13 September 2014

Getting real about jihadi terror

September 13, 2014 
R. K. Raghavan, D. Sivanandhan

India cannot afford to be oblivious to the growing danger from jihadi terror outfits because of the implications for its domestic stability. Tackling this calls for monitoring cadre mobilisation, ensuring better security preparedness and mobilising religious leadership in fostering harmony 

U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent television address, on a strategy to combat the violence and influence unleashed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) couldn’t have come a day or a moment too soon. What he said may not have been spectacular or path-breaking in its content, but the categorical announcement of all-out air strikes in the affected areas reveal a steely resolve to destroy the monster that the terrorist outfit — a splinter group from the al-Qaeda — has become. 

Both Mr. Obama and the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, are under great stress following the phenomenal rise of ISIS. They are bewildered by the complexity and the way in which it has shaped itself. Outsmarting the parent outfit, al-Qaeda, in just a few years of its existence, ISIS has shown itself to be even more brutal and acutely driven by a fundamentalism that ostensibly strives for a Caliphate, whatever such a body means. With a cadre strength of about 10,000 it seems to have the resources — control over a few towns in Syria and Iraq as also some oilfields — and the determination to hold on to its gains against the odds. Its achievements have been spectacular and have lured many away from the al-Qaeda, whose presence in the region could become nominal if the trend continues. 

Mobilisation trends 

There is now unassailable evidence that ISIS has managed to draw substantial support from highly motivated youth. What is even more serious is the arrival into Syria and Iraq of an estimated 1,000 young men from abroad, especially the United States and the United Kingdom. This is however not something new. We do know of how a large number of youth from the West became fascinated by the al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and in the days following 9/11, with many even having received training in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One sees a revival of the trend after a short lull following the liquidation of bin Laden in 2011. Only very few countries, including those in Africa and Asia, can be blind to this sinister development because of its serious implications for their own domestic stability. 


Friday, 12 September 2014 |

Powerplay among India, China and Japan will determine the contours of the Asian century. New Delhi is still shaping its strategy and sometimes appears to be apologetic in dealing with Beijing. This needs to change

The 21st century is often described as ‘Asia’s Century’. This is primarily because of the rapidly growing economies of East and Southeast Asia and the declining rates of economic growth in the US and its European allies. Thus, while the US can no longer unilaterally decide the course of events in Asia, it will remain a key player in moulding the balance of power within Asia.

The actual balance of power within Asia will primarily be determined by the interplay among a rapidly growing, militaristic and jingoist China, an aging but technologically innovative Japan seeking its legitimate place in the sun, and an India, still uncertain about how to manage this triangular relationship, to its best advantage. One salient factor is that India and Japan have no territorial or maritime boundary issues which can escalate bilateral tensions. China, however, has adopted policies, on land and maritime boundaries, which could lead to escalating tensions with India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-profile visit to Japan and the forthcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India, together with the latter’s visits to Pakistan (since postponed) and Sri Lanka, should be seen in the context of these emerging power equations in Asia. It has long been Beijing’s effort to ‘contain’ India within South Asia. Nothing else can explain its policies of equipping Pakistan not merely with tanks, warships and fighter aircraft, but also by promoting the development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and missile production capabilities. This has been accompanied by China’s untiring efforts to undermine India’s influence in its immediate neighbours, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

China took note of Mr Modi’s comment in Japan: “Everywhere around us, we see an 18th century expansionist mindset; encroaching on another country, intruding on other’s waters, invading other countries and capturing territory”. While noting that Mr Modi had not named any country, China’s official mouthpiece, the Global Times observed: “Japan is located faraway from India. Abe’s harangue on the Indo-Pacific concept makes Indians comfortable. It is South Asia where New Delhi has to make its presence felt. However, China is a neighbour it cannot move away from. Sino-Indian ties can in no way be counter-balanced by the Japan-India friendship”.

The benefits of a multipolar world

Published: September 13, 2014 

Zorawar Daulet Singh

APNEW VISTAS: Narendra Modi’s Japan visit has buttressed India’s position in an important triangle in Asia. Picture shows the Prime Minister with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Toji Temple in Kyoto.

Being wooed by both Tokyo and Beijing has opened new vistas for both India’s domestic transformation and its role in Asia and the world

It is a timeless maxim in international triangular politics that when one state has better bilateral ties than what the other two states have with each other, it is in a geopolitically advantageous position. Narendra Modi’s Japan visit has buttressed India’s position in an important triangle in Asia.

For decades, India has been at the wrong end of triangular politics. Whether it was the U.S.-Pakistan-India triangle, the India-China-Pakistan triangle, or the U.S.-China-India triangle, New Delhi was always in the unenviable position of managing simultaneously unfriendly dyads. To now being wooed by both Tokyo and Beijing, even as Japan-China relations remain sour, has opened new vistas for both India’s domestic transformation, and, its role in Asia and the world.

While it would be tempting to interpret Mr. Modi’s rendezvous with Shinzo¯ Abe in mostly geopolitical terms, it is actually more about development. As Mr. Modi said in one of his speeches in Japan, “As a Gujarati, commerce is in my blood.” He brought that spirit to Japan with Mr. Abe reciprocating with an earmarked $35 billion in direct finance or investment over the next five years, a process that would be overseen by a dedicated team in the Prime Minister’s Office to overcome any red tape.

Look East policy

Japan has finally begun a small step in diversifying its production base, which has high trade and investment exposure to China. Based on Japan External Trade Organization data, Japan’s cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) in China was nearly U.S. $100 billion by end of 2013, accounting for over 30 per cent of Japan’s outward FDI stock in Asia. More than 20,000 Japanese-owned or affiliated ventures operate in China. (Japan’s FDI stock in India was $15 billion by end 2012.) To emulate China’s strategy, India has to address three pillars of its manufacturing ecosystem. One, the quality of its labour-intensive workforce since this is a variable driving Japanese capital away from the maturing production centres near coastal China. Second, the quality of its infrastructure sectors — power, transportation, ports and access to natural resources. Third, a policy framework that encourages export-orientation. Nevertheless, in Japan, India has found the most enthused G-7 economy with a potential to transform India’s industrial and technological base.

The timeless fatalism of the Subcontinent

Friday, September 12, 2014 

Islamabad diary

Real leaders, as opposed to the tinsel variety, don’t go for photo ops – where sympathy is faked and sentiment is manufactured. They see to it that things happen, which after all is their real job instead of grandstanding for the cameras.

They set things in motion, use their boots to kick backsides…they storm and they rage and catch errant or sleeping officials by the scruffs of their necks. They don’t pose Mussolini-like, arms on hips, in knee-deep water…for the benefit of the cameras. They ask themselves what preparations were made for a calamity that visits the lands we inhabit every year.

To stop the Mongols Chinese emperors built the Great Wall. Mongol incursions were to the Chinese of those days what floods are to us. In Japan planning for earthquakes is a national priority…because earthquakes are to them what floods are to us. But we don’t plan for floods. Our approach is piecemeal and ad hoc, and full of hypocrisy. A calamity occurs and fake sentiment takes over, rulers putting on masks of anguish and officialdom, trained by tradition in such hypocrisy, putting up a false show for them, medicine stalls and the like abandoned and looking forlorn the moment the VIP, shedding crocodile tears, departs.

Some things never change. Our routines on such occasions are the same, repeated year after year. When the waters recede and the TV cameras are on to something else, it is back to business as usual, the floods forgotten and not to be heard of until their arrival, as sure as the wind and the rain, the following year.

In the planning halls what then will be the priorities? It will be back to some metro-bus service, some flyover or underpass, anything that glitters and can be cited as evidence of development or an example of ‘good governance’ – a phrase which by now makes me reach for my stick. 

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

Alastair Crooke Headshot

Fmr. MI-6 agent; Author, 'Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution'
Posted: 09/02/2014 

This article is Part II of Alastair Crooke's historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East. Read Part I here.

BEIRUT -- ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the "March of the Beheaders"; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of "justice" -- terrible though they are -- that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.
"We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch."

Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere -- in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS' deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine -- of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first "prince of the faithful" in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state ... Among its goals is disseminating monotheism "which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam..." This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab's formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter's writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS' control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, "a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal."

And what is this "forgotten" tradition of "loyalty and disavowal?" It is Abd al-Wahhab's doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God -- who was alone worthy of worship -- was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?

He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of "unbelievers." They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab's vision of Islam -- or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils ofjihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.
"Through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion -- one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively."

President Barack Obama addressed the nation Wednesday on his strategy to confront the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS)

My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. And that’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the “Islamic State.”

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

*** BRICS in Motion To Form the New 'International Community'

by Michael Billington
SEPTEMBER 09, 2014

This article appears in the September 5, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Sept. 1—The U.S. and most European governments, and their obedient press outlets, have focused over recent weeks on President Obama's assertions of kingly power to wage war in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and wherever else he pleases, and on the dangerous NATO rants about a Russian "invasion" of Ukraine, combined with threats that the "international community" will respond with yet more self-destructive sanctions, and a massive military buildup around the borders of Russia and China.

But who or what is the "international community"? For many years, the British Empire and its underlings (including Presidents Bush and Obama) have waged illegal wars, imposed unilateral and collective sanctions outside of international law, and supplied massive armaments to terrorist forces across Southwest Asia (often through their satrapies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar), all in the name of the "international community"—meaning the Anglo-American financial oligarchy and its "Washington consensus" of free trade, deregulation, and IMF-dictated austerity.

Now, especially since the BRICS Summit in Brazil in mid-July, there is a new "international community" which, this time, actually represents most of the world's nations and the majority of the world's population.

Lyndon LaRouche this week referred to the "old" international community as "a bunch of hysterics who are totally bankrupt, and they are not going to get anywhere. They might as well just sit down and contemplate whether they're going to shoot themselves."

This report will briefly review what the new "international community"—the BRICS (Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa) and their close collaborators (nearly all of Ibero-America, and much of Africa and Asia) have done in the past few weeks alone to transform the world from one of economic and social disintegration to one of large-scale infrastructure development, industrial and agricultural expansion, and multilateral collaboration in space, nuclear technology, and related scientific endeavors.

The creation by the BRICS of a New Development Bank (NDB) to fund infrastructure development worldwide, without the imperial "conditionalities" of the IMF and World Bank, and a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), to combat currency warfare from the speculators in New York and London, will not become operative institutions for several years. Nonetheless, the simple announcement of intention to create such a new global economic order has dramatically changed the condition of the world, and unchained nations to act upon their true freedom as sovereign nations, in collaboration with other sovereigns, in the interest of their populations, and of all mankind, through scientific and economic development.

Expanding Real Value

'Al Qaeda is serious about expanding in India'

September 10, 2014 
'India can certainly be counted on to ensure that Al Qaeda's influence doesn't grow to the point that it carves out sanctuaries.'

'The nations where Al Qaeda has built a strong presence have either suffered complete breakdowns in stability, sponsored militancy, or been failing States. None of this, of course, applies to India.'

Al Qaeda's announcement last week that it is setting up an India wing worried the India security establishment.

Michael Kugelman, senior programme associate for South and South East Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, a Washington-based think-tank, believes from the Al Qaeda video we can assume that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is based somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

'Al Qaeda has been concerned about losing the allegiance of global militants to ISIS, and this might be a way to signify to the world's extremists -- and particularly those in South Asia -- that Al Qaeda is still worth supporting,' Kugelman, left, below, tells Rediff.com

What are your thoughts on the video released by Ayman al-Zawahiri?

This video is meant to show two things. First, Al Qaeda is still relevant in South Asia. Though Al Qaeda Central retains a presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan (we can assume al-Zawahiri is based somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan), its influence and capacities have diminished in recent years.

Reorganising the Defence of India: The Task Ahead

10 Sep , 2014

Changes would provide a boost to defence preparedness, usher in an RMA, evolve requisite strategies and policies including for national security, response to asymmetric war, defence procurements, R&D, technology acquisition and reorganising the defence-industrial base. Development and economic progress are undoubtedly priority tasks for the new government but national defence and security issues must be given equal importance if India is to gain its rightful place in the comity of nations.

While both China and Pakistan possess advanced Sub-Conventional capability, India is lagging behind…

The security imperatives for India are multiple and dynamic with a volatile neighbourhood. The last decade has been characterised by utter neglect of the defence sector, the main features being – lack of a national security strategy and a comprehensive defence review; disjointed acquisitions in the absence of a security strategy and clear national security objectives; ignoring military modernisation, allowing the capability gap between own military and the Chinese PLA to increase exponentially; failure to establish a deterrent to proxy and asymmetric war; poor response to border violations, cross-border attacks and intrusions, showing the military and the country in poor light; inadequate border management; military-industrial complex in downward spiral with patchy windows of excellence, forcing import of over 80 per cent of defence needs; generalist bureaucrats ruling the roost in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) without accountability, one example being critical deficiencies in the Indian Navy courtesy MoD intransigence resulting in serious damage to the naval fleet with avoidable loss of lives and equipment, while the MoD failed to take any responsibility whatsoever; civil-military relations hit rock bottom with military deliberately lowered in the Warrant of Precedence; government fighting its own soldiers in Courts denying them authorised pay and allowances, even to the extent of forcing war disabled soldiers and war widows into long legal battles and paid media denigrating the military to show it in poor light.

The debate over the budget for defence and for economic growth is never-ending but recent media reports of the demand for a ten per cent increase in the defence budget just to cater for inflation (forget modernisation) indicates the grim picture. A country which is not strong militarily can hardly develop economically without a ‘safe and secure’ environment especially in a geographical and geo-political setting such as India. We also failed to grasp that conventional response and diplomacy by itself is no match to irregular threats despite having been subjected to proxy war for over two decades.

A priority task should be to define a National Security Strategy (NSS) followed by a Strategic Defence Review (SDR)…

Security Paradigm

Kautilya had advocated three types of war – Open, Concealed and Silent. An ‘open war’ he described as one that is fought between states; a ‘concealed war’ is one which is similar to a ‘guerilla war’ and a ‘silent war’ is one which is fought on a continued basis inside the kingdom so that the power of the King does not get diluted. India is faced with a multitude of traditional and non-traditional threats, which in today’s context are overlapping. While we continue to fight asymmetric wars, these we will continue to contend with breakout of hostilities in other segments of the conflict spectrum. That is why in the case of a China-Pakistan dual threat, a two and a half front war is talked about.

Russia’s Next Land Grab

SEPT. 9, 2014
Russia’s Next Land Grab

WASHINGTON — UKRAINE isn’t the only place where Russia is stirring up trouble. Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Moscow has routinely supported secessionists in bordering states, to coerce those states into accepting its dictates. Its latest such effort is unfolding in the South Caucasus.

In recent weeks, Moscow seems to have been aggravating a longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan while playing peacemaking overlord to both. In the first week of August, as many as 40 Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers were reported killed in heavy fighting near their border, just before a summit meeting convened by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

The South Caucasus may seem remote, but the region borders Russia, Iran and Turkey, and commands a vital pipeline route for oil and natural gas to flow from Central Asia to Europe without passing through Russia. Western officials cannot afford to let another part of the region be digested by Moscow — as they did when Russia separated South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, just to the north, in a brief war in 2008, and when it seized Crimea from Ukraine this year.

Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not new. From 1992 to 1994,war raged over which former Soviet republic would control the autonomous area of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region with a large Christian Armenian population of about 90,000 within the borders of largely Muslim Azerbaijan. The conflict has often been framed as “ethnic,” but Moscow has fed the antagonisms. That war ended with an Armenian military force, highly integrated with Russia’s military, in charge of the zone. The war had killed 30,000 people and made another million refugees.

Even today, Armenia controls nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, comprising most of Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding regions. Despite a cease-fire agreement since 1994, hostilities occasionally flare, and Russian troops run Armenia’s air defenses. Moscow also controls key elements of Armenia’s economy and infrastructure.

More to the point, Russia has found ways to keep the conflict alive. Three times in the 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed peace agreements, but Russia found ways to derail Armenia’s participation. (In 1999, for example, a disgruntled journalist suspected of having been aided by Moscowassassinated Armenia’s prime minister, speaker of Parliament and other government officials.)

Lessons Learned: A Look Back at the Ukrainian Military’s Defeat at the Battle of Ilovaisk

Carlotta Gall 
Ukraine Town Bears Scars of Russian Offensive That Turned Tide in Conflict

After Russian units bombarded Ukraine forces around Ilovaisk, a Ukrainian soldier’s helmet marked his grave. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times 

ILOVAISK, Ukraine — Burned-out tanks, troop carriers and trucks still lie strewn on the roads and fields all around this town. The body of a Ukrainian soldier hangs doubled over an electric wire, flung up like a doll when his tank exploded. The charred corpse of another soldier lies inside the hull of the tank, a third putrifying torso is tangled in machinery on the road. 

It is vivid, if horrifying, evidence of what was a devastating offensive mounted by Russian artillery units at the end of August that smashed the government forces, breaking what had been a relentless advance that had seemed on the verge of crushing the pro-Russian uprising in the country’s southeast. Days later, Ukraine agreed to a cease-fire cementing the rebels’ hold on the region. 

In a matter of five days, beginning on Aug. 28, the previously ill-equipped and inept rebels, backed or led by regular Russian troops and artillery, obliterated almost every Ukrainian position in a 20-square-mile area around this town. 

Under withering and highly accurate artillery fire, entire Ukrainian units were virtually wiped out, hundreds of men were killed or wounded, and 250 were taken prisoner, according to rebel commanders. Scores of wounded have filled Ukrainian hospitals, and nearly 100 vehicles were destroyed, some in the fields and villages, others on the roads. 

Signs of a panicked, haphazard retreat line the roads around the town. The twisted remnants of burned-out troop carriers and other armored vehicles appear every few miles. 

South of Ilovaisk, a large military camp at a dairy farm shows evidence of similarly devastating artillery strikes. Assorted vehicles, trucks and armored personnel carriers, including a command vehicle with communications antenna, were destroyed. Craters from artillery fire pockmarked the fields. 

It was a stunning turnaround, engineered in Moscow and carried out by regular Russian troops in what amounted to an invasion, NATO and the Ukrainian government have said. 

Yes, Russia Matters: Putin’s Guerrilla Strategy

The Obama administration seems to believe that Vladimir Putin should not be taken too seriously. The annexation of Crimea and belligerence over Ukraine are, to quote the president and his secretary of state, a sign of “weakness,” the hallmark of a “regional” power stuck in “the old ways of doing things,” leading no bloc of nations and having “no global ideology.” These assumptions may be comforting rationales for a lack of response to the Kremlin’s recent moves, but they misread the game Putin is playing—and underestimate its significance.

One way the Kremlin advances its interests is by making other states reliant on its money and markets, approaching each country according to its unique vulnerability. Britain, for example, has wedded itself to a development strategy of becoming the capital of global finance, so Russia keeps its money flowing into London to help keep the economy purring

 The London Stock Exchange, whose regulations are looser than those of the US, is perceived as a more hospitable place for Russian companies, more than seventy of which are listed and traded there, with companies from the former Soviet states raising $82.6 billion in the past two decades. And that’s just the transparent money. Much more is thought to flow from Russia to London through the UK’s network of murky offshore zones such as the British Virgin Islands. According to the British Financial Services Authority, approximately one-third of UK banks appeared willing to endure “money-laundering risk if the immediate reputational and regulatory risk was acceptable,” an attitude which has led London to be nicknamed “the money laundering capital of the world” by the satirical magazine Private Eye. “I’ve regularly told the UK Financial Services Authority to investigate Russian state companies in the UK,” says Vladimir Ashurkov, head of the Moscow-based Anti-Corruption Fund, “but they never do: at one point you realize 

it’s a question of political will.”It is true that Russia is relatively weak compared to the Soviet Union, to which its current leader looks back with nostalgia. It faces demographic problems, its economy (the eighth-largest in the world) is flatlining, and its military spending is only a sixth of America’s (though still the third-largest in the world, and growing). But today’s Kremlin has seen something: in the globalization and interdependence of the twenty-first century, it’s how you use your relative weakness that counts.

If Europe’s far-right, pro-Russia parties gain in upcoming national elections, the EU may divide further and find it very difficult to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere.

The UK is addicted to these financial flows not because the amounts are huge, but because clamping down on the Russians would signal that London was willing to surrender its position as global financial capital for larger principles. The Kremlin is aware that the British will not take such a stand. “The UK should not support for now, trade sanctions . . . or close London’s financial center to Russians,” one of the British government’s key security advisers wrote in a strategy memo accidentally leaked to the press during the crisis over Ukraine.

Redrawing the Map of the Russian Federation: Partitioning Russia After World War III?

Global Research, September 10, 2014

The end goal of the US and NATO is to divide (balkanize) and pacify (finlandize) the world’s biggest country, the Russian Federation, and to even establish a blanket of perpetual disorder (somalization) over its vast territory or, at a minimum, over a portion of Russia and the post-Soviet space, similarly to what is being done to the Middle East and North Africa.

The future Russia or the many future Russias, a plurality of weakened and divided states, that Washington and its NATO allies see is/are demographically in decline, de-industrialized, poor, without any defensive capabilities, and hinterlands that will exploited for their resources.

The Plans of the Empire of Chaos for Russia

Breaking the Soviet Union has not been enough for Washington and NATO. The ultimate goal of the US is to prevent any alternatives from emerging in Europe and Eurasia to Euro-Atlantic integration. This is why the destruction of Russia is one of its strategic objectives.

Washington’s goals were alive and at work during the fighting in Chechnya. They were also seen in the crisis that erupted with EuroMaidan in Ukraine. In fact, the first step of the divorce between Ukraine and Russia was a catalyst for the dissolution of the entire Soviet Union and any attempts at reorganizing it.

The Polish-American intellectual Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was US President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and an architect behind the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, has actually advocated for the destruction of Russia through gradual disintegration and devolution. He has stipulated that «a more decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization». [1] In other words, if the US divides Russia up, Moscow would not be able to challenge Washington. In this context, he states the following: «A loosely confederated Russia—composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic—would find it easier to cultivate closer economic regulations with Europe, with the new states of Central Asia, and with [East Asia], which would thereby accelerate Russia’s own development». [2]

These views are not merely constrained to some academic’s ivory tower or to detached think-tanks. They have the backing of governments and have even cultivated adherents. One reflection of them is below.

US State-Owned Media Forecasts the Balkanization of Russia

Dmytro Sinchenko published an article on September 8, 2014 about dividing Russia. His article is titled «Waiting for World War III: How the World Will Change». [3] Sinchenko was involved in EuroMaidan and his organization, the Ukrainian Initiative «Statesmen Movement» (Всеукраїнської ініціативи «Рух державотворців»), advocates for an ethnic nationalism, the territorial expansion of Ukraine at the expense of most the bordering countries, reinvigorating the pro-US Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova (GUAM) Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, joining NATO, and launching an offensive to defeat Russia as part of its foreign policy goals. [4] As a note, the inclusion of the word democracy in GUAM should not fool anyone; GUAM, as the inclusion of the Republic of Azerbaijan proves, has nothing to do with democracy, but with counter-balancing Russia in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Top Russian General Lays Bare Putin's Plan for Ukraine


PRAGUE -- When the crisis in Ukraine dramatically heated up last November and in the ensuing weeks, I was impressed by the ability of the Russian state to mobilize so many different tools in its bid to destabilize its neighbor. It became clear very quickly that Russian politicians, journalists, purportedly nongovernmental organizations, state companies, think tanks, the military, the courts, government agencies and the Duma were all working from the same instructions for the same goals. At the time I remarked on Twitter that the crisis showed the tactical effectiveness of the "unitary state" Russian President Vladimir Putin has been building since 1999.

In June, I came across a fairly obscure article by General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian Federation, and was struck by how closely it mirrored my observations of the unfolding Ukraine crisis.

Gerasimov writes about how "a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war."

This is achieved, Gerasimov writes, by "the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other non-military measures applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population." The goal is "to create a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state."

Gerasimov's article is of great interest to military specialists, but it is of broader interest as well. It reveals much about Russia's view of the West -- particularly the United States -- which the Kremlin believes carries out such operations regularly around the world. The view of global affairs presented in this article, I think, accurately reflects an important strain of Kremlin thinking. After all, it is presented in an obscure publication and its exposure to foreign audiences could not have been foreseen.

It also presents a candid and fairly negative assessment of Russian military science. Gerasimov notes the field has been stymied in the past by "a scornful attitude toward new ideas," for which the Soviet Union paid "in great quantities of blood" during World War II. Reading between the lines, one might learn a lot from this article about relations between the military and the government and about competing schools within security structure itself.

Finally, I think this article offers a lesson for the West. The Russian government is intentionally shrouded in secrecy, but it is not nearly as inscrutable as the Soviet government was. There is a huge amount of important and revealing information to be found that needs to be researched, translated, and brought into the larger discussion of Russia's relations with the West and its role in the world. But very little of this information ever gets beyond a small circle of specialists. And that is proving to be a very costly mistake.

Here is my translation of key portions of General Gerasimov's article, which appeared on "Military-Industrial Kurier" on February 27, 2013

In the 21st century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template.

The experience of military conflicts -- including those connected with the so-called colored revolutions in north Africa and the Middle East -- confirm that a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.

The Lessons of the "Arab Spring"

Of course, it would be easiest of all to say that the events of the "Arab Spring" are not war and so there are no lessons for us -- military men -- to learn. But maybe the opposite is true -- that precisely these events are typical of warfare in the 21st century.


September 11, 2014 

Over the past two decades, the West has paid an incredible amount of attention to Islamist violence, fromgrand theories of civilizational decline to a surfeit ofmore contemporarysociological andpolitical studies. After a lull following the drawdown of U.S. and Western forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and the rise of new groups – notably the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – have led to renewedinterest in various subjects related to Islamist violence.

And yet, for all the analysis, the origins of Islamic warfare remain remarkably under-examined. Major Western histories of political Islam do cover such events as the Battle of Tours, the Crusades, and even the Sunni-Shi’a schism and the Battle of Karbala (680 CE). But they often gloss over much of the earlier period. In fact, reliable accounts in English of the early years of Islam’s rapid growth – the three decades during which the faith spread from a single town, Medina, to the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, Egypt, Libya, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Central Asia – are few.

For those seeking a better understanding of Islamist warfare, this is unfortunate. The leaders and fighters of the Islamic State are unlikely to be swayed by historiographical arguments. But a glimpse into the military successes of the early caliphate suggests several differences between competing notions of Islam and warfare that have taken root across the Muslim world and in the West.

This is what makes Major General A.I. Akram’s book The Sword of Allah such a valuable resource for its overarching military history of the very early Islamic period (circa 613-642 CE). In the late 1960s, Akram, a retired Pakistani military officer, was disappointed with the “void” in Islamic military history in the curriculum of the Staff College at Quetta, and took it upon himself to write a history of early Islamic military successes. He chose as his vehicle the person of Khalid bin al-Waleed (known as “the Sword of Allah”) because he was perhaps the most outstanding general among the first generation of Mohammed’s followers.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Report Offers Blunt and Sobering Assessment of Afghan National Police

September 9, 2014

The website publicintelligence.net has placed online a restricted access (For Official Use Only) Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) assessment of the capabilities of Afghan National Police (ANP), which can be read here.

You can’t help feeling depressed that the ANP is still in this sort of pitiful shape 13 years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and tens of billions of dollars spent trying to boost its manpower and increase its ability to secure the Afghan countryside.

Here are some of the more trenchant findings of the JCS report:

Many Police Chiefs are Appointed Due to Patronage: “Many ANP chiefs owe their position not to leadership ability or police experience, but to the patronage of a local leader. As a result, advisors must often guide them very closely to help them do the right things.” 
Police Chiefs Often Feel They Can Fleece the Population: “Many chiefs also feel that their position grants them the right to certain ‘benefits’ including skimming pay or demanding additional compensation from the community.” 

Police Can Often Have Ties to Illegal Militias or the Taliban: “That many ANP owe their jobs to the influence of these local leaders has led to the perception that many of them have ties to insurgents or the Taliban, work with illegal militias, or have questionable loyalty to the ANP over their tribal benefactors. Unfortunately, in many cases, these perceptions are reality. The lack of a comprehensive national criminal database also makes weeding out the bad very difficult. In a country where mid to upper level Taliban leaders can freely travel the streets because no one is able or willing to identify them makes infiltration of the ANP by criminals and insurgents a foregone conclusion.” 

Police Corruption is Rampant: “Corruption can be found at all levels, and may be justified by reasoning that the ANP risk much and are underpaid. One favorite tactic is to ‘shake down’ travelers at [traffic control points]. Another is to steal various items while conducting the search of a home. Leaders must be encouraged to follow up on reported acts such as these and to resolve them. Unresolved issues such as these can and will lead to more violence against the ANP and more support for insurgents.”

Demystifying India’s Volte-Face on Pakistan

By Ali Ahmed
September 10, 2014

India appears to be waiting for Pakistan to blink on Kashmir. 

India’s new government has sprung two back-to-back surprises on Pakistan: the first was inviting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; the second was the about-face on foreign secretary level talks upon the resumption of dialogue.

The first of these was seemingly couched in Indian regional diplomacy, but was mainly directed at Pakistan. The message was that with a new right-leaning government in New Delhi, Pakistan could expect bolder movement on the outstanding issues between the two.

However, the second stemmed from the new government’s reluctance to be brought to the negotiating table under Pakistani pressure. There were an estimated 95 incidents along the Line of Control (LoC) this summer, with 25 on the international border (or “working boundary,” according to Pakistan).

A strategic view of the increase in action along the LoC is that it is the Pakistani military’s attempt to get India to engage meaningfully. A political view is that it was intended to position the military favorably within Pakistan, to first gain credibility for the talks by pushing India to the table, and second to caution the Pakistani government against any “sell out.”

In this event, the Pakistani high commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri separatists, something traditionally acceded to by India, provided the pretext for the cancellation. It was India’s message to Pakistan’s “miltastablishment,” to use former Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi’s phrase, that force will not work, particularly on a new government with a “tough” self-image.

India’s outstretched hand in the Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Residence) forecourt appeared promising for the peace constituency in Pakistan, which comprises liberals and the business lobby. It is a longstanding Indian policy to expand the peace constituency by holding out economic benefits as an incentive for Pakistan to go beyond the Kashmir question. Cancelling talks was unhelpful in empowering the peace lobby relative to India-skeptics in Pakistan.

It is apparent that India’s strategy does not rely on this constituency’s ability to marginalize hardliners. The cancellation and the manner it was done together suggest India’s intent to bring about change through other means.

In a speech to troops while in Leh, Modi pointed out that the Pakistani military’s shift to a proxy war was due to India’s conventional advantages. Obviously these advantages have not been so overwhelming they could deter a proxy war.

The ability to administer military punishment was found wanting when it was tested during the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Even though India has had a conventional doctrine for the nuclear age, called Cold Start, since the attack on India’s Parliament in December 2001, the military’s wherewithal to execute its policy could not keep pace given the strained economic circumstances during the later part of the last decade.

Deterrence deemed insufficient, India is now attempting to compel.


September 10, 2014 

China and Japan are heading towards military conflict, according to a majority of Chinese surveyed on ties between the Asian powers in a Sino-Japanese poll.

The Genron/China Daily survey found that 53 per cent of Chinese respondents – and 29 per cent of the Japanese polled – expect their nations to go to war. The poll was released ahead of the second anniversary of Japan’s move to nationalize some of the contested Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Relations between Japan and China have soured since Japan bought three of the tiny islands – which China claims and calls the Diaoyu – in 2012. Japan defended the move as an effort to thwart a plan by the anti-China governor of Tokyo to buy them, but China accused it of breaching an unwritten deal to keep the status quo.

According to the poll, 38 per cent of Japanese think war will be avoided, but that marked a nine point drop from 2013. It also found that a record 93 per cent of Japanese have an unfavourable view of their Chinese neighbours, while the number of Chinese who view Japanese unfavourably fell 6 points to 87 per cent.

Jeff Kingston, a Japan expert at Temple University in Philadelphia, said Japanese tabloid media were driving the already negative sentiment towards China by focusing on its “warmongering”. He added that the government was “amplifying the anxiety” by talking about the threat from China.

Sino-Japanese relations started to improve about a year ago, spurring Tokyo to start laying the groundwork for a possible first meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping. But ties deteriorated rapidly again after Mr Abe’s visit in December to Yasukuni, a controversial shrine dedicated to Japan’s war dead including a handful of convicted war criminals.

Mr Abe wants to hold a summit with Mr Xi in November on the sidelines of an Apec summit in Beijing but China has shown no sign of interest. Critics say Mr Abe has hurt efforts to repair ties by visiting Yasukuni and also because of the perception that he is an unrepentant ultranationalist.

This week two members of Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic party, including a new cabinet minister, were forced to distance themselves from photographs that showed them posing with the leader of a Japanese neo-Nazi party.

Chart of poll on likelihood of military conflict between Japan and China (Japanese respondents)

“He just replaced the rightwing loonies [in his cabinet] with another group of rightwing loonies,” said Mr Kingston.

How Do You Get All Those Army Tanks to Europe?

How Do You Get All Those Army Tanks to Europe?

Unique units and private companies help American forces haul heavy gear

The Pentagon has been sending a bunch of tanks and other heavy vehicles to Europe in the last month or so. The Army needs them for training exercises—and as a warning to Russia.

But it ain’t easy getting a 70-ton M-1 Abrams main battle tank across a few thousand miles of ocean. American forces work with private companies to ship the vehicles across the Atlantic and to their final destinations.

This logistical prowess is one of the U.S. military’s greatest strengths.

Since 1987, U.S. Transportation Command has managed the bulk of military cargo around the world. The Defense Department’s logistics headquarters controls the majority of shipments to and from American facilities and war zones.

TRANSCOM can make use of the Air Force’s huge cargo planes and the Navy’s fleet of special cargo ships. Air Mobility Command’s hundreds of C-5s, C-17s and C-130s can rush troops and equipment to the front line in hours. Military Sealift Command possesses dozens of vessels ready to deposit vehicles and supplies into potential conflict zones or disaster areas.

The Army’s little-known Surface Deployment and Distribution Command occupies a more unique space. The ground combat command’s shipping arm has more than 3,000 uniformed personnel on its payroll—including reservist and members from the other services—plus civilians employees.

But private shipping companies on land and sea are the real key to getting most military equipment wherever it needs to go. And SDDC’s job is mostly to make sure all the shippers link up properly.

Above and at top—U.S. Army troops lotanks and artillery are loaded onto trains in Germany. Army photos.

Norm Setting for Outer Space

By Michael Krepon

Norms are standards of proper or acceptable behavior. They establish expectations and clarify misbehavior, thereby helping to isolate, limit and sanction bad behavior. Without norms, there are no norm breakers. They can be codified in treaties and other legal instruments, or they can be less formal, such as those embedded in international codes of conduct. When less-formal norms become customary international practice, they gain standing in international law.

Norms can be particularly helpful when they encourage transparency, because transparency measures can lead to important negotiating breakthroughs. Extraordinary treaties that drastically reduced nuclear forces between the United States and the Soviet Union were enabled by a slightly regarded, multilateral agreement in 1983 in which the Kremlin permitted foreign observers to attend conventional military exercises.

Not everyone will sign up to norms right away, and there will always be outliers. Even so, norms can discourage unwanted behavior, even by holdouts — but not for die-hard outliers. The speed and effectiveness of norm building depends on the attitudes and actions of major powers, not outliers. The most reluctant major power is usually China.

Norms relating to nuclear weapons have been well established. The most important norm since 1945 has been against the use of mushroom clouds on battlefields. Another important norm has been against atmospheric nuclear testing. The superpowers stopped doing this 1963; China didn’t sign up to this norm until 1980. The cessation of underground nuclear tests is becoming a norm, even though the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty hasn’t entered into force. The Soviet Union stopped testing underground in 1989, followed by the United States and Great Britain in 1992, then France and China in 1996. India and Pakistan haven’t signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and tested in 1998, but not since. That leaves only one outlier — North Korea.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty began to codify norms, such as the obligation not to place weapons of mass destruction in this domain. The Outer Space Treaty also gained important adherents over time. France didn’t sign up until 1970, West Germany in 1971, India in 1982, and China in 1983.

The Outer Space Treaty predated and didn’t tackle problems of debris, harmful interference and traffic management in this domain. For space to be sustainable for military, intelligence, commercial, scientific and exploratory purposes, norms governing debris, harmful interference and traffic management will have to be established or strengthened.

U.S. Intelligence Fear a 25-Year American Great Depression

The CIA's Financial Threat and Asymmetric Warfare Advisor has given us an exclusive view of intelligence community evidence that predicts an imminent 70% market crash. See his shocking evidence here...


September 11, 2014

Since the tenth anniversary of al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, 9/11 has slowly become an afterthought, an increasingly distant memory of an absolutely awful day. For sure, the National Geographic Channel will dust off its 9/11 specials and run them on a continuous loop while the History Channel serves up Osama bin Laden biopics. For the superstitious, this year’s unlucky 13th anniversary might be of greater concern than past years. They are correct, but for the wrong reasons. At no time since the original 9/11 attacks has there been such a diverse set of terrorist threats that might strike the West, and so much certainty about the intentions of the dozen or more jihadi terrorist groups scattered around the world. For Americans on Sept. 11, 2014, the question is not “Will al Qaeda attack us again?” Instead, it is “Which one of these terrorist groups will attack us?”

Today’s Jihadi Terrorism: From Al Qaeda as the Primary to Al Qaeda as One of Many

The Afghan mujahideen victory over the Soviet Union concluded with the famous march of Lt. Gen. Boris Gromov over the bridge into Uzbekistan on Feb. 15, 1989. A little more than 12 years later, Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda pulled off its third attack against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, this time striking the U.S. homeland and forever changing American perceptions of their security. Most Americans have remained trapped in a psychological time warp pinned in place by the awful memories of the 9/11 attacks. Despite most Westerners not moving on from bin Laden’s great success, adherents to jihadi ideology have. Today marks 13 years since al Qaeda reached its pinnacle. Since then, jihadi terrorism has become more diffuse, both ideologically and geographically.

Prior to his death, bin Laden represented the height of jihadi terrorism, admired by his followers and respected by his challengers within the jihadi community. His resume spoke for itself: a fighter in Afghanistan, leader of three successful attacks on U.S. targets; the Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, an attack on USS Cole and 9/11. What other jihadi leader could boast such merits? More importantly, bin Laden had money and vision. He could put together a plan, staff it and resource it. Al Qaeda’s regional affiliates adored bin Laden. They needed his resources and approval, hence the push by disparate groups to take on the al Qaeda moniker to strengthen their own appeal. Bin Laden kept the lid on a violent stew brewing in the next generation of jihadis fighting in Iraq under the leadership of new men of more brutal action like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Bin Laden’s death freed a new generation of seasoned foreign fighters from the Iraqi battlefields and affiliates in Yemen, the Sahel and now Syria to push for Islamic governance – a goal for which al Qaeda has always pursued with trepidation. Each month since bin Laden’s death has seen greater autonomy on the part of al Qaeda’s affiliates. Since 2011, the Syrian civil war has breathed new life into jihadi militancy, providing an unprecedented wave of recruits, a larger number of whom were ten years old or younger on 9/11. This new generation of jihadists has grown up knowing Iraq, Zarqawi and Facebook more than bin Laden, Afghanistan or the mosque. For al Qaeda, now led by Ayman al Zawahiri and pinned down by global counterterrorism efforts, the currents of jihad have become too much to manage, leaving the group as just one voice among many rather than the uncontested leader of the jihadist movement. Today, Americans face three jihadi threats: Old Guard al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, one of the many acronyms for the so-called Islamic State) and an array of Regional Upstarts

Old Guard Al Qaeda – Still Targeting The U.S. On The Way To Irrelevancy