29 June 2014

*****Five Chinese Weapons of War India Should Fear

June 28, 2014
Should New Delhi be concerned about Beijing's growing military might?

Last week I discussed in these pages five Indian weapons of war China should fear. This week it’s time to turn the tables and lose the Twitter followers I gained after the article’s publication.

As I noted previously, the mountainous terrain on the Chinese-Indian border makes a land war difficult to prosecute and relatively easy to defend. The decisive war would take place at sea as India--sitting astride the shipping lanes providing a significant part of China’s energy--could set up a naval blockade and essentially strangle Beijing’s economy. China would have to sortie the People’s Liberation Army Navy into the Indian Ocean to break the blockade.

That having been said, China has ways to asymmetrically attack India and fight across multiple domains of conflict to entice India to back down. Beijing’s large fleet of conventionally armed ballistic missiles could be used to bombard Indian territory and compel India to a ceasefire. China could even argue that as an Indian blockade harms China’s economy, Indian economic targets, such as factories, refineries, and energy reserves would be fair game. Beijing’s ongoing development of hypersonic weapons will add a new level of complexity to such an attack.

Once again, such analysis is not meant to suggest that war between China and India is likely, or even practical but an understanding of such weapon systems is important. That having been said, let’s take a look at some Chinese weapons that would stand out during such a conflict.

WU-14 Hypersonic Weapon System

On January 9th China tested a completely new type of weapon, one capable of blistering speeds. The weapon, a WU-14 boost glide hypersonic weapon system,was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province.

Hypersonic weapons were conceived by the Bush administration after 9/11 as a way to strike time-sensitive targets such as terrorist meetings or weapons of mass destruction. Hypersonic weapons travel between Mach 5 and 10, or 3,840 to 7,680 miles an hour. The kinetic energy of object traveling at hypersonic speeds makes a high explosive warhead optional.

American research into hypersonic weapons has spawned Russian, Indian and Chinese development efforts. Before the January 9th test China was known to have a hypersonic program, but little was known about what direction it was taking.

China’s test involved using the so-called “boost glide” method to get to hypersonic speeds. The test likely involved a hypersonic weapon strapped on top of a repurposed DF-21 intermediate range ballistic missile. The weapon was then boosted high into the atmosphere and glided back to Earth at hypersonic speeds. Hypersonic weapons are very difficult to develop, but China’s test was reportedly considered at least a limited success.

Assessment of the Pakistani Military’s Offensive Into North Waziristan Against the Taliban

Andrew McGregor
June 27, 2014

THE CUTTING STRIKE: OPERATION ZARB-E-AZB IN NORTH WAZIRISTANPakistan’s military has spent months trying to convince their civilian masters of the necessity of mounting a large military offensive in the lightly-ruled North Waziristan tribal agency, currently a hotbed for Islamist extremists and foreign fighters. The objections of the political class were finally overcome following the June 8 terrorist attack on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, a devastating demonstration of strength by the militants and a further display of the inability of local security forces to contain extremist groups and the futility of continuing peace talks with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). On June 15, Pakistan’s military launched Operation Zarb-e Azb (“the cutting strike”), a massive offensive designed to clear North Waziristan of militants and extremists. The name of the operation appears to be part of an effort to lend a sense of Islamic legitimacy to the offensive – Azb was the name of the sword carried in battle by the Prophet Muhammad. Pakistani forces were also armed with a religious decision signed by over 100 clerics from various Islamic trends that declared their operations a jihad with the right to use an iron fist on extremists guilty of hundreds of murders (Hindustan Times, June 24).

The operation began with F-16 airstrikes that killed a claimed 105 militants, including the alleged planner of the Jinnah Airport attack, Uzbek commander Abu Abdur Rahman Almani (Dawn [Karachi], June 15). American CIA drone strikes have also targeted militants in the region, though these are not officially part of the government’s offensive. Despite the apparent tacit approval of Islamabad and the unlikelihood that American drone operations inside North Waziristan would be mounted independent of Pakistani authorities during a military operation in the region, Pakistan has still condemned recent drone strikes in North Waziristan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (The Nation[Islamabad], June 14; June 19).

According to the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Marine General Joseph Dunford, U.S. forces inside Afghanistan were not coordinating with the Pakistani offensive but were ready to intercept militants looking to wait out the operation inside Afghan territory (AP, June 17). The U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan is seen as a major factor in motivating Pakistani authorities to take the offensive in North Waziristan before the Afghan Taliban are able to consolidate their control of the border region in cooperation with local militants. Some 450,000 residents of North Waziristan have fled the offensive so far, taking advantage of a break in the campaign to allow their evacuation to Bannu, Peshawar, Kohat and, ironically, across the border in Afghanistan (Dawn[Karachi], June 22).

The success of Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan depends to a great extent on the willingness of Afghan president Hamid Karzai to seal the border, though appeals from Islamabad have yet to receive a positive response from Kabul. Karzai, who alleges the terrorist problem in his country has a Pakistani origin, is apparently seeking a commitment from Islamabad that the offensive will be part of a major operation to shut down cross-border militant groups such as the Haqqani Network that have operated with the connivance of Pakistan’s military intelligence service (News on Sunday [Islamabad], June 22). Targeting the Haqqani Network is also a condition of further U.S. military assistance (The News [Islamabad], June 13). Whether Afghan security forces actually have the ability to effectively seal the border remains an open question. Without the full cooperation of Afghan forces, some militants are believed to have already slipped across the border into Paktika and Khost provinces, while others may have scattered into the remote wilderness of North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley (News on Sunday [Islamabad], June 22). Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, Shaida Muhammad Abdali, recently observed that Pakistani authorities had not succeeded in their battle against extremism “because they are fighting those they don’t like, but not those whom they like” (The Hindu, June 24).

Taliban Offensive in Helmand Province Largest Mounted by Afghan Insurgents in Years

Azam Ahmed and Taimoor Shah
June 28, 2014
Taliban Mount Major Assault in Afghanistan

Security officials at a checkpoint in Helmand Province, which has experienced an aggressive insurgent push. Credit Watan Yar/European Pressphoto Agency

KABUL, Afghanistan — In one of the most significant coordinated assaults on the government in years, the Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in northern Helmand Province, sending police and military officials scrambling to shore up defenses and heralding a troubling new chapter as coalition forces prepare to depart.

The attacks have focused on the district of Sangin, historically an insurgent stronghold and one of the deadliest districts in the country for the American and British forces who fought for years to secure it. The Taliban have mounted simultaneous attempts to conquer territory in the neighboring districts of Now Zad, Musa Qala and Kajaki. In the past week, more than 100 members of the Afghan forces and 50 civilians have been killed or wounded in fierce fighting, according to early estimates from local officials.

With a deepening political crisis in Kabul already casting the presidential election and long-term political stability into doubt, the Taliban offensive presents a new worst-case situation for Western officials: an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The battle in Helmand is playing out as, about 1,500 miles to the west, Iraq is losing ground to an insurgent force that advanced in the shadow of the American withdrawal there. The fear pulsing through Afghanistan is that it, too, could fall apart after the NATO-led military coalition departs in 2016.

Already, areas once heavily patrolled by American forces have grown more violent as the Afghan military and the police struggle to feed, fuel and equip themselves. The lackluster performance of the Afghan Army so far in Helmand has also evoked comparisons with Iraq, raising questions about whether the American-trained force can stand in the way of a Taliban resurgence.

Officials in Helmand say the answers may come soon enough.

Is ISIS Preparing to Launch a New Offensive in Iraq? Probably….

June 27, 2014

Iraq: ISIS Battle Plan for Baghdad

Jessica Lewis

Institute for the Study of War
There are indications that ISIS is about to launch into a new offensive in Iraq. ISIS published photos of a military parade through the streets of Mosul on June 24, 2014 showcasing U.S. military equipment, including armored vehicles and towed artillery systems. ISIS reportedly executed another parade in Hawijah on June 26, 2014. These parades may be a demonstration force of reinforce their control of these urban centers. They may also be a prelude to ISIS troop movements, and it is important to anticipate where ISIS may deploy these forces forward. Meanwhile, ISIS also renewed the use of suicide bombers in the vicinity of Baghdad. An ISIS bomber with a suicide vest (SVEST) attacked the Kadhimiya shrine in northern Baghdad on June 26, 2014, one of the four holy sites in Iraq that Iran and Shi’a militias are most concerned to protect. ISIS also incorporated an SVEST into a complex attack in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, on June 25, 2014 in a zone primarily controlled by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Shi’a militias on the road from Baghdad to Karbala. These attacks are demonstrations that ISIS has uncommitted forces in the Baghdad Belts that may be brought to bear in new offensives. ISIS’s offensive has not culminated, and the ISIS campaign for Iraq is not over. Rather, as Ramadan approaches, their main offensive is likely imminent.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is formidable, but it is also predictable. ISIS has exposed many of the core elements of its strategy, and it is possible to anticipate their next steps. ISW assesses with confidence that ISIS’s urban offensive begun in Mosul has not culminated, and its campaign for Iraq is not over. ISIS’s next urban objective will likely be to clear the Haditha-Ramadi corridor along the Euphrates River in Anbar. ISIS’s ultimate military objective in Iraq is likely to destroy the government in Baghdad. This backgrounder will assess ISIS’s next steps in Iraq in light of its broader strategic goals. To do so, the backgrounder will examine where ISIS had military strength prior to the fall of Mosul and inventory its uncommitted forces. Based upon observable elements of the ISIS style of warfare, this backgrounder will observe where ISIS may have headquarters and how ISIS has likely divided the fight in Iraq and Syria into sectors. It will evaluate ISIS’s interim military objectives in each sector based on observed actions, because ISIS’s strategy continues to be careful and deliberate.


ISIS seeks to create an Islamic Emirate extending across Iraq and Syria. This vision is expansionist, and it is prosecuted through military conquest. ISIS’s grand strategy depends upon military superiority to wrest control of terrain from modern states by overcoming state security. The ISIS style of warfare hybridizes terrorism, guerilla warfare, and conventional warfare. The presence of the last indicates that the ISIS likely possesses a cadre of former Saddam-era military officers who know the military terrain in Iraq as their own. The military campaign design exhibited by ISIS over the last two years bears the signature of multiple commanders, though successive campaigns in Iraq have consistently demonstrated scope, distribution, deception, and timing as overarching strategic characteristics. The logic of ISIS’s recent urban campaign in Iraq exposes their likely next steps.

Read this backgrounder online.

Possible Collapse of Pakistan: Quantifying the Fallout


ByAshish Puntambekar
IssueVol 23.1Jan-Mar 2008 | Date : 28 Jun , 2014

The overall situation appears to be quite hopeless, and under these conditions, it is only the army that can keep the country together. A military state of emergency is therefore definitely on the cards. It is also very possible that Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif (together) may call in the International community (mainly the US) to help, once they realise that they will not be able to handle the militants. But before any of this happens, we will witness considerable policy confusion both in Rawalpindi and in Washington, as both sides desperately hunt for answers.
Expected Fallout

The Sindhis now have no stake left in the Union

With Benazir gone, the Sindhis, who are mainly into business, have no common interest with either the state of Punjab, the lawless north west (including the Peshawar area), Balochistan or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Therefore it’s just a matter of time before they sum up the courage to demand a separate state. There are however issues of mental attitude here as Sindh is not Balochistan. Sindhis are traders , not warriors like the Baloch.

If Stratfors information is correct, it would mean that the US and Europe have no real interest or strategic rationale any more for keeping Pakistan together. They will let it fail as it will then allow them to independently target the militants in the various breakaway states.

Benazir’s killing in Rawalpindi has its own significance too. Rawalpindi is Pakistan’s military headquarters. It is also located in the Punjab and this has implications for near term Punjab-Sindh relations. Sindh has a lot of Punjabi settlers besides a huge Mohajir community. The Mohajirs are Bihari Muslims and the Sindhi’s hate them as much as they hate the Punjabi settlers. The recent chain of events therefore has made a civil war between these rival groups very likely.

If violence breaks out in Sindh, Musharraf most likely will send the (mostly Punjabi) military to Karachi to stop the killing. The military however will itself come under attack in Sindh, as being dominated by the Punjabis they will not be seen as a unbiased force. It could then turn out to be a Serbia/Bosnia like situation. Any military action by Musharraf in Sindh could thus create more problems than it would solve.

India’s immediate worry: Civil war in Sindh

For India the main threat is of millions of refugees crossing the international border as a result of the civil war in Sindh. This event that could be just six months or a year away needs to be planned for, and the Indian government will do well to plan the deployment of close to a million men of our armed forces on the western border to prevent a massive refugee problem.

NWA: Pointless Symbolism

Ajit Kumar Singh 
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

At 01:30am [PST] on June 15, 2014, Pakistani Air Force jets launched aerial attacks on purported terrorist hideouts in the Degan and Datta Khel areas of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) killing at least 140 alleged terrorists and destroying eight hideouts, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) [no independent confirmation of these claims is available]. Later in the day, ISPR declared, “On the directions of the Government, Armed forces of Pakistan have launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb [Sword of the Prophet].”

Since the commencement of the operation, several alleged terrorist hideouts in areas like Shawal, Degan-Boya, Hasokhel, Zartatangi and Qutab Khel have been neutralised. A total of 257 terrorists and eight soldiers have been killed during the operation so far.

Some experts have started describing the current operation as an earnest effort on the part of authorities in Pakistan to finally taken on terrorists, since the recent strikes have targeted their safest sanctuaries in NWA, which had, hitherto, remained untouched. Significantly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had declared, in National Assembly on June 16, 2014, “Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been launched against terrorism and it will continue till the obtainment (sic) of the final objective of restoration of peace and tranquillity in Pakistan. I am confident the operation will be the harbinger of peace and security for Pakistan.”

Such vaunting declarations are not a novelty in Pakistan, but are difficult to reconcile with the country's broader strategic design and continuing exploitation of terrorism as an instrument, both of domestic political management and external strategic projection.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in the aftermath of the attack on Karachi Airport on June 8-9, 2014, in which at least 33 persons, including all ten attackers, were killed. Significantly, claiming responsibility for the attack, the NWA-based Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) posted a statement that read, “...This is revenge for the killing of civilians, migrant women and their children. This is revenge for the violence of the corrupt Pakistani Government.” The statement signed by Usman Gazij, IMU emir, concludes, “The jihad already in place in Afghanistan should be extended to Pakistan’s territory as well. Jihad in Pakistan should be fought by the entire Muslim Ummah and not just a few people or groups.” Pakistani Major General Rizvan Akhtar, speaking on the day of the attack, had claimed that there were Uzbeks among the suicide fighters in Karachi, and some reports claimed that most of the slain terrorists were Uzbeks. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had also claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghans Protest Fraudulent Election Practices

June 28, 2014

Abdullah Abdullah’s supporters have taken to the streets to protest allegations of fraud and ballot-stuffing. 

It was only a matter of time after the announcement of electoral fraud at the run-off elections in Afghanistan this year that Abdullah Abdullah’s supporters would take to the street. On Friday, thousands of supporters who had voted for Abdullah in the election or support his candidacy for president took to the streets of Kabul and marched towards the presidential palace. Their demand for now is that the government annul what are believed to be a significant number of fraudulent votes for Abdullah’s competitor, Ashraf Ghani. According to Afghanistan’s Pajhwok, the protesters chanted “Death to cheats, we have won and we don’t want sheep to participate” as they approached the presidential palace (the “sheep” the protesters refer to are the alleged vote stuffers).

The protesters additionally have taken to slogans including “our votes must be respected,” “death to those who committed fraud in the election process,” and “our beloved president is Abdullah Abdullah,” according to one report by TOLO News. Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) has not yet responded to the protester’s demand that the votes be counted with greater scrutiny. One protester notes that the basic demand among Abdullah’s supporters is that the election commission ”separate the fraudulent votes from the clean votes that the people had cast” in a transparent manner.

As I wrote earlier in a reflection on Afghanistan’s election, these elections are a major tipping point for the country as it prepares for its most important political transition in recent history. The relatively clean April 5 elections boded well for the future of Afghanistan, but the allegations of widespread fraud benefiting Ashraf Ghani — widely seen as the “Pashtun candidate” in the presidential election — stand to damage the legitimacy of both Afghanistan’s government and its independent agencies such as the IEC.

The protests seem to have the support of a broad base of Afghan politicians and leaders, including a former presidential candidate. According to Pajhwok, Abdullah joined the protesters along with Qayyum Karzai, Amrullah Saleh, Salahuddin Rabbani, and Allah Gul Mujahid among others. For now, the protests are still limited but they could spiral into a broader anti-government movement that could shake the fragile foundations of Afghanistan’s central government. In particular, this is a government that will need a modicum of legitimacy if it is to endure beyond the U.S. troop withdrawal. Allegations of fraud and corruption have marred the image of Afghanistan’s fragile democracy at a time when it needs its population to rally behind its institutions more than ever.

Pro-U.S. Syrian Rebel Groups Continuing to Lose Ground and Fighters to ISIS and Al Qaeda

June 28, 2014

Syrian Rebels Buckling in Face of Jihadis

Associated Press, June 28, 2014

BEIRUT — The Syrian rebels that the U.S. now wants to support are in poor shape, on the retreat from the radical al-Qaida breakaway group that has swept over large parts of Iraq and Syria, with some rebels giving up the fight. It is not clear whether the new U.S. promise to arm them will make a difference.

Some, more hard-line Syrian fighters are bending to the winds and joining the radicals.

The Obama administration is seeking $500 million to train and arm what it calls “moderate” factions among the rebels, a far larger project than a quiet CIA-led effort in Jordan that has been training a few hundreds fighters a month. But U.S. officials say it will take a year to get the new program fully underway. The U.S. also faces the difficult task of what constitutes a “moderate” rebel in a movement dominated by Islamist ideologies.

Opposition activists complain that after long hesitating to arm the rebellion to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad — their main goal — the United States is now enlisting them against the Islamic State out of its own interests. They have long argued that the group, which aims to create a radical Islamic enclave bridging Syria and Iraq, was only able to gain such power in Syria because more moderate forces were not given international support.

"This decision is a year and a half too late," said Ahmad Ramadan, a senior member of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition opposition group. "Had it not been for Obama’s hesitation all along, this wouldn’t be happening in Iraq today nor would there be this proliferation of extremist factions in Syria," he added.

Meeting with Syrian opposition leader Ahmed al-Jarba in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear the priority in helping the rebels was to fight the Islamic State — with hopes that their battlefield successes in Syria could dilute their insurgency’s power in Iraq.

The moderate opposition in Syria “has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against ISIL’s presence and to have them not just in Syria, but also in Iraq,” Kerry said. A senior State Department official traveling with Kerry later said the secretary did not mean to imply that Syrian rebels would actually cross the border to fight in Iraq. The official was not authorized to brief reporters by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Jarba, who leads a coalition in exile that only has nominal authority over some rebels on the ground, welcomed the aid, and appealed for more. But in Syria, opposition activists were skeptical.

Think inside the box on Pakistan

by Rohan Joshi 
May 30, 2014

India should pursue the means to mitigate threats to its national security emanating from Pakistan, rather than grand rapprochement.

India’s citizenry has rarely delivered as decisive a mandate as it did on May 16, 2014. Not since the 1984 general elections has a political party managed to secure the 272 seats needed to ensure its majority in the Lok Sabha. But even as the newly elected government directs its focus at domestic issues, it can scarcely ignore the tumultuous events that are shaping the global order.
In my previous column in Pragati, I outlined what I believe ought to be the next government’s foreign policy priorities. These include strengthening and expanding India’s strategic partnership with the United States, developing mechanisms to manage China’s ascendance and assertiveness, and encouraging India’s smaller neighbors to engage with India and benefit from its economic growth. That Pakistan did not feature in any substantive way in that piece was not inadvertent; it was by design.

Quite simply, Pakistan is not a foreign policy priority for India. India’s two previous prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Atal Behari Vajpayee made attempts at rapprochement with Pakistan that yielded little. Mr Vajpayee declared in his February 1999 address in Lahore that a “new century and a new millennium knocks on our doors” only to have the Pakistani army knocking on India’s doors in Kargil three months later. For his part, Dr Singh resolutely pursued chimerical notions of peace with Pakistan when all indications during his tenure were that Pakistan had no intention of reciprocating his gestures.

Just last week, much was made of the BJP’s decision to invite Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. While it is understandable that Mr. Sharif was invited along with the leaders of other SAARC member-states, coverage in the Indian media about the extension of the invitation to Mr Sharif and speculation over whether or not he would accept was over the top.

Call it Terrorism: The Unacknowledged Tactic of the Russian-Led Insurgency in Ukraine’s East

JUNE 26, 2014

Relatives of Volodymyr Rybak, a city councilor in Horlivka, carry his picture at his funeral April 24, after he was abducted and killed in Ukraine’s Donetsk province. The Ukrainian state security agency said Russian military officers directing separatist uprisings in Donetsk had ordered Rybak’s killing after he opposed a separatist takeover in Horlivka. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Once the Kremlin seized and “annexed” Crimea in late March, it began a campaign designed at a minimum to destabilize Eastern Ukraine. While we cannot know for sure what Mr. Putin’s maximalist goal is, it includes, at least, establishing an autonomous southeastern Ukraine sensitive to Moscow’s interests.

The Kremlin, however, badly miscalculated. It acted as if it believed its own propaganda, pumped out by Russia’s state-dominated media, that the ethnic Russians and “cultural Russians” in Ukraine’s east and south were seriously unhappy about the departure of former President Viktor Yanukovych, and were under some kind of danger from nationalist Ukrainians running the country from Kyiv.

Had that been true, it would have been relatively easy for the Kremlin to send in some operatives and help the locals organize their own resistance to the interim government in Kyiv that Moscow absurdly labeled a fascist junta. 

Since the people of the east failed to rise against Ukraine’s government, Moscow initiated an operation, led by its intelligence agencies and special forces, to spark an insurrection. Whatever label we use for it – insurgency, irregular warfare or other – its clear features include the following:

money, leadership and arms from Russia; 

Without U.S. Help, Iraq Hastily Trying to Form a Spit-and Paste Air Force

June 28, 2014

Iraq cobbling together makeshift air force to fight ISIS

Loveday Morris

Washington Post, June 28, 2014

BAGHDAD — Frustrated with the pace of U.S. jet and attack helicopter deliveries, the Iraqi government has resorted to negotiating the return of decades-old planes from Iran as it desperately tries to cobble together air power to turn the tide against al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents.

Iran has been “receptive” to the demands and is working on refurbishing an unspecified number of jets, Ammar Toma, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s defense and security committee said Friday. Government and military officials and two other lawmakers confirmed the negotiations.

The planes are among more than 100 Iraqi jets, including Soviet-made Sukhoi bombers and MiGs, which were flown to Iran by fleeing Iraqi pilots during the 1991 Gulf War. If delivered, they would join secondhand fighters from Belarus and Russia to create a ragtag air force that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hoping can help reverse insurgent gains.

Iraq is desperate for air power to strike militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and has expressed annoyance that long-awaited U.S. contracts for F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters are yet to be fulfilled.

The United States is flying armed drones over Iraq in case the 300 military advisers it is dispatching there need protection, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday.

How ISIS is carving out a new country

He acknowledged that the drones also could be used for airstrikes if President Obama decides to take military action against ISIS targets — a possibility the White House is still contemplating.

But with the United States holding back on strikes and no jets of its own, Iraq has been forced to rely on fixed-wing-propeller planes and helicopters armed with U.S.-supplied Hellfire missiles.for aerial attacks.

Despite its limited air power, the Iraqi military has managed to go on the offensive against ISIS in some areas in recent days, launching a commando attack to retake Tikrit and securing the road from Baghdad to Samarra this week.

With its first U.S.-supplied F-16s not expected to arrive until fall, the planes from Iran and secondhand jets from Russia and Belarus are an unsatisfactory stopgap, officials say.

“These planes are over 20 years old,” said a senior military officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the negotiations. He voiced concerns that using the outdated technology could mean large numbers of civilian casualties. “Even when you get them, you still need training for pilots. They aren’t just taxis that one can just jump into and drive,” he added, pointing out that many of the Iraqis who were trained to fly them are now too old.

Iran impounded about 130 planes after fleeing Iraqi pilots sought sanctuary in the country during the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi officials say. The aircraft include 24 Soviet-made Su-24s, 24 French Mirage F1s and 12 MiG-23s.

The Iranians argued that the aircraft amounted to reparations for the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.

A Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet built for the Iraqi air force as it completes its first flight over Fort Worth, Tex., in this handout picture taken May 2, 2014. The first pair of U.S.-supplied Iraqi F-16s are not set to be delivered until fall. (Handout/Reuters)

Despite the sensitivities, Iran now appears likely to return them, said Toma and one senior military official.
June 18,2014 Review Article
Manjari Miller, 
Wronged by Empire: Post-Imperial Ideology and Foreign Policy in India and China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 2013)

As Asia emerges at the center of international politics, China and India, each with a history of both glory as a cradle of civilization and humiliation as a colony or “semi-colony,” are perceived as on a journey back to their days as a center of civilization with the material capabilities to match. History is increasingly on the minds of their leaders and academic commentators as well. It is also on the minds of many of their neighbors, whose size and material power are of less consequence, but who have territorial disputes grounded in history with China or Japan.

Sino-Japanese relations keep spiraling downwards, as both sides strive to put it in a one-sided historical context. Meanwhile, as Daniel Twining pointed out in an Open Forum article and is continuing to discuss in Topics of the Month, Japan is trying to strengthen its relationship with India, which is seen as the next China, strengthening its economic partnership and also adding a security partnership. The BJP, calling for hidutva (a Hindu nationalist ideology), has come to power with aspirations to jumpstart the economy, but its leader, Narendra Modi, is reportedly in favor of forging closer relations with Japan and taking a firm stance on border disputes with China. International relations in the region cannot be understood only in terms of traditional theories. Asian countries are continuously emphasizing sovereignty, history, and apology. The review article is about a theoretical framework on ex-colonial countries with emphasis on foreign policy decision making, taking India and China as examples.

Manjari Miller’s argument is in line with Deepa Ollapally’s January Special Forum article, in its consciousness of what Deepa calls an “underbalancing” tendency in India’s foreign policy, not traditional balancing or bandwagoning, which is attributed to “strategic autonomy.” From Miller’s point of view, such a tendency is a natural outcome in colonized countries, not just confined to India. The experience of colonialism is seen as traumatizing these countries, causing a national identity shift that puts their right to self-determination in the forefront in policymaking. Miller’s work shows how and in what conditions such an identity shift affects policymaking. The collective trauma of colonization makes a country emphasize victimhood in the international community, and affects decision making, especially when “sovereignty is threatened, non-negotiable borders are at stake, or prestige is on the line.”

A strength of the book is its theoretical framework treating colonialism as an independent variable in analyzing the behavior of colonized countries. Miller argues that colonialization is a “collective trauma,” similar to the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima, or 9/11, which disrupts the social order. It transforms the society as a result of “oppression, humiliation, and violence,” leaving behind a “collective memory” to be carried into subsequent generations by certain voices, not limited to the direct victims. India and China offer a telling example. The social order was disrupted through economic exploitation, institutionalized discrimination, and violence, such as is the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in India and the Nanajing Massacre in China. These become part of the collective memory to be transmitted to the next generations by nationalists through the media and textbooks. As a result, the author argues, “the right to self-determination” became the primary value, which is linked to a national self-definition of victimhood. The author refers to this as part of “post-imperial ideology, or PII.”

The Illusion of Chinese Power


The belief that China is a global power is widespread, understandable, and wrong.
David Shambaugh

June 25, 2014

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM has it that the China juggernaut is unstoppable and that the world must adjust to the reality of the Asian giant as a—perhaps the—major global power. A mini-industry of “China rise” prognosticators has emerged over the past decade, all painting a picture of a twenty-first-century world in which China is a dominant actor. This belief is understandable and widespread—but wrong.

Recall that not so long ago, in the 1980s, similar forecasts were made about Japan being “number one” and joining the elite club of great powers—before it sank into a three-decade stagnation and was shown to be a single-dimensional power (economic) that did not have a broader foundation of national attributes to fall back on. Before that it was the Soviet Union that was said to be a global superpower (an assumption over which the Cold War was waged for a half century), only for it to collapse almost overnight in 1991. The postmortem on the USSR similarly revealed that it had been a largely single-dimensional power (military) that had atrophied from within for decades. In the wake of the Cold War, some pundits posited that the expanded and strengthened European Union would emerge as a new global power and pole in the international system—only for the EU to prove itself impotent and incompetent on a range of global challenges. Europe too was exposed as a single-dimensional power (economic). So, when it comes to China today, a little sobriety and skepticism are justified.

Certainly China is the world’s most important rising power—far exceeding the capacities of India, Brazil and South Africa—and in some categories it has already surpassed the capabilities of other “middle powers” like Russia, Japan, Britain, Germany and France. By many measures, China is now the world’s undisputed second leading power after the United States, and in some categories it has already overtaken America. China possesses many of the trappings of a global power: the world’s largest population, a large continental land mass, the world’s second-largest economy, the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, the world’s second-largest military budget and largest standing armed forces, a manned space program, an aircraft carrier, the world’s largest museum, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, the world’s largest national expressway network and the world’s best high-speed rail system. China is the world’s leading trading nation, the world’s largest consumer of energy, the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter, the world’s second-largest recipient and third-largest originator of foreign direct investment, and the world’s largest producer of many goods.

Capabilities, however, are but one measure of national and international power—and not the most important one. Generations of social scientists have determined that a more significant indicator of power is influence—the ability to shape events and the actions of others. As the late political scientist Robert Dahl famously observed: “A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do.” Capabilities that are not converted into actions toward achieving certain ends are not worth much. Their existence may have an impressive or deterrent effect, but it is the ability to influence the action of another or the outcome of an event that matters. There are, of course, various means by which nations use their capabilities to influence the actions of others and the course of events: attraction, persuasion, co-optation, coercion, remuneration, inducement, or the threat or use of force. Power and its exercise are therefore intrinsically relational: the use of these and other instruments toward others in order to influence a situation to one’s own benefit.

China Is a Different Kind of Global Power

Don’t expect China to become another United States. It’s a good thing that China is just being China. 

Renowned China scholar David Shambaugh published an article in The National Interest, asking a very important question: is China a global power? His conclusion is that China is not a global power, at least not yet. His main argument is that China is still very limited in five important dimensions of global power, i.e., international diplomacy, military capabilities, cultural presence, economic power, and domestic system.

They are many good points in Shambaugh’s argument. For example, he points out that China has been rather reactive and passive in global affairs. This has been true for the last three decades, since China embarked on the “reform and opening” movement in 1978. Deng Xiaoping’s famous doctrine “Keep a low profile” has essentially become China’s grand strategy since then. At times, China’s diplomacy appears clumsy and difficult to make sense of. China is still learning how to present herself in a sophisticated way on the global stage. Shambaugh is particularly right when he says, “China does not lead. It does not shape international diplomacy, drive other nations’ policies, forge global consensus, put together coalitions or solve problems.”

However, his main argument that China is not a global power is flawed for three important reasons. First, in Shambaugh’s article the definition of global power is not always clear. Clearly Shambaugh is using the U.S. as model of global power. But the U.S. is not just a global power, it is a global hegemon in many ways. Indeed, the influence of the U.S. on other states is unprecedented in human history thus rendering it unfair to compare China or any other global power to the United States. In addition, the U.S. was lucky in some sense because World War I and World War II basically destroyed other great powers, thereby simply handing superpower status to the United States. It is impossible for China to become another U.S. for a variety of historical, cultural, and social reasons. In this sense, whether or not China is a global power must be judged upon China’s relationships with many other equal states.

Also, Shambaugh underestimates the significance of material capabilities. Out of five indicators used by Shambaugh to judge China’s status, two of them (military power and economic power) are material factors. The other three, particularly cultural presence, are usually byproducts of material power. One should keep in mind that the U.S. was similarly regarded by the so-called advanced European powers as a backward culture even though its economy became the largest one in the late 19th century. The U.S. then was not a strong military power nor a diplomatic power. So the point here is that it is perfectly normal that a country first becomes an economic power, then a military power, and lastly a cultural power. In sum, one could argue that all other good things, like cultural influence and so on, eventually derive from material capabilities.

Secondly, even if Shambaugh’s definition of global power is correct, he overestimates the utilities of active diplomacy. In other words, active diplomacy might not be a good thing to the global community. Just look at the mess in Iraq right now. Many scholars have rightly pointed out that the current crisis in Iraq has a lot to do with George W. Bush’s decision more than 10 years ago to invade Iraq based on flawed intelligence and ulterior motives. The Bush administration was certainly engaging in active diplomacy, but Iraq and the whole Middle East region would be better off if the U.S. had adopted a quieter and less active approach to Iraq. This is a lesson that proponents of active diplomacy should learn well.

Finally, Shambaugh’s prediction of China’s development is overly pessimistic. Although he is right that people should not be overly optimistic about China’s future and declare China the winner too soon, his analysis of China’s many pressing domestic problems is nothing new. Problems such as income inequality and environmental issues have existed for the past three decades in China and those didn’t stop China’s development.

In 1999, Gerald Segal published a famous article in Foreign Affairs titled “Does China Matter?” which essentially asked the same question Shambaugh tried to answer in his new article. Today virtually nobody would ask the question “does China matter” as China has indisputably become a global power in many dimensions. It is possible that 15 to 20 years from now, scholars and pundits will no long ask the question, “Is China a global power?” Instead, they probably will ask: “How can China do more to contribute to the international society?” Indeed, being a different kind of global power, China has much to offer to the international community just as it has much it can learn from other countries.

The Closing of the Chinese Mind

June 28, 2014 
China’s new ideological control measures are a major strategic blunder. 
Groupthink makes you stupid. That’s a simple insight that eludes authoritarians everywhere. And when the authoritarians get hold of a country, watch out. Yep, the Naval Diplomat is looking at you, China. 

Surrounding yourself with sycophants while crushing freethinkers who might oppose your rule leaves you wearing Saddam Hussein’s shoes — stunned when presented with economic figures contradicting the sunny forecasts issued by yes-men. Or, the great Marshal Zhukov narrowly escaped Josef Stalin’s purges. Nor was Mao Zedong a slouch in the paranoia department. Having talent and ambition was hazardous in the extreme in Maoist China. Peng Dehuai, the great Red Army general, found himself purged. Peng died in prison after suffering through struggle sessions and torture. Countless Chinese shared his fate during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. 

Dumb. Saddam, Stalin, and Mao were no models of statesmanship. By constricting the range of acceptable thought, they made their nations needlessly backward and stupid. Until recent years, though, it appeared as though China might kick its authoritarian habit. Yes, there was the Great Firewall of China. But some of the shackles came off. Debates over Chinese power and purposes in Asia and the world, for example, were remarkably spirited and freewheeling. But it seems thought reform is back with a vengeance under Xi Jinping. 

Consider a few bits of evidence from recent weeks, starting overseas and working back toward China. As John Fitzgerald reports from Down Under, first, Beijing enforces iron control over the content of Chinese-language news programming in Australia. Verboten topics, reports Fitzgerald, include “‘freedom of speech,’ ‘judicial independence,’ ‘civil society,’ ‘civic rights,’ and ‘universal values’ in addition to criticism of the CCP and allusions to its privileged and wealthy leadership.” Talk about staying on message. Or else. 

On these shores, second, the customarily mild-mannered American Association of University Professors called on universities to cut ties with Confucius Institutes unless academic freedom prevails there. That’s not the case at present. Notes the AAUP, “Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom.” Agreements establishing them make “unacceptable concessions to the political aims and practices of the government of China. Specifically, North American universities permit Confucius Institutes to advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.” These cuddly-seeming institutions, in other words, are CCP propaganda mills on American campuses. 

China’s First Trip to RIMPAC

JUNE 26, 2014

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, is taking place from June 26 to August 1, 2014. Twenty-three countries are participating, including the United States, Japan, Australia, and, for the first time, China.

In this Q&A, Chen Qi offers his take on the significance of the exercise and what it means for the region. He explains that the China-U.S. military relationship is marked by distrust, and the exercise could either worsen or improve tensions, depending on how open the two sides are to cooperation. 


The current relationship is marked by mutual distrust and tensions that break out from time to time.

China is seeking to build a new model of major power relationships with the United States. The essence of the new relationship is that the rising power and the established power seek cooperation to prevent and manage large-scale conflict. 


More from this author... 

As Washington and Beijing promote the effort, scholars, officials, and members of the armed forces in both countries believe that the weakest part is their military relationship. Military officials, experts, and even the public agree that there is a deep rift between the two countries in this area. Mutual distrust and doubt over military matters is far more severe than any economic conflict or political confrontation that arises. Political confrontation, for instance, is the result of the two countries’ ideological differences, and both sides are carefully dealing with their differences despite a war of words from time to time. The military relationship is different. 

Tension, confrontation, and distrust over military issues escalated after the September 11, 2001, attack in the United States, but the two sides have made a number of efforts since 2010 to ease tensions. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Sunnylands estate in California in June 2013 to prevent the China-U.S. relationship, especially the military relationship, from deteriorating. It was also during those talks that China decided to accept the U.S. invitation to participate in the 2014 RIMPAC exercise. There have been several rounds of visits by top military officials, including defense ministers. For example, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited China’s naval base near Qingdao in April 2014. 

Isis risks distracting US from more menacing foes

June 25, 2014 3:47 pm

By Francis Fukuyama
Allies America is sworn to defend are threatened elsewhere, writes Francis Fukuyama

For some, it will always be 1939. We are forever telling ourselves how, in the 1930s, the US and Britain underestimated the threat from Germany and Japan, how Winston Churchill alone among western leaders saw the danger and summoned his country to a defence of democracy against the Nazis. The 70 years of American leadership following the second world war were a catalogue of Churchillian moments, from the Berlin airlift to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

There is much truth to this: the US and its allies performed admirably in creating a peaceful and liberal international postwar order in Europe and Asia. But this narrative is highly selective. There were many moments when western leaders believed they were Churchill: the UK’s Anthony Eden in the 1956 Suez crisis, US Presidents Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam and George W Bush in Iraq. They overestimated the threat they faced and made things worse, provoking unnecessary and counterproductive wars, while undermining political support for an internationalist foreign policy.

The focus of today’s debate ought to be: how should we prioritise the threats facing us and how bad are the most serious? This year we have seen a fast-moving sequence of events, from Russia’s annexation of Crimea to China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South and East China seas to the collapse of the Iraqigovernment’s power. Authoritarian forces are on the move.

It is on this point that US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy speech at the West Point military academy in May was wrong-headed. It laid out various abstract criteria for the use of force (actions must be “proportional and effective and just”; where no direct threat to US interests exists, “the threshold formilitary action must be higher”). It is hard to disagree. But he went on to state that the only direct threat weface is terrorism. He said virtually nothing about long-term responses to the two other big challenges to world order: Russia and China. There was great fanfare surrounding the US “pivot” towards Asia – one of the most important initiatives of Mr Obama’s first term – but he did not mention the word once.

A Mistaken Identity: Muslim Radicalism as a Complex Phenomenon

Paper No 5734 Dated 27-Jun-2014

Guest Column By Moorthy S. Muthuswamy Ph.D.(The views expressed are author's own)

If the above premise holds true, the coming years promise a new and potentially fruitful approach to mitigating the threat of ever-growing violent Muslim radicalism.

First, some background.

About a decade ago, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region was the main theatre of violent transnational Islamic radicalism. The phenomenon has spread far and wide, despite the immense efforts of the United States and its allies. First, the AfPak region appears to be all set to revert to its pre-9/11 days; second, militant groups are now operating in vast swaths of territory from the Middle East to North Africa. Moreover, even the Western counties themselves are hardly free from terrorism conducted by resident jihadists. Countries such as India, Israel, China, the Philippines and Thailand that border Muslim nations and have significant Muslim minorities are reeling under increasing attacks by home-grown Muslim radicals.

If these results are any indication, both the experts in the intelligence world who drive policies and in the academia have failed to delineate the dominant causes that drive Muslim radicalism. For instance, terrorism scholar Marc Sageman pointed out in 2013 that “overall, the same stale arguments about ‘how can this [a terrorist incident] happen?’ are debated over and over again—with very little new insight.” This could mean two possibilities: one, that the learned experts have yet to comprehend this phenomenon and two, that the phenomenon itself may be so complex that it is hardly driven by one or two dominant causes.

It appears that most experts in Western intelligence world are being made to focus on short-term projects that put them at a disadvantage in taking a long-view of the phenomenon. Moreover, as Sageman notes, they usually lack a high-end analytical background. However, the experts in academia, typically PhDs in political science, may have a different shortcoming. Recently, questions have been raised about the quality and relevance of academic scholarship, with a well-respected political scientist noting that “[p]olitical science Ph.D.’s often aren’t prepared to do real-world analysis.”

The Underlying Simplicity

While the conventional wisdom holds that the radicalization process is “complex,” I am positing that such a characterization is unwarranted for the following reasons: Violence conduced in the name of Islam is preponderant compared to other religions; almost always, this radicalism invokes sharia and armed jihad; this violence transcends, ethno-cultural, linguistic, geographic and income fault-lines.

Why ISIS Won’t Take Baghdad


The jihadist-led Sunni coalition that’s swept through parts of Syria and northwest Iraq strikes where there’s local support and the least resistance. That’s not the Iraqi capital.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Fighters loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have at times been as close as six miles to Baghdad, according to Iraqi and Kurdish commanders interviewed by The Daily Beast. But the Iraqi capital may well be “a city too far” for this ferocious al-Qaeda offshoot that is determined, as its name says, to establish a state of its own.

While there’s no solid consensus among intelligence analysts in the region about ISIS’s precise strategy, several interviewed in recent days say the jihadists are likely to launch demoralizing commando raids and a suicide bombing blitz in Baghdad, probably timed to coincide with the arrival of the main contingent of US military advisers. (An advance guard arrived Tuesday.)

The Americans presumably will make the defense of the capital a priority, but that may be precisely what ISIS hopes they will do, because it has other interests. “The priority, I think, for ISIS is to build their Islamic State straddling the Syria-Iraq border – that is their ultimate objective—and trying to capture Baghdad would be too big for them to accomplish; it could also sidetrack them,” says a US intelligence official based in the Middle East who is closely monitoring ISIS.

ISIS has not picked difficult battles. It has calculated carefully where it could move with the biggest impact and the least resistance. Mosul was not Stalingrad, holding out against a powerful siege; it was more like Copenhagen in World War II, folding without a fight.

A concerted ISIS campaign to capture Baghdad would no doubt trigger greater military reaction from the Iranians -- key backers of the Shia-dominated government of beleaguered Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – who already have sent members of their Revolutionary Guard and military supplies to bolster Iraqi security forces. The Iranians reportedly are flying surveillance drone flights on behalf of Maliki’s government as well.
ISIS lacks the manpower to hold Baghdad even if it could succeed in storming the capital.

Such attacks as do take place in and around Baghdad will likely aim to sow political discord and fan sectarian divisions, keeping Maliki’s government wrong-footed and on the defensive. Iraqi troops and allied Shia militiamen are holding a line north of Baghdad and trying to establish what army commanders call the Baghdad Belt around the capital. But they are making little headway mounting an offensive, relying on instead on the spotty use of airpower to take the fight into ISIS territory.