last November, a video posted to a German Islamist website appeared to show Deso Dogg unconscious on a stretcher, his shirt caked in blood and his lifeless, bearded face framed by a white cloth (an image strikingly reminiscent of the photograph taken of Malcolm X before his burial in February 1965). A man in the video pumps Deso’s heart desperately, in an effort to revive him.


March 21, 2014 

The ongoing presence of ISAF troops is now of little consequence to the people of southern Afghanistan. Their fate was decided in 2011, writes Christopher Johnston.

The withdrawal of coalition soldiers from southern Afghanistan has been marked by silence, spreading almost imperceptibly below the Hindu Kush. Most International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops have alreadyleft or withdrawn “behind the wire.” making it difficult to measure the unfolding violence, let alone stop it. While the 2009 surge shifted tactical momentum against the insurgency, forecasting its ultimate conclusion meant the strategic contest was lost. Once the pre-ordained drawdown commenced in 2011 the Taliban shifted their primary focus away from coalition forces to erode the remnants of Afghan central government.

This ferocious campaign continues. Attacks against coalition forces have diminished, and will continue to decrease as operational risk is reduced. But the governors of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, and other provinceshave been repeatedly targeted for assassination, along with less prominent, more vulnerable government functionaries. A small legion of suicide bombers and Taliban fighters have executed increasingly complex attacks, mostly repelled by Afghan and coalition forces. This was notably demonstrated in July 2011, when suicide bombers and armed insurgents launched an unprecedented assault on the governor’s compound and other government installations in Tarin Kot.

This attack was successfully repelled by Afghan and coalition troops. But even if a status of forces agreement is concluded, the ISAF rump left in Kandahar will not be equipped to stop such violence. Once indigenous security eventually falters most district and provincial governors will becoerced or killed, as in Logar last October, and Jalalabad last week. Others will simply vanish, or join an exodus of “collaborators.”

No coalition officer is likely to venture too far from Kandahar to determine the fate of provincial or district governance. ISAF might never even hear about it. Communication between agencies in Kabul and the southern provinces is as tenuous as the link between coalition and Afghan troops: usually reliant on cellphones.

Chinese Grip on Tibet, Buddhists

By Jayadeva Ranade
20th March 2014

After a hiatus of many months, there are indications to suggest that Beijing could be contemplating some initiative on the Tibet issue. These could comprise overtures to the Dalai Lama’s establishment in Dharamsala in conjunction with the ongoing efforts to acquire and consolidate influence among Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal and the Indo-Himalayan border belt, and efforts to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) grip on the troubled Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas in adjoining provinces.

Reports indicate channels have been activated between Beijing and the Tibetan establishment in Dharamsala. At least three were active in the past few months. One was direct, one was via Taiwan and the third, which was finally aborted, was through a South East Asian capital.

The CCP leadership under Xi Jinping also continues to accord priority to the Tibet issue. Interesting was the 7,500-word article written by Xi Jinping’s mother Qi Xin on the occasion of the birth centennial of Xi Jinping’s father and former Chinese Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun. Publicised by Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth Daily) and the official People’s Daily on November 6, 2013, just prior to the Third Party Plenum, Qi Xin’s article was laced with subtle references suggesting Buddhism’s influence on Xi Jinping’s family. The Third Party Plenum, incidentally, saw the further accretion of authority by Xi Jinping, who will head the newly created apex security organisation—the National Security Committee (NSC). There is speculation in Beijing that the NSC could usurp the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)’s jurisdiction over the Tibet issue.

Internal intellectual debate on the issue is also discernible. Wang Lixiong, the Han Chinese husband of well-known Beijing-based Tibetan blogger Woeser, commented on an article by Liu Junning published in the Chinese edition of the Wall Street Journal on March 4, 2014. In his article entitled Rethinking the Policy of Regional Nationality Autonomy in Light of the Kunming Incident, Liu Junning, a researcher at the Institute of Chinese Culture, a subsidiary of China’s ministry of culture, blamed China’s worsening nationality problem on the disparate treatment of the minorities. He said regional nationality autonomy and demarcations between nationalities had resulted in their estrangement. Earlier, Ma Rong, a Chinese scholar of the department of sociology, Peking University, had urged the elimination of regional nationality autonomy and distinctions between nationalities. Describing these as “root causes” for the “escalation in nationality enmity and conflict”, Wang Lixiong argued that special safeguards for minority nationalities cannot be disregarded. Citing differences in their characters, he said “the character of the Han is to pursue profits first, while Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols are more inclined to pursue religious beliefs and happiness. This doesn’t allow them to mix well in the big market economy pot with over a billion Han; it’s like forcing monks to fight with soldiers”. Recommending immigration controls, safeguarding the environment, continuing cultural traditions and safeguarding religious beliefs, Wang Lixiong asserted that without the protection of regional nationality autonomy “any one of China’s nationalities would be hard pressed to avoid being wiped away without a trace by the Han who outnumber them by a hundred thousand to one”.

CHINA: Confused Approach to Minority Issues

By Bhaskar Roy

The recent (March 01) attack by eight Uighurs including two women at the Kunming railway station killing thirty people and injuring many more may suggest that the tactics of the Uighur separatists in the western region of Xinjiang may be changing.

The Chinese police killed four of the attackers immediately, and has one in custody. Following the attack, leader of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) Abdullah Mansuar, declared that this was a war against the Chinese by all Muslims and the fight will continue. Mansuar lives in the mountains of Pakistan bordering China. The Uighurs demand independence for Xinjiang which they call Eastern Turkestan.

On the other hand, more than 127 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay persons have committed suicide in Tibetan areas in China since 2011, demanding independence from China and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. The suicides have been singularly self-immolation making the act striking, catching international attention and putting pressure on the Chinese government.

China has 55 ethnic groups, the largest being Uighurs (10 million) and second largest being Tibetans (six million). The third largest are the Mongolians in Inner Mongolia in the north of the country bordering the independent state of Mongolia. The rest of the minorities have very small populations or are vanishing tribes. The huge Han Chinese population accounts for about 94% in this country of 1.3 billion.

China claims that both Xinjiang and Tibet were historically Chinese territory, but these claims are highly questionable. At the same time the international community have agreed that whether historical or not, Beijing exercises sovereignty over these areas; it is a fait accompli. 

What the international community especially the west demands is a certain amount of autonomy for the Uighurs and Tibetans within Chinese rule. The autonomy is to allow freedom to practise their religion, use their language, and uphold their culture and traditions. The constitution of China promises autonomy to major minorities, but in practice they have less freedom than the Han Chinese. A privilege allowed to minorities is the freedom to have more than one child.

China claims to have “liberated” Xinjiang in 1949 and Tibet in 1951. To the ethnic people of these two regions the word “liberated” has a different meaning. Certainly, the Chinese brought economic development to the minority regions, but research by Chinese NGOs have revealed the benefits go mainly to the Han population who are being increasingly brought into these regions for demographic assault and domination. Simultaneously, the entire identity of the minorities are being erased save for those required to be showcased. The process is gradual but definite.

Trust deficit between the two major minorities and the Chinese authorities have increased. The Chinese failed to honour their promises and commitment. The 18 point agreement with the Dalai Lama was dishonoured leading to the Tibetan uprising and flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. The Chinese policy continued to marginalize the minorities, leading to greater alienation between the two sides.

In India, which is a multilingual and multi-ethnic country with common interests and aspirations where ethnic alienation and independence are not only alien ideas, but unthinkable, separatist movements in Nagaland, Assam and some others states were promoted by foreign countries. These movements have almost died down because of non-response from their brethren. In China, the situation is quite different. There is a huge Han majority and minorities are seen at best as irritations that have to be tolerated.

China at your doorstep: Looking east from India’s northeast

March 18, 2014

Myanmar is an important neighbour country of India. It has a 1, 643 land border with India and is emerging as the gateway for India to other Southeast Asian countries. This land linkage will prove instrumental in opening up space for India’s under-developed Northeastern region. In the sidelines of the third Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit held at Nay Pyi Taw from March 1 to March 4, Myanmar’s President, U. Thein Sein reassured India that Myanmar will not let its territory be used by insurgent groups from the Northeast against India. While Myanmar and India have followed their separate political paths since independence, ties between the two countries are fast converging in recent times. In the meantime, Myanmar’s other neighbour China has had a large footprint in the country. India has to calibrate its engagement with Myanmar to not just effectively implement its Look East policy but also manage the contiguous border regions of Northeast India given the ground realities. Especially the large region of North Myanmar flanked by Indian and Chinese borders, calls for close co-operation amongst stakeholders for peace, progress and prosperity of the trans-border region in a secure environment.

China’s footprint

There are two broad assets that Myanmar has, which are of interest to the Chinese – access to the Indian Ocean and rich natural resources.1 Myanmar and China share over 2000 km of mountainous border and a complex earlier history of conflict. Both countries refer to their relationship as “fraternal kinsfolk’ or Pauk Phaw in Burmese. Since 1988, China has made huge investments in Myanmar with more than half of it in hydropower dam projects especially for export to the Chinese province of Yunnan across the border.2

In North Myanmar’s Kachin State, there are two big Chinese investments: the Myitsone confluence hydroelectric power plant project and the 2800 km pipeline project owned by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). 3 Both these deals were struck with the earlier military government, which received China’s political support and economic aid during International sanctions against Myanmar.4

Figure I - Chinese Projects Overview
Source: Namrata Goswami

Since a civilian government took over Myanmar in 2011, China’s investment projects have come under criticism.5 Public opinion in Myanmar objected to the construction of the Myitsone dam because of which the project was suspended by the government along with other projects such as the Letpadaung Copper Mine in Sagaing Division.6 In the period of 2012-13 there was a sharp drop in the flow of Chinese money into Myanmar as per the data from China’s Ministry of Commerce.7 Also China countered with harsh criticism of Myanmar’s escalating conflicts in Kachin state related to border security issues.8 There were no visits from Chinese leaders during the civilian government’s reform period.

With bearish Chinese investment in Myanmar other countries have picked up the pieces. Japan is renewing its investments in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) like Dawei, South Koreans are constructing airports, and Qatar and Norway are developing the telecom sector. 9

China’s Newest Maritime Dispute

China’s hardly in need of more territorial disputes with neighbors. Yet, it has started a new one with Indonesia.

March 20, 2014

China is hardly in need of additional territorial disputes these days, but it seems to have a new one on its hands.

Last week a senior Indonesian defense official announced that China’s new drawing of its nine-dash line includes waters that Jakarta claims as its own.

“China has claimed Natuna waters as their territorial waters. This arbitrary claim is related to the dispute over Spratly and Paracel Islands between China and the Philippines. This dispute will have a large impact on the security of Natuna waters,” assistant deputy to the chief security minister for defense strategic doctrine Commodore Fahru Zaini said, according to Indonesia’s official news agency, Antara.

The Natuna waters (named after the islands they border) are part of Riau Islands Province in Indonesia, located along the southern part of the strategic Strait of Malacca. They are part of the South China Sea. Fahru explained that a new map on Chinese passports encompasses part of the Natuna waters, raising the irk of Indonesian officials.

“What China has done is related to the territorial zone of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia. Therefore, we have come to Natuna to see the concrete strategy of the main component of our defense, namely the National Defense Forces (TNI),” Fahru, who was visiting the Riau Islands, added. He went on to complain that China’s nine-dash line isn’t transparent owing to the fact that it doesn’t include precise coordinates.

Interesting, as Scott Cheney-Peters notes over at the excellent Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) blog, just weeks before Fahru made the announcement about China’s encroachment, Indonesia had announced it was building up its naval, air and army forces on and around the Natuna Islands as a preemptive measurement against instability in the South China Sea.

MARCH 20, 2014


The decision not to bail Chaori out is not a true test of Beijing’s commitment to allow the “market to play a decisive role” in resource allocation as announced last year in the third plenum.

Whenever there is a sign of possible weakness in China’s financial armour there are voices that cry out that a crisis is brewing. The latest example is the recent default on a bond payment by Shanghai’s Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology. This quickly prompted questions about whether this was China’s “Bear Stearns or Lehman moment”. Less alarmist views welcomed the default as a signal that the government wanted to instil a sense of prudent risk-taking. 

Interpretations of Premier Li Keqiang’s statement that future defaults may be unavoidable also depended on one’s sentiments, with some seeing it as a sign of imminent problems and others dismissing it as an acknowledgment that defaults are part of every economy. 


 All this, however, may be missing the point.

Although Chaori is a landmark as the first onshore bond default, it tells us little about China’s financial risks. After all, the problems of Chaori, and the solar sector more generally, are well known and their implications have long been factored into market expectations. No one in China’s financial markets is surprised that Chaori could not pay: it was always a question of whether it would be bailed out. 

But the decision not to bail Chaori out is not a true test of Beijing’s commitment to allow the “market to play a decisive role” in resource allocation as announced last year in the third plenum. Chaori was an easy target as a relatively small private company in a major city that is not dependent on it for revenues or employment. Its bonds are held by retail investors with little clout. It is also in an industry with excess capacity that officials have earmarked for downsizing and consolidation. 

Contrast this with the pre-third plenum case of LDK Solar, a large private company that employed 20,000 workers and accounted for 12 per cent of the taxes for the city of Xinyu in Jiangxi province, central China. Like Chaori and other solar businesses, LDK had financial difficulties. But given its importance to Xinyu, the municipal authorities passed a resolution guaranteeing repayments of Rmb500m in loans. In that case being private was not a barrier to a bailout as the firm was too big to fail. Chaori does not tell us whether that has changed since the third plenum. 

From Transformation to Mediation: The Arab Spring Reframed

MARCH 20, 2014 


Politics in the Middle East are polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring’s citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are torn apart by bitter tensions.

Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring’s citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East’s future political trajectory.


The spirit of unity forged in the early days of the Arab Spring has faded and polarization has deepened across the Middle East. It has become apparent that many societies lack consensus on basic political rules of the game.

Nearly all Middle Eastern states have some form of national dialogue to help build consensus, and many international actors stress the need for an inclusive process of mutual compromise to lay the groundwork for political reform.

Strategic approaches to the Arab Spring need reframing to reflect the fact that the fate of political reform hinges upon successful consensus building and dialogue on political rules.

Admirably, the European Union (EU) has increased the emphasis on consensus building in its diplomatic efforts and its funding initiatives across the Middle East.

The necessary focus on mediation and dialogue must not supplant support for political reform. Reform and dialogue need to progress in parallel and be mutually reinforcing. 



National dialogues differ considerably across countries. They are all designed to foster agreement between a wide range of political actors on reform options, but their formats and remits vary significantly—as have their effects on political reform.

The way in which political reform and consensus building interact varies across countries. Inclusive dialogue can facilitate political reform, and in some countries it has been necessary to keep reform momentum on track. But in other countries, some degree of political reform is needed to level the playing field and establish conditions conducive to successful mediation.


March 21, 2014 ·

Legendary General James Mattis Explains What’s Happening In The Middle East Right Now

http://www.businessinsider. com/general-mattis-berkeley- middle-east-2014-3


MAR. 21, 2014, 5:59 AM 2,760 10

General James Mattis
Paul Szoldra/Business Insider

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BERKELEY, Calif. – Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who was responsible for overseeing 20 Middle Eastern countries as the former commander of Central Command, gave a series of lectures at the University of California-Berkeley this week.

In an insightful talk Wednesday evening, which focused on threats emanating from Iran, he offered up the “primary drivers” in the Middle East region, talking at length about threats to the U.S., countries that remain hostile, and the challenges that remain.

“Understanding and dealing with this region can be very, very frustrating. I’m the first to admit its halfway driven me to drink, to tell you the truth,” said Mattis, to some audience laughter.

On the Arab Spring:

“The most important pulse that’s sweeping through the region right now is the Arab Spring. In this regard, in my testimony on Capitol Hill, I often have to caution people who want to see it as a democratic revolution. You have to take this for what it is, not for what you want it to be.”

“What it is, I believe, is a flight from unjust, unresponsive governments, with a fundamental breakdown of the social contract between those governments and the people. It is not necessarily … a rush towards democracy, as much as you and I would like to see that, and as much as many millions of Arabs would like to see democracy.”

On Egypt:

If you want to know where the Arab Spring is going, Mattis said, “I would watch Egypt very, very closely … [but] we must also accept that there will be setbacks, such as when the democratically-elected Muslim brotherhood – they were elected – only to get thrown out a year later by a military that backed up the largest mass demonstration in history.”

“The military stepped in, took control of the situation, and did what I would call a military coup with the support of the Egyptian people … if you look at that and that setback that occurred at that moment, I would not exaggerate its impact. It’s a real problem – it threw them off their democratic trajectory, but if they get the process back quickly, then they can bring their democratic efforts back online.”

The new world order

The post-Soviet world order was far from perfect, but Vladimir Putin’s idea for replacing it is much worse

Mar 22nd 2014

“IN PEOPLE’S hearts and minds,” Vladimir Putin told Russia’s parliament this week, “Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia.” He annexed the peninsula with dazzling speed and efficiency, backed by a crushing majority in a referendum (see article). He calls it a victory for order and legitimacy and a blow against Western meddling.

The reality is that Mr Putin is a force for instability and strife. The founding act of his new order was to redraw a frontier using arguments that could be deployed to inflame territorial disputes in dozens of places around the world. Even if most Crimeans do want to join Russia, the referendum was a farce. Russia’s recent conduct is often framed narrowly as the start of a new cold war with America. In fact it poses a broader threat to countries everywhere because Mr Putin has driven a tank over the existing world order.

The embrace of the motherland

Foreign policy follows cycles. The Soviet collapse ushered in a decade of unchallenged supremacy for the United States and the aggressive assertion of American values. But, puffed up by the hubris of George Bush, this “unipolar world” choked in the dust of Iraq. Since then Barack Obama has tried to fashion a more collaborative approach, built on a belief that America can make common cause with other countries to confront shared problems and isolate wrongdoers. This has failed miserably in Syria but shown some signs of working with Iran. Even in its gentler form, it is American clout that keeps sea lanes open, borders respected and international law broadly observed. To that extent, the post-Soviet order has meaning.

Mr Putin is now destroying that. He dresses up his takeover of Crimea in the garb of international law, arguing for instance that the ousting of the government in Kiev means he is no longer bound by a treaty guaranteeing Ukraine’s borders that Russia signed in 1994, when Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons. But international law depends on governments inheriting the rights and duties of their predecessors. Similarly, he has invoked the principle that he must protect his “compatriots”—meaning anybody he chooses to define as Russian—wherever they are. Against all evidence, he has denied that the unbadged troops who took control of Crimea were Russian. That combination of protection and subterfuge is a formula for intervention in any country with a minority, not just a Russian one.

Chess Game over Crimea

March 20, 2014

Russia has won the chess game. President Putin played well. The other side consisting of the fledgling government in Kiev, President Obama, and the European Union could have played a better game. There was a significant failure on the part of Obama, his advisers such as Ambassador Samantha Power, the European Union, and the rest of the West in understanding the ground realities and grasping the big picture. For example, Obama and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seem to have believed that Russia was not serious about annexing Crimea and that by threatening dire consequences Putin could be made to change his course.

Part of the reason for West’s failure lies in their habit of ignoring history. The Russian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol was established by Prince Potemkin in 1783. This is the only warm water base that Russia has. The 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine divided the fleet between them, 81.7% for Russia and 18.3% for Ukraine; Russia was given the right to use the port of Sevastopol for 20 years. In 2009, Ukraine sent out signals that the treaty would not be extended when it expires in 2017. Finally, an agreement was made in 2010 to extend the treaty by 25 years in 2017 with a provision for an additional 5 years taking it to 2047.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West started to draw into NATO and EU the neighbours of Russia. For Russia, its security is threatened if there is no buffer between it and the West. That was the reason for the neutralization of Finland after World War 2. When Germany was united in 1990 there was an agreement among the four former occupying powers (US, USSR/RUSSIA, UK and France) that foreign troops (meaning NATO) would not be stationed in the former East Germany. This provision was later violated by NATO. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the US had the option to work with Russia to put an end to the mindless arms race. Instead, the US chose to extract concessions from a weak Russia and to surround it by expanding NATO eastward. Similarly, when the EU also expanded eastward, Russia felt threatened.

When Ukraine was about to sign an agreement with EU, Russia intervened, offered a loan of $15 billion to dissuade Kiev from going ahead with the agreement. President Yanukovych decided not to sign the agreement to which there was much opposition from eastern Ukraine, his political base. Encouraged by the EU and US, those Ukrainians who wanted to get closer to former started an agitation and about 80 were killed. There are reports that the pro-EU agitators were responsible for the killing in part at least. The EU sent a group of foreign ministers (France, Germany and Poland) to Kiev and an agreement was signed on February 21 for forming a new government, changing the constitution to reduce the powers of the president, and to advance the presidential election. There was an expectation that the crisis was resolved.

The day after the signing of the agreement President Yanukovych disappeared. To materialize, days later in Russia, the Parliament sacked the President and an interim government was put in place. The action by the Parliament was illegal and Putin is right in not recognizing the new government in Kiev. The procedure (article 111) for impeachment of the President was not followed. The first major error made by the West was in encouraging the pro-EU Ukrainians to walk out of the February 21 agreement to which Russia too was a party. Putin came to the conclusion that the West had a plan to take Ukraine into EU and later to NATO, affecting Russia’s security and its hold on Sevastopol.

Crimean crisis: A New Phase of Cold War?

March 21, 2014

The referendum in Crimea on 16th March gave a 97 percent support in favour of joining Russia. The Western countries have held the referendum to be illegal. Undeterred, on 19th March, Russia signed a treaty with Crimea formalising the incorporation thus reversing the 1954 transfer of Crimea to Ukraine.

These developments have escalated tensions between Russia and the West to a level not seen since 1991. Russia has been suspended from the G8. The US and EU have also imposed sanctions against a dozen or so Russian and Crimean officials banning their travel to Europe and the US freezing their assets. This is a symbolic reaction but a chill has descended over Russia-West relations. An alarmed Polish Foreign Minister has compared the Crimean episode to “Anschluss”, the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938. Many analysts in Russia and the West see the beginning of a new phase of Cold War between the two sides.

On 15th March, a day before the referendum, Russia vetoed an American draft resolution describing the referendum in Crimea to be illegal and violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. China was the sole country to abstain. Other members of the Security Council voted for the resolution. Although the resolution was not adopted, Russia seemed isolated in international community.

China’s abstention can be interpreted both ways. The West could see it as splitting between Russia and the China. The Russians see Chinese abstention as China not supporting the Western position. China has said it stands for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. Taiwan must be on China’s mind. China is being careful. It has sought to take a cautious stand by abstaining.

Russia has cited the interests of Russians in Crimea as a reason for its proactive action. This must be causing worries in other former soviet republics where substantial ethnic Russian populations still live. A Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry statement condemned "all acts aimed at destabilizing the situation in Ukraine" and called for "the early settlement of the situation in Ukraine by peaceful means, through negotiations and dialogue, in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter." Other Central Asian states have maintained silence indicating neutrality. These countries have substantial relationship with the West, China as well as Russia. Their caution is therefore understandable. On the Georgian issue in 2008, Russia was isolated in the CIS. No CIS country recognised the impendence of Abkhazia or Ossetia. Russia has always regarded Ukraine as crucial to it economic reintegration in CIS. That project has now suffered a serious set back.

The Crimean crisis began when President Yanukovitch was toppled in an illegal coup staged by ultra nationalists in Ukraine in February. Yanukovitch fled to Russia. The coup created a power vacuum in the country. Russia regards the present government in Ukraine as therefore illegal. The West is pouring in money to bolster the present government in Ukraine.

Russia-West relations have been tense since the Georgian crisis in 2008. President Obama’s effort to “reset” the US-Russia relations in 2010 has not succeeded. The Crimean crisis is far more serious than the Georgia issue. The Russian-West fault line runs through Ukraine. Russia has made it clear that it will not accept Western meddling in Ukraine.

Ukraine Fallout: Putin Hands The Pentagon A Rationale For New Nuclear Weapons


There’s a plausible case to be made that Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea after 60 years of being attached to the Ukraine isn’t all that important, and the West is over-reacting. Well don’t expect to find anybody in Washington pushing that view. Today’s Washington Post features a lead editorial entitled, “A Dangerous Russian Doctrine,” and all four essays on the op-ed page explore the ominous implications of what Vladimir Putin has done. The persistent drumbeat of disquieting coverage and commentary about Ukraine reminds me of a term I used often when I taught nuclear strategy at Georgetown — overkill.

The North Atlantic Alliance isn’t likely to do anything direct or meaningful about Putin’s fait accompli, but the wheels are already turning within defense ministries and military think tanks about what indirect steps might be taken to deter further adventurism by Moscow. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this debate will end up in Washington: the delicate balance of terror — the nuclear balance — is back on the table as an active concern. Why? Because the White House was already reorienting (no pun intended) America’s military posture to East Asia, where both of our prospective adversaries possess atomic weapons, and now the world’s other nuclear superpower, Russia, has muscled its way back into U.S. military calculations.

As chance would have it, this strategic shift occurs at precisely the moment when modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has become a major issue among military planners. Washington hasn’t done much to renew its deterrent since the Cold War ended a quarter-century ago. Plans to build 132 stealthy B-2 bombers capable of chasing down Russian mobile launchers in a nuclear war were pared to a mere 20 planes when the Berlin Wall fell, the number of ballistic-missile submarines has been reduced, and so has the number of Minuteman III ballistic missiles sitting in silos across the upper Midwest. The Obama Administration has not built a single new nuclear warhead since it entered office, and has retired more warheads than China has in its entire arsenal.

The U.S. can’t stay on this vector indefinitely without seeing its deterrent whither, because most of the nuclear bombers were built during the Kennedy Administration, the subs are due to start retiring around 2027, and the Minuteman missiles aren’t certified for operation beyond 2030. And then there’s the fact that tritium, the hydrogen isotope that boosts fission reactions to thermonuclear scale, has a radioactive half-life of only a dozen years (unlike plutonium, which pretty much lasts forever). The Pentagon has plans for developing new subs and bombers before the current arsenal has to be retired, but funding is problematic — particularly with spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Although President Obama has not interfered with these plans, he has been more focused on arms control as a solution to the nation’s nuclear security. Obama first began advocating a world free of nuclear weapons when he was in college, and he carried that theme into his presidency. An arms agreement concluded during his first term would reduce the number of strategic warheads — warheads readily deliverable over long distances — to 1,550 by 2018, and he subsequently elicited support from the military for a further reduction to 1,000 warheads. The administration’s 2010 nuclear posture review called for reducing reliance on such weapons and endorsed “a multilateral effort to limit, reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide.”

With the U.S. facing nuclear-equipped rivals in Asia and Europe, the delicate balance of terror — the nuclear balance — has reentered U.S. strategic calculations. (Photo credit: The Official CTBTO Photostream)

However, the same posture review stated that Washington needed to “strengthen deterrence of regional aggression and reassure allies and partners of U.S. commitment to their defense.” That goal looks a bit more demanding now that Moscow has accomplished the first forcible change in European borders since World War Two, and it is inevitable that Pentagon officials will use the Ukraine crisis to build political support for their nuclear plans. Providing better air and missile defenses for Eastern European partners is a start, but when it comes to deterring nuclear attack, there is no substitute for possessing a secure capacity to respond in kind. Survivable second-strike forces have been the centerpiece of U.S. nuclear strategy since the 1950s.

The Post-Russian World Order

Giles Merritt is Editor of Europe's World and heads the Brussels-based think tanks Friends of Europe and Security & Defense Agenda. 

MAR 19, 2014 6

BRUSSELS – Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the ensuing Crimea crisis is wrongly seen as the start of Cold War II. But, while the fallout from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defiance of international law and public opinion will be very different from that of the Soviet Union’s long campaign to defeat capitalism, the geopolitical ripple effects are certain to be just as far-reaching, if not more so.

Russia is set to sideline itself from the global economy, and by doing so it will usher in a new era in international relations. International sanctions will be only the first consequence. Markets and banks penalize uncertainty, so the Russian economy will progressively be cut off from international trade and investment and consigned to a future of slow or no growth.

That is Russia’s own funeral, of course. The wider consequences will be a shake-up of international politics and of governments’ attempts to address common problems, ranging from global governance to climate change. The result may even be positive, with events in Ukraine unexpectedly opening the way to a significant realignment of fast-emerging countries whose twenty-first-century roles will be decisive.

The first result of the West’s standoff with Russia is that it spells the end of the BRICS. For a decade or more, the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and recently South Africa has been a major feature of world politics, challenging the might and influence of industrialized Europe and America. But, with Russia set to become a pariah, either pushed out of or withdrawing from global markets and multilateral forums, the days of BRICS summits and institutions, such as the group’s embryonic development bank, appear to be numbered.

The BRICS may not be formally dissolved, but it is hard to imagine that the other four members would be willing to place their own positions in a globalized economy at risk by being drawn into Russia’s quarrel with the world. Bit by bit, the idea that the group represents a coherent voice in world affairs will be quietly buried.

A maverick Russia, bent on pursuing assertive foreign policies and creating a “Eurasian Union” trade bloc, poses obvious dangers. The more important outcome, though, will be how Russia’s former BRICS partners realign with other major emerging economies in the G-20.

How to Stop Putin in His Tracks

He knows he’s weak. The West must show we know it, too.

Vladimir Putin attends the closing ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi on March 16, 2014. Despite his very public perch, Putin is not as powerful as he wants the world to believe.

Photo by Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

Is the crisis in Ukraine almost over or just beginning? The answer depends on what Vladimir Putin really wants and what the West does next.FRED KAPLAN

Fred Kaplan is the author ofThe Insurgents and the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Did Putin want nothing more than to seize Crimea, to turn Russia’s control of the republic from de facto to de jure—or does he want to creep deeper into southern and eastern Ukraine on the pretext of “fraternal assistance” to ethnic Russians?

Either way, two things should be understood. First, Putin’s actions have been driven less by a belief that the West is weak than his knowledge that Russia is. Second, he dreams of restoring Russia’s empire—his March 18 Kremlin speech is, at heart, a cry of resentment against the West for its humiliation of his country during the early years after the Soviet Union’s collapse. A bitter autocrat with a head full of grandiose daydreams can be a dangerous creature.

This crisis began, after all, when Putin took notice that Ukraine—which he and every other Russian leader in history have regarded as deeply tied to Russia—was drifting into the West’s orbit. Then-President Viktor Yanukovych had taken steps toward an affiliation with the European Union. Putin feared, correctly, that this development could wreck his plans for a “Eurasian Union” (which he saw as the basis for a revived Russian empire), and so he offered Yanukovych $15 billion in exchange for backing out of the Western league. Yanukovych took the bribe. Demonstrations broke out in Kiev, prompting crackdowns, prompting a widening of the protests … and the rest, we all know.

Lawrence Freedman, the pre-eminent scholar of strategy, has a long blog post in Wednesday’s War on the Rocks, noting that the “basic challenge of crisis management is to protect core interests while avoiding major war.” Part of this challenge, he adds, involves “a sense of knowing when to exercise restraints and respect limits,” as well as “a grasp of what the adversary needs to enable it to de-escalate or at least to desist from further escalation.”