24 July 2014


Three memorials, a few books on the Great War, and a forgotten nickname live on to remind Bengalis of World War I, writes Soumitra Das 

The Glorious Dead may as well have been forgotten. Nobody can miss the Cenotaph opposite the All India Radio building and adjacent to the Netaji statue. Across the road, in an island has been erected of late a shoddier monument to policemen. This column in the Maidan unveiled in 1921 by the Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VIII, is simple, dignified and massive, and has often been compared with a Lutyens design. It is almost a replica of the Cenotaph in Whitehall in London. Made of blocks of stone, it resembles dun-coloured exposed brick. It has no ornamentation apart from the two wreaths on either side. Two bronze soldiers with lowered heads stand guard at its approach. They are painted black.

Calcutta Police is in charge of this monument built with public subscription. Saplings have sprouted on top of the monument. Cream groove lines are painted across the wreaths as on the rest of the shaft. It is one of the three monuments erected in three different locations of the city in the first half of the last century in the memory of the thousands of Indians who were killed in the Great War which erupted on July 28.

Bengalis were not among the “martial races” favoured by the British when they recruited sepoys for the battle. Yet, at one time, many middle-class Bengali boys used to be named Palton. Some of them may have been born long after World War I was over, but memories of the Bengal Regiment formed at that time lingered, and even more vivid were the photographs of Kabi Nazrul Islam looking gallant and smart in full military uniform. The “warrior poet” never saw action, but like many young men of his time with romantic notions about war, Nazrul joined the regiment attracted by the posters exhorting youths to join the army.

He was in Class X at the time, and was sent for training for three months to Nowshera in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Nazrul was in the regiment for three years when he started writing both verse and prose and some of his popular songs and ghazals, which were among his first works to be published. He also started taking lessons in Persian and Urdu from a Punjabi maulvi, who was his senior in the regiment. After this perfervid literary, if not martial activity, Nazrul returned home.

Security: A game of knots and crosses

Jul 24, 2014
Inder Malhotra

The present generalist bureaucracy of the ministry of defence, dominated by the IAS babus determined to lord over the military, has become the bane of Indian national security management

On Friday N.N. Vohra, governor of Jammu and Kashmir, delivered a speech in New Delhi that was notable for its lucid analysis of the inextricably interlinked external and internal security problems and a series of sound suggestions about how to meet the grim challenges this country faces.

Before discussing these it is necessary to point out that both the content and quality of his presentation were influenced by two factors. The first was the occasion. Mr Vohra was delivering the first lecture in the memory of Air Commodore (Retd) Jasjit Singh, a 1971 war veteran and unquestionably one of the finest strategic thinkers who headed the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses for long years and later was the founder-director of the Centre for Airpower Studies. Secondly, the J&K governor’s credentials to pronounce on national security are so impressive as to be equalled by few. He has served the country as defence secretary, home secretary and principal secretary to the Prime Minister. All this makes it sad that in the nation’s capital little notice was taken of this event even though the strategic community was present in full force.

Against this backdrop let me take three of Mr Vohra’s most important and pertinent suggestions, beginning with the plea that the Modi government should “swiftly finalise” the formulation of a “holistic” national security policy. This process has already been delayed for too long. The last time a broad review of national security management was undertaken was after the Kargil War in 1999 which Pakistan had planned meticulously but had taken this country by complete surprise. (Incidentally, the memorial lecture was on this war’s 15th anniversary.) Thereafter, a committee, headed by the strategic guru, the late K. Subrahmanyam, had made many useful recommendations. A number of them, but not all, were endorsed by a group of ministers, headed by L.K. Advani. The Atal Behari Vajpayee government accepted all the GoM’s decisions except the critically important one for the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff. This issue hangs fire still. In 2011, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government appointed a Task Force, headed by Naresh Chandra, a former Cabinet secretary and ambassador to the United States, to take a fresh look at the pressing problem of reviewing the national security policy and reforming the structure to implement it.

Searching for the ideal FDI in defence production

Published: July 24, 2014

Surya Gangadharan

NAUTICAL MILES BEHIND: India is a world leader in ship design and building but is poor in electronics, sensors and naval weapons. Picture shows the indigenously developed warship INS Chennai in 2010. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Foreign vendors are more than willing to sell or collaborate but this does not necessarily bring state-of the-art technology to India’s military hardware

When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley kept the FDI cap in defence at 49 per cent, he said: “Our assessment of the market is that the 49 per cent FDI limit in the sector would be a significant step in establishing domestic defence market. The public opinion and Parliament’s opinion in India is ready to accept the proposal that I have made.”

Mr. Jaitley was also in consonance with the policy sentiment that has evolved within the government over many years. As far back as in 2004, key economists argued before the Planning Commission that 100 per cent FDI in high technology would enable India to reduce or limit its technology imports; in 2008, the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council constituted by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recommended FDI to facilitate technology transfer and enhance manufacturing in strategic sectors like aerospace; four years back, the Commerce Ministry had recommended 74 per cent FDI (a recommendation that remains despite the exit of the United Progressive Alliance government). But former Defence Minister A.K. Antony had vetoed this, deeming it “politically unwise.”

Opposition from industry

With elections in key States set to take place later this year, it would appear that Mr. Jaitley also preferred to play cautious. The chorus of opposition from key industry bodies like Confederation of Indian Industry (which supported a liberal FDI cap only to back down later), and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry would have helped Mr. Jaitley in his decision. FICCI, seen as the “embodiment of the 1960s era state protection”, warned that Indian industry would lose out, foreign companies would dominate the sensitive and highly strategic defence market, and no significant technology transfer would take place. It even brought out a laundry list detailing its views on defence FDI. It said a higher FDI should lead to full platforms being produced with minimum capitalisation of $100 million; the proprietary technology can be indigenised and further developed; the foreign partner will undertake to source 50 per cent to 70 per cent of components/subsystems by value from Indian vendors; the technology received should come without restrictions on its global exploitation and; no retrospective law should be applicable to restrict technology exploitation.

Knowing India’s nuclear credentials

Published: July 24, 2014

Samir SaranAbhijit Iyer-Mitra

The civil nuclear deal, hinged on one clear principle that India’s military programme would irrevocably be separated from the civilian one, was based on arriving at an outcome that would benefit all parties and enhance the global order. Picture shows the Jaitapur nuclear power project site. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Manufactured Western outrage ignores the reality that under the landmark 2005 India-U.S. agreement, the IAEA has unprecedented access to Indian nuclear facilities

There has been a concerted attack on India from the usual suspects in recent days even as it was entering into negotiations to formally accede to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. As if on cue, Jane’s Intelligence Review carried out a “(non)-exposé” of an Indian military nuclear facility in Karnataka. As exposés go, it was lame even by Jane’s standards. The nature of the facility and location have been publicly available since 2010. Yet, this new “exposé” was carried by all mainstream print news outlets and predictably sensationalised with everyone feigning alarm and anxiety. This manufactured outrage culminated with a sanctimonious editorial in The New York Times that was remarkable for the sheer incoherence of its own arguments. As the designated chief of the non-proliferation ayatollahs (with blinkers) and representative of a motley anti-India group in the U.S. that is shrinking ever so rapidly, this too was on expected lines.

Assault on credentials

Nevertheless, it is important to dismantle the uneasy arguments of this concerted assault on India’s credentials. The first proposition that must be taken issue with is the propagation of a falsehood that Pakistan and its reckless build-up of nuclear stockpile is somehow driven by India’s posture. While Pakistan’s careless impulse may be a result of more than one central factor, it is important to understand that this may have a lot to do with its suspicion of American intentions. The oft-quoted argument is that Pakistan seeks to equalise the conventional mismatch with India through a misguided reliance on numbers of strategic and tactical warheads. The irrationality and illogic of this behaviour has been proven by the fact that a country like North Korea has deterred both the U.S. and South Korea with explosions that may not even have been nuclear. Pakistan’s vertical proliferation has no mooring to India’s strategic programme — only to its own paranoia. The question is what fuels this? There is no denying the fact that Pakistan was able to obtain “nuclear immunity” for its sub-conventional activities against India with even 10 warheads. It may well be the fear of the U.S. that motivates its build-up today.

New Delhi is already providing support to FMCT negotiation; its signature on the CTBT is linked to similar commitments by the U.S. and China

If the generals have changed their mind


Husain Haqqani | July 23, 2014

To be credible, their promise to fight terrorism will need to be accompanied by a realignment of Pakistani nationalism.

Last month, the Pakistan army launched what it describes as a major military offensive against the jihadi terrorist safe haven in North Waziristan. Senior generals and the civilian defence minister insist that this time Pakistan will go after all militant groups, including fighters who target neighbouring Afghanistan and have, in the past, been deemed Pakistan’s strategic assets.

Accompanied by much media discussion of “Operation Zarb-e-Azb”, the Pakistani army has fought many battles over the last few weeks, killed several terrorists and lost some soldiers. The offensive has also caused a huge humanitarian crisis as more than half a million people have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), leaving villages that were being shelled by artillery or pounded from the skies by F-16 aircraft.

But most foreign observers and many knowledgeable Pakistani commentators remain sceptical about the extent to which Pakistan’s generals have truly changed their minds about jihadi militias as an instrument of state policy. The Pakistani military, the critics say, is only eliminating extremist groups that have started targeting Pakistan and Pakistanis. Anti-India jihadis, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), continue to flourish with Hafiz Mohamed Saeed and his cohorts parading openly in major cities like Lahore.

According to the naysayers, the military operation will target hardline Uzbeks, Chechens and footsoldiers of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have claimed responsibility for the recent assault on Karachi International Airport. Groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban have already been directed or pushed across the Pakistan-Afghan border (the Durand Line) so that they can resume operations once NATO forces leave Afghanistan.

The Pakistani establishment has responded to its critics with a public relations offensive. In a conversation with Indian journalist Aakar Patel, a retired ISI general even made the argument that the sharp spike in violence in Pakistan over the last decade was the result of the Pakistan “military’s decision to crack down on terror groups operating against India.”

According to Patel, “The ISI general said that the thinking in India appeared to them to be that of satisfaction at the situation Pakistan found itself in. ‘Let them stew in their own juice’ and ‘You created the problem, now you suffer the consequences’ were some of the phrases he used to describe what he thought the Indian attitude was.” The Indian journalist was also informed of “limitations of the state with respect to the LeT and Hafiz Saeed in particular,” but he was also told that “this must not be seen as encouraging the group.”

Avro-replacement Programme – Out of Turbulence?

July 23, 2014

One of the landmark decisions taken by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in its first meeting held on 19th July 2014 under the stewardship of the new Defence Minister was to put the troubled Avro-replacement programme of the Indian Air Force back on the tarmac.

The Indian Air Force must be rueing the day it agreed to tweak the proposed categorization of the proposal from Buy (Global) to Buy and Make. Since then the programme has been through a lot of turbulence.

Buy and Make cases require the Indian Production Agency (IPA) to be approved by DAC. Though the IPA can be from the public or the private sector, in practice DAC somehow normally always ends up nominating one defence public sector undertaking (DPSU) or the other as the IPA.

The Avro-replacement programme was to be different in that perhaps for the first time the private sector was to be permitted to enter the aircraft manufacturing sector. But the Ministry of Defence (MoD) found it difficult to recommend a private sector IPA to DAC for approval. This is when it was decided that the foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will be permitted to select the IPA. 

After several ups and downs and examination of the proposal by two committees, the programme was cleared by DAC. The turbulent journey of the proposal from the time it was initiated to the time DAC accorded the AoN (approval of necessity) was by no means a cakewalk but what happened thereafter takes the cake.

First, the Indian companies, who stand to gain the most, started having doubts about the viability of the proposal and then a missive from a senior minister almost put paid to the dream by questioning his own government’s decision to keep the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) out of the race.

The significance of the decision taken in DAC’s meeting of 19th July meeting lies in the fact that it has revived that dream by allowing the process to resume from where it was suspended in October last year following the missive. The last date for submission of bids is reported to have been now extended to August 28, 2014. Hopefully, the programme will have a smooth voyage from here onward.

While the vicissitude of this programme could largely be on account of its being the first of its kind in terms of the procedure to be followed for selection of the IPA, there are many lessons to be learnt from its history.

First, it is quite clear that innovative ways will have to be found if we have to hasten the process of strengthening the domestic defence industrial base. The decision to let the Avro-replacement programme go to the private sector and the IPA be selected by the OEM were two innovative features of this programme. Suitable provision needs to be made in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) for such innovative steps being taken without these being seen as ‘deviations’ from the prescribed procedure.

This will also require greater boldness on the part of the officials in their individual capacity and as members of various committees through which the procurement proposals are routed before they reach the DAC in taking decision on programme-specific requirements which will obviously not be run-of-the-mill procedural issues.

Al Qaeda renews its oath of allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar

July 21, 2014

Al Qaeda renews its oath of allegiance to Taliban emir Mullah Omar in its new online publication, Al Nafir. 

Al Qaeda published the first edition of a new online bulletin, "Al Nafir" (meaning "call to arms" or "call to mobilize"), on July 20. And the organization uses the inaugural issue to publicly renew its oath of allegiance to Taliban emir Mullah Omar.

"The first edition begins by renewing the pledge of allegiance to [the] Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid, may Allah preserve him, and confirming that al Qaeda and its branches everywhere are soldiers among his soldiers," the newsletter reads, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. Al Qaeda goes on to say that it is fighting "under his victorious banner" to restore control over a broad swath of territory "to the coming State of the Caliphate."

Although Al Nafir was just released online by As Sahab, al Qaeda's propaganda arm, the first edition's publication date indicates that it was produced in April or May. Its release at this time is undoubtedly connected to the Islamic State's declaration in late June that it now rules over a supposed caliphate. The Islamic State is an al Qaeda offshoot that has been openly at odds with al Qaeda for more than one year.

As part of its announcement, the Islamic State said that all other jihadist groups, and even all Muslims, owe Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (now called "Caliph Ibrahim") their loyalty. This was a direct attempt to usurp the authority of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and could be read as a challenge to all other senior jihadists around the globe as well.

The Islamic State controls a significant amount of territory in both Iraq and Syria. And because of the group's recent territorial gains, Baghdadi's attempted power grab has forced al Qaeda to respond with an explanation of how it believes the jihadists' world is organized. Baghdadi's claims have caused significant problems for al Qaeda's senior leadership, which does not claim to directly control any territory. Al Qaeda's regional branches in the Middle East and Africa do control turf, but none of them is organized as an officially sanctioned Islamic state.

Although both Baghdadi and Mullah Omar have now been called "Emir of the Believers," only Baghdadi has claimed to rule over an all-encompassing caliphate. Mullah Omar's organization calls itself the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," meaning that it is considered a regional state, and not a caliphate. The Taliban still gives itself this name even though it does not control much of Afghanistan.

Leading jihadist ideologues, such as Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, have pointed this out in their critiques of Baghdadi's group. Maqdisi has noted that the Taliban never claimed that it was owed the allegiance of Muslims everywhere, as the Islamic State now does.

Al Qaeda also uses the new publication to portray itself as being committed to defending and leading predominately Muslim countries everywhere. (In reality, most of the victims of al Qaeda's violence are Muslims.)

Pakistan: Right War, Wrong Battlefield

JULY 21, 2014 

Five months after Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced that the government was giving the failed talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) "another chance," the Pakistani Army launched an offensive "against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan," calling it Operation Zarb-e-Azb(meaning "sharp strike;" the operation was named after a sword used by Prophet Muhammad). Despite publicly attempting to negotiate with the militants, Pakistan continued to suffer tremendously from attacks mounted against it. With public opinion shifting in its favor, the Army was itching to take action, but Sharif, who has traditionally appeased the religious right and feared backlash in his urban stronghold of Punjab province, weighed the odds and hesitated to approve any such operation.

Perhaps, what finally dissolved any prospect of peace talks and forced the government to seriously consider a military operation was the brazenattack on the Karachi International Airport on June 8, which not only brought to the fore the international militant network, but also revealed the depths to which the militants had infiltrated urban centers far from their base in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Though successfully quelled by security forces, the militants' capabilities to conduct sophisticated, complex attacks that have the potential to generate mammoth casualties is a worrying sign for a country that, until the attack on the airport, was dithering in its decision on how to respond.

With aerial strikes launched on June 15 and a ground offensive mounted some two weeks later, the Directorate of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) claims that more than 400 militants have been killed, with zero collateral damage; however, that information is difficult to verify in a region that is closed off to independent journalists and the only source for such data remains the military. North Waziristan has long been known as the hub of international militancy with fighters who trace linksnot only to the TTP, al Qaeda, and the Haqqani Network, but also those who belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, isolated Chechens, and Chinese Uighur militants of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, amongst others.

In a rare showing, Pakistan also announced that its offensive will target"terrorists of all hue and color," including the Haqqani Network -- a drastic shift from its policy of distinguishing between the ‘good Taliban,' i.e. those considered a strategic asset in Afghanistan and against India, and the ‘bad Taliban,' i.e. those who have turned against the Pakistani state. After gaining control of Miran Shah (the main town in North Waziristan), the Army is now entering Mir Ali. Yet, the failure of the peace talks, the delay in launching the operation, and the low resiliency that the troops have encountered has led many to believe that the insurgents had ample time to flee into neighboring Afghanistan or other parts of Pakistan.

This raises serious questions not only about the effectiveness of such an operation, but also whether the militants had been given an early warning. Militants have successfully infiltrated urban centers, such asKarachi, one-third of which is now controlled by the Taliban. Blending into the local population, recruiting fighters, and propagating their ideology, these groups pose an even more imminent threat to the state as they become more difficult to identify.

The real solution then is not fighting a war in North Waziristan, eliminating command and control centers, or banishing terrorists from the state. Pakistan's real war is more long-term and is on an entirely different battlefield.

While terrorists may be eliminated, their rigid ideology, which rejects Pakistan's Constitution and aims to establish an orthodox interpretation of Sharia law, will continue to flourish and find root in young, impressionable minds. The TTP has never measured its strength or success by the landmass it occupied, but rather by its high recruiting rate and penetrating ideology.

While the Pakistani Army has been fighting terrorism on the war front, the government has been criticized for not playing its part in coordinating intelligence and law-enforcement bodies, along with the paramilitary Rangers and the police force, in rooting out militants in urban centers and supporting the larger military offensive.

The state also seems to be forgetting that it has a far more important duty to fulfill: that of creating a clear, national narrative on militancy and terrorism. The ambitious National Internal Security Policy (NISP) aimed to do just that and more by reforming close to 23,000 madrassas and bringing the 26 intelligence agencies under one umbrella. Though its implementation was long anticipated, the NISP today remains dormant, and a clear counterterrorism policy is absent. The government's inability to make decisions on matters of national security and mobilize institutions before the launch of the operation to address security and humanitarian challenges has complicated the situation and endangered the military operation.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb, for all its success, is not going to prevent militants from re-grouping in the future -- whether in Pakistan or anywhere else -- and they will continue to rally their supporters. Both the state and the militants draw their legitimacy from the roots of religion, which is increasingly problematic in a country that is largely conservative and where religion has often been utilized for political manipulation. The extremist ideology depends wholly on exploiting religion to create a narrative of an ‘anti-Islamic' Pakistan, with militants justifying their actions as a response to ‘un-Islamic' attacks from the state.


July 22, 2014

Carlotta Gall, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

When the United States decided to launch Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, it seeded the ground for its certain failure when it made Pakistan its partner in the conflict. Of all countries in the region, Pakistan was the most opposed to the very goals that the United States sought to achieve in Afghanistan.

After all, Pakistan had been using non-state actors as tools of foreign policy since 1947. However, as Pakistan’s nuclear program advanced, Pakistan became ever more brazen in using an increasingly lethal menagerie of Islamist militants in India and Afghanistan. At the time of the invasion, only three countries recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

While Pakistanis are fond of repeating the canard that “America made the Taliban,” and cite a highly stylized version of U.S.-Pakistan relations under Muhammad Zia ul Haq’s regime, in fact, Pakistan’s Afghan jihad policy began under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974 after Mohammad Daoud Khan ousted King Mohammed Zahir Shah and began implementing a Soviet Union-backed secularization campaign. As Daoud violently cracked down on the Islamist opposition, many fled to Iran and to Pakistan. Bhutto set up the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Afghanistan cell to work with these Islamists. After a brief interregnum, Zia ul Haq continued with this policy after seizing power in a coup in 1977. The main jihadi groups were formed long before the Soviets rolled across the Amu Darya.

Notably, under President Jimmy Carter, the United States was unmoved by the developments in Afghanistan. Zia ul Haq had repeatedly requested U.S. support, but the United States demurred. In fact, the Carter administration sanctioned Pakistan in April 1979 for progress made in its nuclear weapons program. These sanctions complicated eventual U.S. efforts to work with Pakistan after President Ronald Reagan came into office and embraced Zia ul Haq’s jihad with gusto and dollars.

After the Soviets withdrew, so did the United States. In 1990, the United States re-employed sanctions that had been waived since 1979. However, Pakistan continued to interfere in Afghanistan. First, it sought to back the Pashtun Islamist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as the mujahidin-cum-warlords fought over Afghanistan’s post-Soviet carcass. Then in 1994 — under the watch of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto — Pakistan’s intelligence agency threw its weight behind a new force: the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistanis had hoped that the Taliban would act on Pakistan’s behalf but were disappointed in many respects. However, the Taliban did onething for Pakistan: it restricted the presence of the Indians to the north.

Handing the Keys of Kabul to the Indians

When the Americans invaded Afghanistan, it did so with a handful of special operators carrying cash. They partnered with the remnants of the Northern Alliance, which was somewhat hampered by the loss of Ahmad Shah Masoud, whom al Qaeda killed the day before the 9/11 attacks. Even though Pakistan was adamant that the Northern Alliance not take Kabul, the Americans were not in a position to prevent it from doing so.


July 21, 2014

Because an indefinite deterioration in U.S.-China relations would have such serious consequences for global order, policymakers and analysts in both countries are keen to develop a high-level framework that can prevent their competition from devolving into hostility. Earlier this year the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation published a major report—based on a high-level track II dialogue in Beijing last September—that justifies that pursuit. A CAP paper in the report explains that “[u]ntil the United States and China develop a shared vision for where they want the relationship to go, it is difficult to determine what mutually beneficial policy steps they should take now.” Another paper in the report, this one by three scholars at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, concludes that if they can

converge on some basic understanding of…the principles governing the global and regional order in transition, and on the responsibility each side should take during this transition, it would be relatively easier for Beijing and Washington to explore the cooperative areas and specific roadmap for policy collaboration between themselves.

This mutual search for a framework—whether one characterizes it as a “shared vision” or “basic understanding”—reflects the U.S.-China relationship’s exceptional importance: it is central to global order not only because they have the two largest economies and defense budgets, but also because their cooperation is essential to meeting the challenges of our time. The search also highlights the absence of an organic basis for building ties:

— The United States is less than 250 years old; China’s history spans millennia.

— The United States is undergoing demographic shifts that could render non-Hispanic whites a minority by 2050; China remains about 90% Han.

— The United States has two friendly neighbors and two security buffers (the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans); China has 14 neighbors, some of which are unstable, and most of which are concerned about its strategic intentions.

— The United States generally believes in the universality of liberal values and pursues a foreign policy that attempts to spread them; China also believes in the strength of its values, but it rejects their promotion as a form of interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

— The United States seeks to entrench today’s liberal international system; China asks why it should be beholden to a system it played little role in designing.

— Neither the United States nor China has any experience sustaining global order in partnership with another country.

Without a natural foundation for their relationship, the United States and China have had little choice thus far but to manage their dealings on an ad hoc basis and hope that these accumulated improvisations will reveal a concept in due course. There is much to recommend this approach, and as James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon argue persuasively in their new book, the potential dividends from creative, concerted incrementalism are far from exhausted. The trouble, as Kenneth Lieberthal and Wang Jisi explained in an influential March 2012study, is that strategic distrust between the United States and China is growing more rapidly than the countries’ ability to improvise.

South China Sea: China’s Unfolding Strategic Blueprint for Full-Spectrum Dominance

By Dr Subhash Kapila

(Observations made at Round Table Conference at Danang, Vietnam May 20 2014 by Dr Subhash Kapila following the International Workshop on May 19 2014.)

South China Sea has emerged as an explosive regional and global flashpoint endangering the security and stability of the wider Indo Pacific region. This arises mainly from China’s propensity to use force to settle territorial disputes.

Paracel Islands under full military occupation of China and Spratlys Islands under partial military occupation of China coupled with greater maritime operational cruises in South China Sea by Chinese PLA Navy including its Aircraft Carrier are evidence of China’s unfolding strategy of expanded maritime dominance of this crucial Sea.

China has displayed no indicators to suggest conflict de-escalation or conflict-resolution in the South China Sea disputes with its ASEAN neighbours.

On the contrary, the May 2014 incidents of China placing its oil-drilling rigs in South China Sea in Vietnamese EEZ and its ongoing engineering efforts to create new ‘artificial islands’ in proximity of Philippines holdings in Spratly Islands pointedly highlight that China is unfolding a new strategic blueprint in the South China Sea in which de-escalation of conflict or conflict resolution is not on China’s agenda. China’s ‘island grabbing’ in the South China Sea now seems to be replaced by a new aggressive policy of creating ‘artificial islands’ not only for wider EEZ claims but also to be fortified to facilitate greater military control of this strategic maritime expanse.

China’s Unfolding Strategic Blueprint in the South China Sea: Full-Spectrum Dominance

China’s unfolding strategic blueprint in the South China Sea needs to be viewed from the prism of China adding military muscle to its Nine Dash Claim Line which virtually encompasses the whole of South China Sea and also beefing-up and operationalising Chinese PLA Navy maritime strengths to add military muscle to China’s declaration of South China Sea as China’s ‘Core National Interest ‘to be defended by even going to war.

China with such enhanced militarisation of its intentions betrays the following military aims in the South China Sea: 
Full-Spectrum Dominance of South China Sea by China to be achieved as an imperative for China’s offensive and defensive strategies. 
In the overall end-game China would like to transform the South China Sea into “China’s Inland Sea”. 

China declared an ADIZ over international waters of the East China Sea in a bid to checkmate Japan over the Senkaku Islands dispute.

China in a bid to achieve ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ over the South China Sea can logically be expected to declare a similar ADIZ over the international waters of the South China Sea.

Stumbling in Xinjiang

Col R Hariharan, 
June 30, 2014

There are clear indications that the Chinese are stumbling in their effort to crush the Uighur struggle against the Han Chinese domination in Xinjiang. The scrupulous semantics used by Chinese state-controlled media describe them as terrorists though the attacks lack the sophistication of modern day terrorism. It has not helped to cover up the Chinese failure to give confidence to the restive “minority” Uighurs who form a majority in Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China’s Northwest.

The way the Chinese have handled the “terror” carried out in Beijing in October 2013 is a case in point to understand all that is wrong with Chinese appraoch to tackling terrorism.

The “terror attack” occurred when Usman Ahmet, a Uighur driving a jeep ploughed into a crowd of people near the Tienanmen Square in Beijing on October 28, 2013 killing three people and injuring 39 others. The driver and his mother and wife who were in the jeep also died on the spot. According to initial report, some eyewitnesses said the jeep was being chased by someone; it was probably trying to get away from the pursuer.

The three Uighurs facing death row were found guilty of “leading a terrorist group and endangering public security.” Along with the driver of the fatal vehicle, they had “looked for guns and explosives in different places, watched terrorism videos and jointly planned terrorist acts such as blasts and killings in Beijing.”

Two others were sentenced to life and 20 years in jail respectively for guilty of “participating in a terrorist group and endangering public security. Three more Uighurs were sentenced to five to 10 years imprisonment for “participating in a terrorist group.”

The Beijing attack was not as deadly as the explosive attack carried out in Urumqi market on May 22, 2014. Thirty nine civilians were killed and 94 others injured in the attack. But the Beijing attack typifies the Chinese way of handling separatist extremism that goes by the name of terrorism in China.

It also shows the increasingly innovative ways in which Uighur separatists had taken their “operations’ beyond the confines of Xinjiang and in this case to the national capital.

There is a problem with Chinese approach to unconventional warfare. In India where semantic niceties dominate the thought process on COIN, “extremism”, “militancy”, “insurgency” and “terrorism” often indicate how the state authority would like to handle the threat. However, to be fair to the Chinese, the fine line separating various types of anti-state violence is getting increasingly subsumed thanks to rise and spread of Jihadi terrorism worldwide.

But, by branding all acts of violence against the state as terrorism, the state response becomes heavy handed resulting in further alienation of the population. It also increases the dependence upon military strategies rather than evolving a holistic strategy to address political, sociological and economic issues that add substance to the Cause of separatism.

This is what appears to be happening in Xinjiang. The statistics on terrorist attacks from the years 2009 to date published in the Global Times is revealing. This year so far the Chinese have attributed six incidents to the Uighur terrorists in the first six months as against seven in 2013 and two, three and one respectively in the years 2012, 2011 and 2009. This confirms the Chinese fear that after 2009 Uighur separatism is once again gathering mass to stage a comeback.

There was no incident in 2010 presumably because of the strong military crackdown after the anti Chinese riots that rocked Urumqi in July 2009. Casualties in the riots were heavy – 197 people killed and 1700 others injured while 633 houses and 627 vehicles were damaged.

The style of operations and weaponry used now indicate Uighur separatism is yet to articulate itself powerfully to become a terrorist movement. Some of the acts like the Beijing jeep “attack” where a whole family perished, look more like an act of desperation than a suicide attack of the Jihadi kind. It also underlines the continuing determination of some in Uighur society to assert their will against the powerful and insensitive state machinery in spite of all odds.

Hiding in Pakistan, Al Qaeda’s Aging Leaders Losing Power and Influence to New Generation of More Successful and Violent Militant Groups in Iraq and Syria

Young Islamic State Robs Al Qaeda of Militant Prestige

Reuters, July 23, 2014

DUBAI — In hiding, targeted by drone strikes and unable to land a blow in the West, al Qaeda’s ageing leaders are losing a power struggle with ultra-radical young militants in Iraq and Syria who see themselves as the true successors to Osama bin Laden.

The shadowy network that targeted the West and its Arab allies for almost a generation is increasingly seen as stale, tired and ineffectual on the hardcore jihadi social media forums and Twitter accounts that incubate potential militant recruits.

Western officials insist the network is still a top threat, in part because turmoil in Arab states gives it scope to organize: Its affiliates in Syria and Yemen include experienced guerrillas and expert bomb makers.

But many young Islamists who were of school age at the time of the Sept. 11 2001 attacks on the United States now look for inspiration not to al Qaeda, whose leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, is in his mid-60s, but to a Sunni Muslim group styling itself a caliphate.

Supporters of the so-called Islamic State admire its sectarian attacks on Shi’ites in Iraq and government forces in Syria, confident such violence is part of a broader war with the West advocated by bin Laden, killed by U.S. troops in 2011.

The generational divide opening up in radical Islamist ranks threatens to topple al Qaeda from its primacy in trans national militancy, a stunning loss of prestige for a group whose hijacked plane attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in New York’s World Trade Center, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The Islamic State, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) until the June 29 declaration of the caliphate, has galvanized young followers by carving out swathes of territory in Iraq in a rapid advance last month.

U.S. intelligence agencies estimate around 7,000 of the 23,000 violent extremists operating in neighboring Syria are foreign fighters, mostly from Europe. Diplomats in the region say many of these foreigners are fighting for the Islamic State, which also deploys them Iraq.


The group, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calls himself a “Caliph” or head of state, fell out with al Qaeda in 2013 over its expansion into Syria, where his followers have carried out beheadings, crucifixions, and mass executions.

Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Jeremy R. Hammond
June 17, 2010

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

After major violence again erupted in 1929, the British Shaw Commission report noted that “In less than 10 years three serious attacks have been made by Arabs on Jews. For 80 years before the first of these attacks there is no recorded instance of any similar incidents.” Representatives from all sides of the emerging conflict testified to the commission that prior to the First World War, “the Jews and Arabs lived side by side if not in amity, at least with tolerance, a quality which today is almost unknown in Palestine.” The problem was that “The Arab people of Palestine are today united in their demand for representative government”, but were being denied that right by the Zionists and their British benefactors.

The British Hope-Simpson report of 1930 similarly noted that Jewish residents of non-Zionist communities in Palestine enjoyed friendship with their Arab neighbors. “It is quite a common sight to see an Arab sitting in the verandah of a Jewish house”, the report noted. “The position is entirely different in the Zionist colonies.”

Myth #2 – The United Nations created Israel.

The U.N. became involved when the British sought to wash its hands of the volatile situation its policies had helped to create, and to extricate itself from Palestine. To that end, they requested that the U.N. take up the matter.

As a result, a U.N. Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created to examine the issue and offer its recommendation on how to resolve the conflict. UNSCOP contained no representatives from any Arab country and in the end issued a report that explicitly rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. Rejecting the democratic solution to the conflict, UNSCOP instead proposed that Palestine be partitioned into two states: one Arab and one Jewish.

The U.N. General Assembly endorsed UNSCOP’s in its Resolution 181. It is often claimed that this resolution “partitioned” Palestine, or that it provided Zionist leaders with a legal mandate for their subsequent declaration of the existence of the state of Israel, or some other similar variation on the theme. All such claims are absolutely false.

Resolution 181 merely endorsed UNSCOP’s report and conclusions as a recommendation. Needless to say, for Palestine to have been officially partitioned, this recommendation would have had to have been accepted by both Jews and Arabs, which it was not.

ISIS Robs Christians Fleeing Its Edict in Mosul: Convert, Leave, or Die


The last Christians have left one of their holiest cities, running from ISIS demands to become Muslim or be slain—but as a final indignity, their money and even crucifixes were stolen. 

After being issued an ultimatum from ISIS in Mosul, some of the city’s last Christian families have fled, only to be robbed of their last possessions at ISIS checkpoints. Friday at noon was the deadline for Christian families to meet ISIS’s demands: Convert to Islam, pay an anachronistic Islamic tax for non-Muslims known as jizya, leave Mosul, or be killed. But the day before the final exodus, Christians were informed jizya was no longer an option. The order came to convert, leave, or die. 

Gathered along an unlit street on the edge of Hamdaniyah, a majority Christian town on the outskirts of Mosul, large, well-dressed families of refugees from Mosul shared their stories in their only remaining set of clothes, trying to make sense of what had happened. According to the Iraq-based Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, whose field office was receiving internal refugees in Hamdaniyah, 1,500 Christian families have fled Mosul in the last four days. They were the last of the last

Those families leaving from the checkpoints on the eastern side of the city were harassed and robbed of their possessions but ultimately allowed to leave Mosul with only the clothes on their backs and possibly cab fare. All families who fled on the last morning reported having money, belongings, jewelry, and even documents stolen from them. Women had crucifixes torn from their necks. 

Those who were received by aid organizations in neighboring Hamdaniyah, Bartella, and elsewhere were despondent and in a state of shock when they arrived at shelters for refugees. Most had been assured by ISIS fighters during the first week after the takeover that their communities would be protected, as ISIS’s animosity initially was directed toward the city’s Shia. But all that changed in the past week. 

The New Thirty Years’ War

NEW YORK – It is a region wracked by religious struggle between competing traditions of the faith. But the conflict is also between militants and moderates, fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence. Conflicts take place within and between states; civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish. Governments often forfeit control to smaller groups – militias and the like – operating within and across borders. The loss of life is devastating, and millions are rendered homeless.

That could be a description of today’s Middle East. In fact, it describes Europe in the first half of the seventeenth century.

In the Middle East in 2011, change came after a humiliated Tunisian fruit vendor set himself alight in protest; in a matter of weeks, the region was aflame. In seventeenth-century Europe, a local religious uprising by Bohemian Protestants against the Catholic Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II triggered that era’s conflagration.

Protestants and Catholics alike turned for support to their co-religionists within the territories that would one day become Germany. Many of the era’s major powers, including Spain, France, Sweden, and Austria, were drawn in. The result was the Thirty Years’ War, the most violent and destructive episode in European history until the two world wars of the twentieth century.

There are obvious differences between the events of 1618-1648 in Europe and those of 2011-2014 in the Middle East. But the similarities are many – and sobering. Three and a half years after the dawn of the “Arab Spring,” there is a real possibility that we are witnessing the early phase of a prolonged, costly, and deadly struggle; as bad as things are, they could well become worse.

The region is ripe for unrest. Most of its people are politically impotent and poor in terms of both wealth and prospects. Islam never experienced something akin to the Reformation in Europe; the lines between the sacred and the secular are unclear and contested.

Moreover, national identities often compete with – and are increasingly overwhelmed by – those stemming from religion, sect, and tribe. Civil society is weak. In some countries, the presence of oil and gas discourages the emergence of a diversified economy and, with it, a middle class. Education emphasizes rote learning over critical thinking. In many cases, authoritarian rulers lack legitimacy.

Outside actors, by what they did and failed to do, added fuel to the fire. The 2003 Iraq war was highly consequential, for it exacerbated Sunni-Shia tensions in one of the region’s most important countries and, as a result, in many of the region’s other divided societies. Regime change in Libya has created a failing state; lukewarm support for regime change in Syria has set the stage for prolonged civil war.

The region’s trajectory is worrisome: weak states unable to police their territory; the few relatively strong states competing for primacy; militias and terrorist groups gaining greater influence; and the erasure of borders. The local political culture confuses democracy with majoritarianism, with elections used as vehicles to consolidate power, not share it.

In Full Control of Northern Iraq, ISIS Is Now Estimated to Have As Many as 20,000 Fighters

July 22, 2014

Islamic State Crushes and Coerces on March Towards Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Using its own version of “soft” and “hard” power, the Islamic State is crushing resistance across northern Iraq so successfully that its promise to march on Baghdad may no longer be unrealistic bravado.

While conventional states try to win hearts and minds abroad before necessarily resorting to military force, the jihadist group is also achieving its aims by psychological means - backed up by a reputation for extreme violence.

The Islamic State, which in June captured a vast stretch of territory in the north including the largest city Mosul, used this strategy when its fighters met armed resistance from the town of al-Alam for 13 days running.

They kidnapped 30 local families and rang up the town’s most influential citizens with a simple message about the hostages: “You know their destiny if you don’t let us take over the town.”

Within hours, tribesmen and local leaders caved in to save the families. The black flag of the Sunni militants, who are bent on overthrowing the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government, was soon flying over government buildings and police stations in al-Alam.

Weeks later, only a few masked gunmen guard checkpoints surrounding al-Alam at night, so comfortable is the Islamic State in its control through fear.

"One hundred percent of people are angry that the Islamic State is here but there is nothing we can do," said a scared resident who spoke by telephone on condition of anonymity.

Similar accounts of victories by the Islamic State, which has also seized territory in neighboring Syria during the civil war there, are repeated across other towns and villages in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad.

Hostility to the jihadis in some of the majority Sunni areas - where from 2006 to 2008 local people fought al Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State’s predecessor - has not stopped them from taking and holding territory.

Breaking the will of local populations has allowed the relatively small force to surge south, focusing their fight most recently on battlefields just 70 km (45 miles) from Baghdad.

The fighters have boosted their arms and equipment along the way, making the seizure of weapons and vehicles a condition of deals struck with communities they have coerced into submission.


U.S. military and Iraqi security officials estimate the Islamic State has at least 3,000 fighters in Iraq, rising towards 20,000 when new recruits since last month’s blitzkrieg are included.

Some Sunni communities still refuse to make common cause with the Islamist hardliners. But anger with Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government has encouraged some Sunni armed groups to stick with the Islamic State since they seized Mosul on June 10, according to officials and tribal leaders.

What We Know Now About the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Evidence on the Malaysian Airliner Shootdown

U.S. discloses intelligence on downing of Malaysian jet

Greg Miller

Washington Post, July 23, 2014

The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials cited sensors that traced the path of the missile, shrapnel markings on the downed aircraft, voiceprint analysis of separatists claiming credit for the strike, and a flood of photos and other data from social-media sites.

The officials also for the first time identified a sprawling Russian military installation near the city of Rostov as the main conduit of Russian support to separatists in Ukraine, describing it as a hub of training and weapons that has expanded dramatically over the past month. The officials said that tanks, rocket launchers and other arms have continued to flow into Ukraine even after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298 civilians.

Analysts at the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies are continuing to examine information about the crash, but the officials said the intelligence assembled in the five days since the attack points overwhelmingly to Russian-backed separatists in territory they control in eastern Ukraine.

The senior intelligence officials said they have ruled out the possibility that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attack.

Intelligence documents show the location of the downed jet. (U.S. Intelligence Community)

“That is not a plausible scenario,” said one senior U.S. official, who noted that American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Ukraine had no antiaircraft missile system within range of the Malaysian flight at the time it was struck.

The official was one of three senior U.S. intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity during a briefing arranged for reporters in Washington to provide more detailed information on the assertions made by administration officials in recent days, as well as to rebut Russian claims.

“We are seeing a full-court press by the Russian government to instruct affiliated or friendly elements to manipulate the media environment to spread Russia’s version of the story,” the official said. “What this looks like again is a classic case of blaming the victims.”

Russia has denied that it had any role in the shooting down of the Malaysian plane or that it has provided the Ukrainian rebels with SA-11 antiaircraft missile batteries. Moscow has instead blamed the Ukrainian government for the crash. On Monday, Russian Defense Ministry officials claimed that a Ukrainian military jet was flying less than three miles from the Malaysian plane just before it was shot down.

The U.S. intelligence officials, who included experts on Russia’s military and its relationship with separatists in Ukraine, said they do not know the identities or even the nationalities — whether Russian or possibly defectors from Ukraine’s military — of those who launched the missile from an SA-11 surface-to-air battery.

Nor have U.S. spy agencies reached any conclusions on the motive for the attack, except to say that the reaction among separatists recorded on social media indicates they believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military transport plane.

In part, the officials said, that may have been because the rebels operating the missile battery were poorly trained and did not have access to other radar systems and equipment that ordinarily accompany an SA-11 system and are designed to help distinguish military targets from civilian planes.

Images claim to show the movements of a surface-to-air missile launcher and build up of Russian military activity across the border.

U.S. officials said earlier that they had seen “indications” of advanced antiaircraft systems being moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia and being removed after the jet was shot down.