28 April 2014

The Russian Snake

As far as Moscow is concerned, using cyber as a warlike offensive tool is the normative first step in a general attack. After Estonia and Georgia, the Ukraine now experiences it first hand

The prevailing view in the West is that Russia possesses cutting-edge information warfare and electronic warfare capabilities. Experience has shown that Russia does not hesitate to put these capabilities to use as required. 

As far back as 2007, during the confrontation between Russia and Estonia whose trigger was the relocating of the Unknown Soldier Monument from the center of Tallinn, the Estonian capital, to the outskirts, Russian elements staged a substantial DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack against Estonia. The actual involvement of the Russian government in this conflict, named by some parties (who went just a little too far) “The First Cyber War”, remains unclear. 

The attack against Estonia was a small but sufficient example of the axiom according to which in the era of information it is safe to assume that any military confrontation or political tension will include offensive cybernetic elements: damaging or disrupting of information systems or damaging of critical infrastructure/utility systems and processes through the computers controlling them. That was the case during the South Ossetia war in 2008, when Russian and Georgian forces clashed under controversial circumstances. During that conflict, too, pro-Russian cybernetic attacks staged by “unknown sources” disrupted on-line services and websites of the Georgian government as well as the media and banks. A DDoS attack was even staged against Internet services in Georgia generally. At the time, Georgian sources reported that the civilian cellular communication systems and the communication system of the Georgian Army were attacked as well. The use of cyberspace against Georgia had several objectives such as collection of intelligence and disruption of vital processes, but information warfare was also one of those objectives. 

Should we review India’s Nuclear Doctrine?

For India it is wiser to retain nuclear weapons for “deterrence only” because of the manifold and futile increase in risks involved in adopting any more aggressive option for their use
Sheel Kant Sharma

In September 2013, India conducted a second test flight of its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Agni-V long-range ballistic missile, which has a strike range of 5,000 km, from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast. The three-stage, solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the complex 4 of the Integrated Test Range. PTI

A file photo of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 25, 2014, in which India participated. AFP

THE purpose behind India’s nuclear tests in 1998 was to demonstrate weapons capability and to remove any doubts about its determination to be a state armed with nuclear weapons. Attempts persisted even after 1998 to compel or persuade the government in New Delhi to roll back and to accept several restraints as a non-nuclear weapon state. The document brought out in August 1999, therefore, was yet another definitive step to assert India’s status without ambiguity. This was in the form of the Draft Report of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) on “Indian Nuclear Doctrine”. It articulated, in some detail, the considerations of the eminent strategic thinkers who formed the NSAB at that time. This was followed up, as is well known, by a brief Press Release in January 2003, entitled, “The Cabinet Committee on Security Reviews Operationalization of India’s Nuclear Doctrine,” which contained an official and concise statement of the Doctrine. This put an official imprimatur on the NSAB document.

Present context

Since it was the BJP-led NDA government that took the actions described in previous paragraph it is important to recall this background in the present context. The BJP in its manifesto promises to

“Study in detail India's nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times.”

One must see this promise in the manifesto in terms of the language used in the two existing documents. The word “review” in the title of 2003 Press Release can be traced to a process described in the 1999 document in the following terms:

“This document outlines the broad principles for the development, deployment and employment of India's nuclear forces. Details of policy and strategy concerning force structures, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will flow from this framework and will be laid down separately and kept under constant review.”( para. 1.6).

CHAIR BY ACCIDENT - A prime minister who did his best in an impossible situation

Commentarao: S.L. Rao 

“Betrayal of trust”, “stab in the back”, “neither God nor an Oracle” and “suspicious timing” were only some of the phrases thrown by Congressmen at Sanjaya Baru for his book,The Accidental Prime Minister. The immediacy of the epithets demonstrates the overwhelming power of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, over her party and the United Progressive Alliance government. Baru has responded with dignity.

Unlike in other countries, departing Indian government officials have not usually written about their experiences in the administration. In other countries, they keep detailed diaries, copy important documents, and release their book as soon as they can, preferably while their boss is still in office. Most of our ministers live for the present, and are neither concerned with lessons for the future from history, nor can they write. Our bureaucrats follow the mafia principle of omertà or a code of silence. Baru is an economic researcher, strategic thinker and journalist. Presumably in order to stay away from the stringent secrecy rules, he kept few notes, did not use any documents of government, wrote from memory supported by some notes, and cross-checked dates and events through media archives. The accusation that the book was deliberately released before a major election has two aspects. It would lead to publicity and record sales, and would fuel the campaign of the Opposition parties. The book is indeed a best-seller. One writes to be read by as many as possible. That the Opposition would make use of the book was inevitable. Baru had understood that the book would be released after the elections.

This is a timely book. It restores some part of the severely damaged reputation of Manmohan Singh, and the charge that he was ineffective. It helps us understand why he could not discipline his ministers even when they were robbing the country or when they made comments that were contrary to his stated policies. It shows that he was a true servant of the Congress president, one who allowed his views to be overridden by Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi gave the prime ministership to Manmohan Singh, but not the power and authority to make policy or appoint ministers and top bureaucrats, or to discipline them. She may even have violated the law by being shown government files meant for the prime minister and commenting on them. The book confirms that Singh lacks social and networking skills, and is a buttoned-up person who does not respond to criticism.

Released as he nears the end of his office, the book demonstrates with many examples the prime minister’s grasp of complex issues, and his attempts to carry people and parties with him. It emphasizes that the political authority lay with the Congress chief. Ministerial appointments were at her behest, while coalition-party chiefs nominated their quota of ministers. The prime minister had to agree. Appointments to key bureaucratic posts in the prime minister’s office, or of the national security advisor, followed this rule. Ministers took instructions from Sonia Gandhi. Her emphasis was on loyalty to the Family, not on expertise or administrative competence. This led to the deterioration in many ministries and large-scale theft by ministers.

Manmohan Singh had an impoverished and deprived childhood. His intellect, many scholarships and energy propelled him upwards. Contrary to general belief, he was always for a more open economy, demonstrated by his PhD thesis on India’s export pessimism. His stint as secretary-general of the South Commission convinced him of the need to liberalize controls. He succeeded in putting India on a growth path, and not just as a technician implementing P.V. Narasimha Rao’s vision. He prepared himself like a student to deal with complex issues like the nuclear agreement with the United States of America.

He was the prime minister of a government of coalition parties, and not just the Congress. His political skills were as good as demonstrated by his negotiating, at Sonia Gandhi’s behest, an alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, accused of complicity in Rajiv Gandhi’s murder, and with which the Family did not want to negotiate. He saw it as his duty to keep the coalition partners informed of major decisions. He maintained good relations with leaders of all his coalition partners. Sharad Pawar and Lalu Prasad were his strongest supporters on difficult policy issues. They backed him when some in the Congress wanted to replace him.

Baru says that major decisions were taken by Sonia Gandhi, including ministerial appointments and allotment of portfolios. Incompetent ministers in the important ministries of home and defence (Shivraj Patil, Sushil Kumar Shinde and A.K. Antony) damaged the law and order situation and did not deal well with insurgencies. Defence has suffered under Antony as minister, and the modernization of the armed forces has been postponed. Telecommunications, coal, railways and environment became market places for the accumulation of wealth by some ministers.

Since ministers or their portfolios were not his decisions, he only took full responsibility for his own probity and that of his immediate family — not of his ministers. They were the responsibility of the Congress or the coalition parties who appointed them. The many scams in the 10 years of the UPA were owing to the prime minister and party chiefs not watching over straying ministers and disciplining them.

In his first public address in 2004, Manmohan Singh emphasized the need for administrative reform for effective and clean governance. His diffidence about his authority over ministers prevented administrative reform. His innovation of appointing groups of ministers to debate and advise on important policies was effective in developing policies after considerable examination. His initiative to empower many of them diluted the final authority of the prime minister. So did the proliferation of the GOMs — from 50 in 2007 to many more. He quoted the maxim of “never yielding space” in government, but the GOMs led to his abandoning a lot of his turf.

Other “accidental” prime ministers — Charan Singh, Chandra Sekhar, H.D. Deve Gowda and Inder Gujral — served for short periods and none for more than a year. Manmohan Singh has had a 10-year term. But as Sonia Gandhi’s servant, he conceded all political authority to her. Many times, this led to the wrong appointment of ministers and bureaucrats, or to policies that he did not favour, but he accepted all this without demur.

He was uncomfortable in addressing audiences or the media. He did not take responsibility for crooked or incompetent ministers because he did not appoint them. He was seen to tolerate massive scams by many of them. He initiated the writing-off of farmers’ loans worth Rs 7,2000 crore during UPA I, and did not protest against the massive social expenditures that the party president thrust on the government. This was the man who, as finance minister, had stabilized the fisc. He must have realized the consequences of continuing high deficits and high inflation, declining savings and investment and no employment growth. The Congress may lose the elections besides causing untold misery to millions.

Manmohan Singh was a better prime minister than Sonia Gandhi could ever have been. She has no knowledge of concepts, of the complexity of India, nor the education or experience of governance. Manmohan Singh was highly qualified for the job, but his personality was not. While he projects a learned and clean image abroad, in India he is uncommunicative and cold. He did preside over many years of high growth. In spite of depicting gently Manmohan Singh’s shyness, inarticulateness, and discomfort with confrontations, Baru succeeds to some extent in rehabilitating Manmohan Singh’s image. He was a very qualified man, an honest prime minister, who accepted an impossible situation.

What the book does not say is why Singh stayed on as prime minister for 10 years when he was not able to lead his government. What prevented him after being responsible, as Baru says, for the big win in 2009, from putting Sonia Gandhi in her place, or resigning? History will judge him a weak man who should not have been prime minister. Baru’s book fails to convincingly show this conclusion to be wrong.

The build-up to flashpoint

Inder Malhotra | April 27, 2014

On the night of November 21, a Pakistani infantry brigade, supported by artillery and air force, had launched a major attack on a Mukti Bahini baseat Belonia, on the border.

How the London ‘Times’ jumped the gun in announcing the beginning of the Bangladesh war . 

By the time Indira Gandhi finished her extensive tour abroad, everybody knew that the war for the liberation of Bangladesh was inevitable. The question no longer was whether it would take place, but when. Indeed, the prime minister herself had declared at a meeting of the India League during her visit to London: “I am sitting on top of a volcano and I honestly do not know when it is gong to erupt.” By the beginning of November, however, it seemed that the flashpoint was near.

On the one hand, General Yahya Khan and his cohorts — with the full cooperation of religious parties and, even more importantly, of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the founder-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party — were building up war psychosis in West Pakistan. On the other, the savagery of the Pakistan army in Bangladesh had exceeded all limits. For its part, the 100,000-strong Mukti Bahini — with some Indian backing, which meant that a number of Indian armed personnel in mufti were advising and otherwise helping it — was fighting the army of occupation as best it could. However, given the Pakistan army’s “hot pursuit” of “East Bengali guerrillas”, to allow such a situation to last indefinitely would obviously have been an invitation to disaster.

In the midst of this ominous situation, I was suddenly faced with a professional dilemma. I venture to mention it only because it has relevance to the story of the 1971 war. For an urgent assignment I had to be in London in mid-November. At the same time, I was determined not to be away from the country on D-Day. I was then living in Bombay (now Mumbai), working for The Times of India. I rushed to New Delhi to seek advice from the three service chiefs as well as the civilians with a major say in policy. More by innuendo than explicitly, they told me that I could go abroad on November 12 but should be back before the month’s end.

Imagine my shock and surprise, therefore, when I picked up my copy of The Times (London) on the morning of November 22 and saw the story under a huge headline that the long-expected war between India and Pakistan had begun. Despite the early hour, I rang up the Indian high commissioner, who informed me that he had just finished remonstrating with the paper’s editor for publishing news that was “absolutely false”. What exactly had happened became known fairly soon.

In the cross hairs of the extremists

Published: April 28, 2014
Yasser Latif Hamdani

The doublespeak among Pakistan’s middle class is pushing the country backwards. But there is still hope

The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah never claimed that all Muslims were a nation. He said that only for Muslims in undivided India who he felt constituted a nation within the subcontinent and were therefore entitled to an equal say in the Constitution-making regardless of their numbers. He made it clear when he said that Muslims had demanded self-determination on the basis of India for Indians and that Muslims were Indians. In other words, their claim to the right of self-determination was based on the principle that Muslims were the sons and daughters of India and not outside its milieu.

When Jinnah termed Indian Muslims as a nation, it was consociationalism that served as a counter to the Congress party’s claim to speak for all Indians. Jinnah pointed toward — and he was not the first — the superficiality of the Hindu-Muslim interaction. Regrettably for Jinnah, Hindus and Muslims had failed to forge a common Indian identity on a mass level and instead had formed communal identities that had been rendered non-negotiable by the Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements. The former ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity argued therefore that Hindu-Muslim interaction had been limited to the educated upper classes, and while Hindus and Muslims lived together, they did so in silos.

The decline of Jinnah’s postulates

When Jinnah proposed Pakistan, whether independent or within an Indian union, he maintained that it would have almost equal numbers of non-Muslims in it. In any event, Jinnah’s conception of citizenship, whether in India or in Pakistan was completely secular; he stood for equal citizenship for all people regardless of their religious or cultural identities. Pakistan as a state, in his view, could only be based on a social contract between the state and the people regardless of what religion they followed. In due course he expected, perhaps naively, that Hindus and Muslims would forge new secular identities on both sides of the border. Even in India that has not come to pass and is not likely to happen unless and until India faithfully follows its constitutional directive and implements a uniform civil code for all people of India — a move that ironically is resisted by front-rank secularists in India. In many ways, by keeping the magnificent, secular Constitution of India hostage to the Muslim minority’s special status, as was evident in the aftermath of the Shah Bano case, India has squandered the one major benefit of Partition.

Being a national security state

April 26, 2014

If you’re going to be a national security state, you have to do it better. You have to be scary, but scary to the point of reverence, not scary to the point of disgust and contempt. This means that your soldiers and spies need to be as comfortable with hand to hand combat, as they are with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. They need to understand the implications of the Battle of Badr, as much as they do the lessons of the Battle of Uhud. It means that in 1989, they have to be adept at playing 21st century games, and in 2014, they have to master psy-ops online, because the enemy is bigger, badder, more sophisticated, and more scientific than the acne-infested insides of an MIT physics lab.

If you are going to be a national security state, that everybody is always out to get, you have to build your own machines, with your own money. Your own hardware, like planes, and your own software, like voice over IP applications – that everybody downloads. You have to build your own everything. If you’re going to be a national security state, you have to win. Regularly.

What you cannot afford, and what indicates a basic lack of competence and capability is that you lose the little battles, to nothing enemies. You cannot afford to be despised by people with a wide audience. You cannot afford to develop sources over two decades that turn on you over two years and cause you headaches that you cannot manage. You cannot afford testimonies in the parliaments of countries that matter, countries that supply you, sometimes with cold, hard cash, and sometimes with even colder, harder hardware.

You cannot afford to buy everybody, because not everybody is for sale. You cannot afford to fool yourself into believing the sycophantic lunatics that are easy to buy and easy to keep, because those lunatics aren’t taken seriously anywhere, except in your offices. You cannot afford more lies than you can manage, and you cannot afford to have the enemy gloating, satisfied at having cracked you open like a mea culpa piñata, with every credible voice in your country seeking to retain that credibility by, at best sidestepping questions about you, and at worst, joining in the chorus.

Youth Radicalization in Pakistan

February 26, 2014 
By: Raheem ul Haque 

Amid the serious threat of extremism within Pakistan’s large young adult population, author Raheem ul Haque explores the process of youth radicalization and recommends how policymakers can best confront the growing challenge. 


Pakistani leaders face serious domestic extremism challenges; more than 47,000 thousand lives have been lost in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan over the past decade. 

Effective counter-radicalization processes must take into account Pakistan’s large young adult population (ages 15-29), which collectively accounts for at least 30 percent of the overall population. 

Youth radicalization in Pakistan can be understood as the product of an exclusively Islamic identity—meaning a majority of youth identify primarily through their religion over nationality— combined with a broader reactive movement comprised of militant, political and missionary organizations. 

A variety of religious, political and militant organizations operating within Pakistan, some with the tacit or active support of the state, have fostered an enabling environment for radicalization and at times violent action. Some groups provide forums for interaction and connections with more militant actors, while others carry out the whole range of social, political and violent activity. 

When radical groups can popularize an exclusive Islamic or sectarian identity, even nonviolent organizations can become connected or aligned with more radical organizations and concepts. 

Confronting youth radicalization in Pakistan requires a holistic approach that supports political, social and educational alternatives to exclusionary Islamic identities, reducing the space for groups that espouse violence in the name of an exclusive Islamic identity. 

About This Brief

Based in part on USIP-supported surveys and focus group interviews conducted in Lahore, Pakistan from late 2011 to spring 2013 with a range of youth, author Raheem ul Haque provides a theoretical framework for understanding the process of youth radicalization in Pakistan. The author is a research fellow at the Forman Christian College Centre for Public Policy and Governance in Lahore, Pakistan; the views expressed here are his own.


Within the past decade, more than 47,000 people have been killed in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan.1Attacks by domestic terrorist organizations have implications for physical security, but they also impact the domestic social and political fabric. The surge in attacks in Pakistan has often been attributed to external factors, particularly the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan or the covert U.S. Predator drone campaign in Pakistan’s Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, but most violence is carried out by Pakistani militant actors targeting their fellow citizens.

The attack on Hamid Mir and its aftermath.


Propagandists in Pakistan move in mysterious ways their wonders to perform.  Those who once exercised creative license to ascribe any and all acts of terror in Pakistan to India’s external intelligence agency R&AW are now being labeled agents of that same agency.  Hamid Mir, senior journalist with the GEO Group, was attacked this past Saturday by unidentified persons while on his way to a special broadcast on GEO TV in Karachi.  Mr. Mir was shot six times in the abdomen and legs, but miraculously survived the attack.
In the ensuing outrage, Amir Mir, brother to Hamid and a journalist of repute himself, accused the ISI of orchestrating the attack on his brother.  GEO TV, as part of its coverage of the attack, broadcast a photograph of DG ISI Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, while Ansar Abbasi, investigative editor of the Jang Group’s English-language newspaper The News, demanded his resignation.

Big mistake.  One does not simply accuse the DG ISI on national television and get away with it.  The ISI dismissed the allegations as “baseless” (as all allegations usually are in Pakistan). Pakistan’s Defense Ministry, in its complaint against GEO TV, accuses it of bringing the ISI into disrepute and demands that Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) cancel GEO TV’s license to broadcast.
With the PEMRA verdict still pending, GEO TV took to Twitter yesterday, indicating that its channel had been blocked by a few cable operators.  This may of course be true, but some of us may be forgiven if we suspect this to be a reenactment of the last time GEO TV claimed to have been taken off air. In that particular instance, a GEO official privately confirmed that they had “taken themselves off the air in order to blame [a] political party, and garner support for the station.”

GEO TV and Mr. Mir are now under attack from many quarters.  Rival media houses are in an all-out war.  Many of them are unable to appreciate the fact that the price one now pays for defying the Deep State is no longer censorship, it is death.  And it wouldn’t matter if it were GEO, Express or Dawn.  The rules of the game have changed.

Of course, propaganda theories of Indian involvement are never very far when hell breaks loose in Pakistan, which is always.  The Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rasheed, who was “detained” in the U.S. in 2012 for his links with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hafiz Saeed, opined that the attack on Hamid Mir benefited India, which was looking to malign the Pakistani Army and ISI. Hafiz Saeed also took to Twitter to level vague and uncreative accusations at India and the U.S.

Mr. Mir himself had been particularly distressed in the recent past at being labelled an “Indian agent.” But how things change.  It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Mir did the bidding of higher powers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad before he managed to find his liberal conscience (though possibly not his “liberal fascist” conscience).
Indeed, he was for the ISI before he was against it.  After all, not every journalist in Pakistan gets to interview Osama bin Laden.  And that too not once, but on three occasions. But the nature of that relationship changed in 2010 when a tape surfaced of Mr. Mir allegedly conversing with the TTP’s Usman Punjabi, in which he relayed false information that may have contributed to the death of ISI official Khalid Khawaja.  The recorded conversation, still available online, also has Mr. Mir talking disparagingly about Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmedis. Quite the liberal indeed.

So where does this all end? It is hard to see how PEMRA could fly in the face of the ISI’s demands and recommend anything other than revoking GEO’s license. But in time, the brouhaha will be forgotten.  Ansar Abbasi and the GEO crew will probably show up somewhere, somehow on some national TV show in which they will proceed to eulogize the Pakistani army, thereby underscoring their hubb ul-watan (patriotic) credentials. Couple this with private undertakings to comply with the red lines now drawn and order will be restored. Licenses will be reinstated, and talk show hosts and their guests will be yelling at each other, competing for the soundbite of the day on GEO TV soon enough. 

Pakistan army eyes Taliban talks with unease

25 April 2014 Last updated at 00:49

From the moment it was founded in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban have proved to be a formidable force.

Their suicide bombers have killed tens of thousands in cities and at the height of its power, in 2008, they controlled huge swathes of territory in the north-west and were even threatening the city of Peshawar.

"The government was in trouble. There were Taliban everywhere," says Gen Khalid Rabbani, who commands the 156,000 troops currently deployed to suppress the insurgency.

At one point the government even considered shifting the provincial administration in Peshawar to a safer place.

When jihadists took control of the Swat Valley and started beheading local opponents, the Taliban's advances made international headlines. The Taliban was just 100km (60 miles) from the capital Islamabad.

Then, after long periods of hesitation and attempted ceasefires, the army eventually took decisive action. In 2009, it evicted the Taliban from Swat and restored the writ of the state there.

The Pakistani Taliban continues to control North Waziristan

It was the start of a long, bloody campaign that has so far cost the lives of more than 5,000 Pakistani soldiers. Today, the Taliban has been pushed back to the point that it has control of just one tribal area - North Waziristan, and part of another, Khyber.

But the Pakistani Taliban remains a formidable force. It has an estimated 25,000 fighters and can still mount attacks and conduct assassinations in Pakistan's major cities.

'Safe haven'

The question of why the army has failed to mount an offensive in the remaining redoubt of North Waziristan is highly controversial.

Critics of the army believe that it is trying to protect Afghan Taliban fighters who use North Waziristan as a sanctuary. The Pakistani security establishment sees the Afghan Taliban as a strategic asset that can counter growing Indian influence in Afghanistan.

Chinese Air Force way ahead of IAF

By Air Marshal Narayan Menon

Issue Vol. 26.4 Oct-Dec 2011 | Date : 26 Apr , 2014

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 proved to be a boon to China and the PLAAF. Apart from a formidable enemy being neutralised, many displaced scientists, engineers and technicians from the erstwhile Soviet Union found employment in the Chinese military industrial complex. The Russian aircraft industry struggling to survive, was more than willing to sell modern aeroplanes and technology to China. And the booming Chinese economy could afford to import the best that was on offer.
PLAAF : An Emerging Aerospace Power

A visionary, long-term and time-bound approach to military modernisation, supported by a strong and innovative military-industrial capability has transformed the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force(PLAAF) of China, from an antiquated, derelict, poorly trained and over-sized force to a modern aerospace power with increasing proficiency to undertake its stated missions in the 21st Century. The Indian establishment, especially the Indian Air Force (IAF), needs to absorb this reality and restructure its modernisation plans. The Indian security environment is being continuously impacted by China’s rise, militarily and economically as a global power.

The foundations of China’s long term plan for its modernisation programme were laid in 2010 and aims at major progress by 2020. By 2050 China would accomplish its strategic goal of building an ‘informatized’ (net-centric warfare enabled) armed forces capable of winning wars. Perhaps the unstated objective of the plan is to expand China’s ‘comprehensive national power’ beyond the existing regional status. China’s plan to ‘lay a solid foundation by 2010’ appears to have been achieved as demonstrated by the large-scale exercise ‘Stride-2009’ held to coincide with 50 years celebration of communist rule in China. 50,000 troops were moved from regions in the West to the East. The objective of Stride-2009 was to test the ability to move forces on a large-scale from the areas they had trained in to areas they were unfamiliar with. Another aim was to subject the massive rail, road and air infrastructure created over the years to heavy military movement pressure and examine if such pressure adversely affected civilian population. The PLAAF played an important role in this exercise.

China is determined in developing modern military aerospace capabilities. Having generated a certain quantum of expertise in the field, including learning from the designers, technicians and scientists imported from CIS countries where they had been rendered unemployed…

In 1999, PLAAF operated over 3500 combat aircraft comprising mainly the J-6 (MiG-19 equivalent) and the J-7 (based on the MiG-21). A deal with Russia saw the induction of 100 Su-27 fighters. PLAAF also had in its inventory the H-6(Tu-16 based) bombers. China had no precision-guided munitions(PGMs) and only the Su-27 was BVR compatible.

Modernisation of the PLAAF has been propelled by China’s astounding economic growth. The 21st century has witnessed the acquisition of 105 Su-30MKK from 2000 to 2003 and 100 upgraded Su-30MKK2 in 2004. China produced more than 200 J-11s from 2002 onwards. The PLAAF also bought a total of 126 Su-27SK/UBK in three batches. The production of the J-10 combat aircraft began in 2002 and 1200 are on order. The H-6 bombers (Tu-16 Badger) were converted into flight refuelling aircraft. In 2005, the PLAAF unveiled plans to acquire 70 Il-76 transport aircraft and 30 Il-78 tankers to significantly upgrade strategic airlift capability and offer extended range to the fighter force. The US Department of Defense has reported that Su-27 SKs are being upgraded to the multi-role Su-27 SMK status.

U.S. Military Must Prepare for China’s Rise—and Fall

By Steven Metz, April 23, 2014,

For this week at least, Russia’s revived aggression is dominating the news in the United States. Once the furor subsides, the conflict with al-Qaida will likely regain most of the attention from the media and national security experts. But in the long term, these issues pale in importance to the challenge of China’s rising power, however much it may have faded into the background today.

As China’s economy took off in recent decades, the nation undertook a vast military expansion and became increasingly confident and assertive, shifting from a sullen, insular nation to a global power. The United States responded with a dual-track policy, simultaneously engaging and balancing China. Engagement was intended to assure Beijing that a cooperative relationship was possible and to encourage China to help maintain the existing Asia-Pacific security and economic system. Balancing, which involved expanded American cooperation with traditional security partners like Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines and the development of new partnerships with nations like India and Singapore, was to convince China that it could not alter the regional order by force.

In the broadest sense, this strategy was designed to “manage” China’s rise. Security experts differ on how it will unfold. Some, like the University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer, are pessimistic, believing that eventually the United States and China will reach the point of outright confrontation, possibly even armed conflict. Others, like Princeton’s Aaron Friedberg and David Lai of the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, believe that sustaining a cooperative U.S.-China relationship will be difficult but possible. The key is understanding when to engage and when to balance.

Despite these differences, most security experts assumed that China’s rise would continue at least for a while. Eventually, official corruption, an aging population and an unsustainable economic model will slow down China’s economic growth and moderate its behavior. The task for the United States is to safely manage the relationship until that point. Hopefully this is accurate.

The Chinese Military Can 'Fight Any Battle and Win'

APRIL 14, 2014 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's whirlwind tour of China in early April saw a tense exchange with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan over the United States' pivot to Asia. China would "make no compromise, no concession, no treaty," Chang said, adding, "the Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle and win." Hagel, for his part, said that the United States was "fully committed" to is treaty obligations with the Philippines and with Japan -- which administers the Senkakus, the disputed islands which China claims and calls the Diaoyu. In the days leading up to U.S. President Barack Obama's late April trip to the region, where is visiting Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Malaysia -- and pointedly not China -- there is a worrying amount of strain among China, Japan, and the United States. Are temperatures running so high that China might actually seize the Senkakus by force? Or are these worries overblown? 

We asked contributors to assess the risks in relations among China, Japan and the United States. 


Ely Ratner Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security 

The U.S.-China relationship has a way of providing something for everyone, and on this score Hagel's visit to Beijing met all expectations. 

Proponents of the concept of a "new model of major country relations" could come away seeing the visit as an exemplar of win-win engagement given the spate of concrete agreements to deepen bilateral dialogue and military-to-military cooperation. 

Antithetically, those predisposed to view China's rise in competitive terms could point to the fact that substantive discussions devolved into literal finger wagging as the issues plaguing the "new" relationship looked a whole lot like those that used to trouble the "old" one. 

So what do these contradictory accounts of the health of mil-mil relations between the United States and China mean for the management of increasingly tense maritime and sovereignty disputes in East Asia? My view is: hopefully, not much. 

China's policy -- exemplified by Chang's remarks at a joint press conference with Hagel --has sought to put the onus on the United States to rein in Japan and the Philippines, which Beijing views as the United States' emboldened and adventurous allies, while meanwhile trying to prop up U.S.-China ties as more consequential and important than the United States' other relations in the region. This approach neatly places the United States as both the source of and the cure for instability in maritime Asia. 

But, if anything, China's leaders learned from Hagel's visit that its "new model" of relations with Washington actually may backfire in this regard. The United States is not going to temper its alliance commitments for the sake of advancing Chinese sovereignty claims. Instead, the implicit message in Hagel's remarks in Beijing was that China is going to have to take responsibility for its own actions. 

Welcome to the Uighur Web

Amid police crackdowns and stifling censorship, one Chinese ethnic minority struggles to be heard online. 
APRIL 21, 2014 

 China's Internet is vast, with millions of sites and more than 618 million users. But nest-egged within that universe is a tiny virtual community comprising just a few thousand websites where China's Uighurs, the country's fifth-largest ethnic minority with a population of approximately 11 million, gather online to communicate in their own language and script. 

This is the Uighur web. The space can be defined as the Internet as it exists within the borders of China's far western autonomous region of Xinjiang, the homeland of the Turkic-language-speaking, mostly Muslim Uighur minority. It can also be seen as the Uighur-focused Internet perused by Uighurs across China. In both cases, content and access are tightly controlled. 

Because of sporadic violence that the Chinese government blames on a simmering separatist movement, authorities are vigilant about scouring the Uighur web for material that they think could incite unrest. After ethnic riots in the regional capital of Urumqi left at least 197 people dead in July 2009, Xinjiang's web was unplugged for 10 months, stranding 22 million people of all ethnicities offline. 

Xinjiang has "gained independence on the Internet, separated from the Internet world," blogged journalist and blogger Wang Dahao wryly a few months into the shutdown. "It was absolutely unbearable," Zheng Liang, a lecturer at Xinjiang University in Urumqi, who researches media and ethnic minorities, told Foreign Policy. "I had to fly to another province to get to my emails." 
Authorities in Xinjiang continue to reach for the Internet kill switch when violence flares, though the shutdowns now are more targeted. When a reporter for the New York Times visited the remote oasis town of Hotan in southern Xinjiang in August 2013 to report on a violent clash between Uighurs and police on June 28, 2013, he found that cell-phone service in the area had been cut for weeks following the incident and that residents still had no Internet access. 

Given all that, the Internet penetration rate in Xinjiang appears surprisingly high. According to statistics from the government-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), Xinjiang is the 11th-most connected region in China out of 31 ranked, with 43 percent of its population online, and an annual penetration growth rate of 9.1 percent. Zheng says smartphone use is the dominant form of access and that his Uighur students and friends are "addicted" to the Internet. Especially popular is WeChat, a Chinese homegrown messaging app that has become a common way to stay in touch and share news. 

China Splurging on Military as U.S. Pulls Back

April 24, 2014

QINGDAO, China (AP) -- China's navy commissioned 17 new warships last year, the most of any nation. In a little more than a decade, it's expected to have three aircraft carriers, giving it more clout than ever in a region of contested seas and festering territorial disputes.

Those numbers testify to huge increases in defense spending that have endowed China with the largest military budget behind the United States and fueled an increasingly large and sophisticated defense industry. While Beijing still lags far behind the U.S. in both funding and technology, its spending boom is attracting new scrutiny at a time of severe cuts in U.S. defense budgets that have some questioning Washington's commitments to its Asian allies, including some who have lingering disputes with China.

Beijing's newfound military clout is one of many issues confronting President Barack Obama as he visits the region this week. Washington is faced with the daunting task of fulfilling its treaty obligations to allies such as Japan and the Philippines, while also maintaining cordial relation with key economic partner and rising regional power China.

China's boosted defense spending this year grew 12.2 percent to $132 billion, continuing more than two decades of nearly unbroken double-digit percentage increases that have afforded Beijing the means to potentially alter the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific. Outside observers put China's actual defense spending significantly higher, although estimates vary widely.

Increases in spending signal "strength and resolve to China's neighbors," requiring other countries to pay close attention to where Beijing is assigning its resources, said China defense expert Abraham Denmark, vice president for political and security affairs at the U.S-based National Bureau of Asian Research.

At the same time, the U.S. military is seeking to redirect resources to the Asia-Pacific as it draws down its defense commitment inAfghanistan, although officers warn that budget cuts could potentially threaten plans to base 60 percent of U.S. naval assets to the region. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert recently warned that U.S. capabilities to project power "would not stay ahead" of those of potential adversaries, given the fiscal restraints.

Meanwhile, China's navy is rapidly developing into a force to contend with the U.S., long the dominant military player in the Asia-Pacific region.

China commissioned its first aircraft carrier - a refurbished Ukrainian hull - in 2012, and another two indigenous carriers are expected to enter service by 2025, significantly increasing Beijing's ability to project power into the South China Sea that it claims virtually in its entirety.

Analysts say China will have as many as 78 submarines by 2020, part of an expansion that has seen it leap past the U.S. and Russia in numbers of warships delivered annually, according to experts and available figures.

"That's very much in line with the leadership's call for China to become a major military-industrial power," said Tai Ming Cheung, director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, San Diego.

In Defense of Foreign Policy Ignorance

April 25, 2014

A recent survey found that the worse people are at spotting Ukraine on a map, the more likely they are to support an American intervention there. That touched off a debate on the role of expertise in decision-making. Writing in the Washington Post, Charles Lane questioned the notion that expertise trumps all: "Since when is precise, granulated geographical knowledge some sort of prerequisite for deciding what's right in foreign policy generally or for Ukraine specifically? [...] Foreign policy is not only about knowledge but also judgment; not only smarts but also wisdom." Greg Scoblete of RealClearWorld shot back: "Understanding a subject deeply is certainly no guarantee that you'll make the correct decisions. [...] But over the long term, it strikes me as far better to empower decision-makers that actually know what they're talking about rather than those who pantomime right-sounding principles as a substitute for genuine understanding." And this isn't a new debate -- it cropped up as Republicans weighed their options after Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012, and when Sarah Palin was on the ticket in 2008, just to name a couple of recent examples.

How much should our foreign policy leaders know about the countries with which they interact? Some ignorance is inevitable. There's essentially no limit to how much you can learn about a particular foreign country -- nobody will know everything. Worse, there are many countries, and a major international power like the United States must interact with almost all of them. Nobody can know enough about each one. Worse still, the foreign policy buck stops at the desk of someone responsible for a lot more than just foreign policy: the president. There can be no Expert in Chief; there are state dinners to attend, judges to appoint, websites to launch and ninety-minute phone calls with Putin to be made. And many of the president's immediate subordinates have broad portfolios of their own. John Kerry and Ben Rhodes don't have time to read the Kyiv Post, People's Daily and the Tehran Times every morning, or to dig deeply into the history and culture of every country that they deal with. If expertise must play a central role in policy-making, the wise move would be to delegate as many decisions as possible pertaining to U.S. policy toward particular countries to the best experts on those countries. Yet that's not what we do -- thank goodness.

For one thing, a global player with complicated, interlocking interests around the world can't make policy toward specific countries in isolation, even if experts on those countries unanimously agree that their preferred policy is the best. The negotiations with Iran, for example, have had a major effect on America's relations with Israel and the Gulf states. Success at the negotiating table will require the careful management of those relationships, and that management might require adjustments in the negotiations with Iran -- adjustments that the Iran experts might not support. The complexity is even greater when dealing with other global powers, since they can respond in many areas. Russia is a party to the Iran negotiations, an Iranian trading partner and a potential Iranian arms supplier. Moscow could easily choose to answer U.S. policies in Ukraine with policies of its own toward Iran. And so the Iran talks might impact -- and be impacted by -- decisions about a country more than one thousand miles from Tehran.

Iraq's Stability Hangs in the Upcoming Election


Marina Ottaway | April 27, 2014

The April 30 parliamentary elections in Iraq will go a long way toward determining the future of the country and of U.S. involvement in the region. Al-Maliki’s third term as prime minister is at stake, but so are the relationships between the governing structures of the country (namely, between the government in Baghdad and Iraq’s increasingly restive provinces).

The United States abandoned long ago the idea of building a democratic state in Iraq, but it still wants the country to remain united. As a result, Washington takes a cautious, lukewarm position toward the largely autonomous Kurdistan region and is suspicious of more autonomy for other provinces.

But in Iraq, the tension between the central government in Iraq and provincial authorities is growing. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s central government has strengthened considerably and so has al-Maliki’s role within it. Immediately after the U.S. intervention, the fall of Saddam Hussein, and the disbanding of both his army and party, Iraq was left with a weak center. The United States worried that the 2005 constitution would add to the problem. Under pressure from Kurd representatives, the constitution granted a large degree of autonomy to Kurdistan, limiting the power of the central government. It also recognized the right of other provinces to transform themselves into autonomous provinces. Had all provinces done so, Iraq would have turned into an extremely decentralized federal system, verging on a confederation. Indeed, some, including then Senator and now Vice President Joe Biden started talking of a forthcoming soft-partition of Iraq.

The choice of Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in the wake of the January 2006 elections seemed to confirm this trend. Al-Maliki was the compromise candidate of the squabbling parties, chosen because he appeared to have no independent power base. U.S. officials worried about the consequences for Iraq of a politically weak prime minister presiding over an institutionally weak central government.

The United State´s Strategic Shift Towards the Pacific – Continuity and Change


The goal of this paper is to analyze the global-scale trend of American strategic shift towards the Pacific and East Asia. This development will be one of crucial trends of international relations in the foreseeable future which will have a determining effect on the global security environment. While immediately following the release of new U.S. Strategic Guidance in January 2012 it was referred to in the media and discussions as “something new,” in fact it is quite to the contrary. The most important driving forces and reason of this change started to emerge at least 2-3 decades ago. The realization in the old continent came late due to “Eurocentric worldview” that was temporarily overwhelmed by events in her neighborhood and by the US engagement in Europe´s conflicts (wars in South-Eastern Europe as a most prominent example), but the rest of the globe realized it a long time ago. Moreover, Obama administration´s steps toward Pacific and East Asia are to a large extent based on changes initiated or realized by previous administrations, particularly that of G.W. Bush. From that point of view Obama´s “Pacific shift” is a combination of both continuity and new elements based on long-term historical/strategic trends. On the whole, we are witnessing more of an evolution than revolution is US strategic positioning.


The goal of this paper is to analyze the global-scale-trend of American strategic shift towards the Pacific and East Asia. This development will be one of crucial trends of international relations in foreseeable future which will have a determining effect on the global security environment. While it was referred in media and discussions during the last few months immediately after the release of new U.S. Strategic Guidance in January 2012 as “something new” the opposite is the truth. The most important driving forces and reason of this change started to emerge at least 2-3 decades ago. Sure, Europe´s “Eurocentric worldview” was temporarily overwhelmed by events in our neighborhood and by the US engagement in Europe´s conflicts (wars in South-Eastern Europe as a most prominent example), but the rest of the globe realized this shift some time ago. Moreover, Obama administration´s steps toward Pacific and East Asia are to a large extent based on changes initiated or realized by previous administrations, particularly that of G.W. Bush. From that point of view Obama´s “Pacific shift” is a combination of both continuity and new elements based on long-term historical/strategic trends. Thus, on the whole, there is more evolution than revolution.

Historic and strategic trends

The United States possesses simultaneously both an Atlantic and a Pacific vector of its global strategy. The primacy of the Atlantic vector in foreign policy and strategy – with European allies as most important partners in world affairs – was based on “Europe first” tenet made during the WWII. That decision was based on strategic assessment that Germany represents a more serious strategic threat than Japan as well as on United Kingdom´s special relationship as the US most important ally. The emergence of the Soviet center of power, which decisively focused on Europe during the Cold War as well as in the post-War strategic environment, extended that strategic approach. Because of that primacy, the Atlantic vector secured its dominant position for half century in American foreign and security policy and strategies.[1]

America should work to bring Asia into the club

By Fareed Zakaria, Published: April 25

Foreign policy commands attention when it is crisis management. A street revolt breaks out in Egypt or Libya or Ukraine, and everyone asks how the president of the United States should respond. This is an important element of America’s role in the world, but it is essentially reactive and tactical. The broader challenge is to lay down a longer-term strategy that endures after crises. The Obama administration has tried to do this with its Asia policy — and the president’s trip there this week is part of it — but progress has been halting and incomplete. Still, the real threat to a serious Asia strategy comes not from the administration but rather from Congress and the American public. In fact, the difficulties in the execution of the pivot raise the larger question: Can the United States have a grand strategy today? 

President Obama’s basic approach is wise and is, in many ways, a continuation of U.S. foreign policy since Bill Clinton’s presidency. On the diplomatic front, it has two elements: deterrence and engagement. All countries in Asia — as well as the United States — seek stronger and deeper economic ties with China but also want to ensure that the country does not become an expansionist, regional bully. Getting the balance between the two elements of this policy is hard to do and easy to criticize. In general, the Obama administration has handled this skillfully, keeping a close relationship with China while still setting out clear markers that should deter territorial expansion. 

It’s fair to say that Obama has not given enough attention and energy to his own“pivot” strategy. Two trips to the region have been canceled. He has not been to China since his first year in office. His second-term team is conspicuously lacking in Asia experts. This is a mistake. Success in Asia could be the most substantive accomplishment of his remaining time in office. 

There is, however, an important constructive aspect to the Asia policy. At the center of this is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It not only would be the largest trade deal in decades — involving most of Asia’s major economies and perhaps eventually even China — but it would also strongly reinforce American-style rules about free and open trade worldwide. Yet the president has not been able to get the “fast-track authority” that would make it possible to negotiate any trade deal. 

The Democratic Party, once the greatest champion of free trade, has long turned its back on the TPP — a sad shift in a once open and optimistic party. In recent years, Republican support for trade has also gotten much weaker. The result is that the TPP, a grand, ambitious idea, is on life support. The U.S. military strategy in Asia will require significant budgets that are under pressure from both sides of the aisle. Public support for any kind of generous or ambitious foreign policy is extremely low.