15 October 2014

UN snubs Pakistan on Kashmir plea

Oct 15, 2014

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz (above) had briefed envoys of the five permanent UNSC members asking them to urge India to respect the ceasefire pact.

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's latest efforts to internationalize the Kashmir issue by seeking UN intervention have failed to draw any response from the world body, which reiterated that New Delhi and Islamabad need to resolve all differences bilaterally through dialogue. 

India also reacted strongly on Tuesday. With it continuing to internationalize the J&K issue — the latest in the form of a briefing for P5 envoys over the LoC situation — India said Pakistan needed to understand the road to peaceful ties with India runs from Islamabad to Delhi via Lahore and not through New York or any other "third party". 

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif's foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz had on Monday briefed envoys of the five permanent UNSC members asking them to urge India to respect the ceasefire pact. Earlier, Aziz had also written to the secretary general Ban Ki-Moon demanding an intervention by the UN in J&K.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. 

Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, when asked to comment on the letter seeking UN intervention, said he would refer to last week's statement by Ban's spokesperson in which the UN chief encouraged India and Pakistan to resolve differences through dialogue and engage construc- tively to find a long-term solution for peace and stability in Kashmir. 
An Indian Army soldier keeps watch on the line of control in J&K's Gurez sector. 
"The road to a peaceful and co-operative relationship between India and Pakistan runs from Islamabad via Lahore to New Delhi. If you divert that road to New York or elsewhere, it will not serve any purpose, because there is no place for third party in India-Pakistan relations," foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Tuesday.

India, Canada clinch nuclear deal in record time

Oct 15, 2014

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Canadian counterpart John Baird pose for the media during their meeting in New Delhi, on October 14, 2014. (AP photo)

NEW DELHI: Canada and India are negotiating commercial contracts for supply of uranium for Indian nuclear reactors. "The nuclear agreement starts a new chapter in relations with India," said John Baird, Canada's foreign minister in an exclusive conversation with TOI.

Baird is in Delhi for the second round of strategic dialogue he held with Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday. 

The restart of nuclear cooperation with Canada has been a long journey for both countries. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise to nuclear watchers here when India and Canada concluded their nuclear deal in virtually record time. The India-US deal still remains unconsummated and it will be a while before all the procedures are completed on the India-Australia front. 

Canada expressing support for Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The two countries plan to cooperate on building higher capacity nuclear reactors. Indian reactors are based on the CANDU model. The DAE wants to upgrade Indian nuclear reactors from their current capacity of 200MW to 750MW, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said as he brief on the discussions. 

Canadian foreign minister John Baird shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) during their meeting in New Delhi on October 13, 2014. (PTI photo) 

As a result of the conversations between Baird and Swaraj, the two countries will do some joint development. They will also joint host a nuclear security workshop in India with some 15 countries, the first such meet India would be organizing with another country. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have his first meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, in Brisbane on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. Baird said, "I was very pleased to extend an invitation from Prime Minister Harper to Mr Modi to visit Canada as early as possible. I should add I had the pleasure of inviting him to Canada years ago, and we've never had any visa problems. We have had numerous ministers and parliamentarians who have visited him in Gujarat." 

The Khalistan issue is never far from India-Canada discussions. "Canada and India share a painful past when it comes to terrorism," Baird said. "When I was in high school one of the victims of the Air India crash was a fellow student. So it's a personal experience when I was very young. Terrorism is the great struggle of our generation from the Air India crash through 9/11 to what we are seeing today in Iraq."

India’s Impressive Space Program

By Sudha Ramachandran
October 13, 2014

The recent Mars orbit caps an impressive track record for the country’s space agency. 

India recently made history, when its Mars Orbiter Mission successfully entered the Martian orbit. In doing so, it became the first country to enter Mars’ orbit on its first attempt and also the first Asian country to reach the red planet.

Missions to Mars have rarely been successful. Before India’s Mangalyaan (Sanskrit for Mars-craft), only the United States, the Soviet Union, and Europe had entered Mars orbit. India is part of an elite club.

What makes India’s Mars mission all the more remarkable is its low cost. With a price tag of just $70 million, it is the least expensive inter-planetary mission ever. The U.S. Maven orbiter, which arrived at Mars two days before Mangalyaan, cost NASA a whopping $671 million in comparison.

Experts have pointed out that the enormous cost difference between Mangalyaan and Maven is because the Indian Mars-craft is far simpler than Maven. “They’ve kept it small,” Andrew Coates, who will be a principal investigator on Europe’s Mars rover in 2018, said of the Indian Mars mission. “The payload weighs only about 15kg. Compare that with the complexity in the payload in Maven and that will explain a lot about the cost,” hetold the BBC.

Smaller and simpler than Maven it may be but Mangalyaan will contribute to understanding of the red planet. It has gone armed with instruments that will search for methane, a key target in the search for life on Mars.

India’s accomplishments in space had humble beginnings. In 1962, Thumba, a fishing hamlet near the southern city of Thiruvananthapuram, became the site of its first rocket launch pad, the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) (later renamed Vikram Sarabhai Space Center). A small church served as TERL’s workshop while the adjacent Bishop’s house was its office. Rocket parts and payloads were often transported by bicycle. Within a year of its establishment, TERLS launched its first rocket: the U.S.-made Nike-Apache. It hasn’t looked back. In 1969, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India’s state-owned space agency was set up in Bangalore.

ISRO has a string of achievements to its credit. India is among a handful of countries to have carried out deep space missions, and it was on its first such mission in 2008 that its spacecraft Chandrayaan entered the moon’s orbit*. It was on this mission too that water was detected on the lunar surface. It has the biggest remote sensing satellite network in the world. It is also among a select group of countries that provide commercial satellite launch services – putting into space 67 satellites, including 40 foreign satellites from 19 countries.

Mangalyaan’s entry into Mars’ orbit is the latest feather in ISRO’s cap.

Not that everybody is impressed with ISRO’s achievements or India’s extraterrestrial ambitions. Its missions to the moon and Mars in particular have been criticized as a waste of resources, which could be put to better use to tackle rampant poverty, malnutrition, and other problems. “It seems to be part of the Indian elite’s delusional quest for superpower status,” observed development economist Jean Dreze.

“This is uninformed criticism,” counters Ajey Lele, research fellow at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses and author of Mission Mars: India’s Quest for the Red Planet. “The benefits of any activity in space should not be seen in isolation as it is an ongoing process,” he told The Diplomat in an email interview.

Ceasefire Violations: Cut the Melodrama Please

3 Oct , 2014

Within a day of the much touted lull in ceasefire violations, Pakistan has stuck again; this has put paid to the hype created by the Indian media about the Pakistan army retracting, tail between legs, due to a massive counter bombardment by the Indian forces.

In a conflict situation the biggest mistake is to underestimate the enemy and the second biggest mistake is to blow the victory bugle prematurely. The Indian media has done both and more.

Sadly, the Indian media (especially the electronic segment) has resorted more to melodrama and sensationalism than a professional coverage of the stand-off between India and Pakistan. As Pakistan started building pressure along the international border in the Jammu region by constant engagement with heavy calibre weapons, the India media started pressurising the government to react aggressively. As the news of a substantial response from the Indian forces filtered in, a Diwali like media celebration was ushered complete with a media victory march. Now that Pakistan has, once again, fired across the line of control in the Karen sector there is a sense of incredulity- how could Pakistan dare to do this after the punishment meted out by our forces?

In a conflict situation the biggest mistake is to underestimate the enemy and the second biggest mistake is to blow the victory bugle prematurely. The Indian media has done both and more.

The reason behind the belligerence being exhibited by the Pakistan army is not hard to find; it is out and out posturing by the Pakistan army to send out two messages. The first is to its political leadership that it should not even try to initiate talks with India without explicit approval of the military masters. The second is to India that there is no point in talking to the Government of Pakistan since it is not in a position to deliver on promises made as a part of peace overtures.

The Pakistan army is aware that Indian retaliation in the Sailkot sector would rattle Nawaz Sharif and his government more than it would in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. Hence, it has chosen the Jammu region for the cross border firing with heavy artillery. The entire 198 km stretch of the international border in Jammu has been activated by Pakistan Rangers leading to death of civilians, intensive damage to property, killing of livestock and migration of thousands of people from their home and hearth. The Kashmir valley that has traditionally been a hot bed of such violations has not seen mush action as has been confirmed by the commander of the Srinagar based Chinar Corps.

Any insinuation that the Pakistan army has been cowed down by heavy shelling over a single day is highly misplaced. Indian needs to stay prepared for a long haul in this matter.

The continuing ceasefire violations along the international border in which both parties are now actively involved have the potential of attaining a critical dimension. Let us be honest and give the Pakistan soldier his due, he can be blamed for anything except lack of courage; the Pakistan army will never allow its reputation to be sullied by aspersions of having lost its nerve.

Pakistan was designed for proxy war

13 Oct , 2014

Soldiers of Indian Army in Insurgency Areas

…Jawaharlal Nehru had referred to a pamphlet written by the former Chief of General Staff of Pakistani Army in his address to the Cabinet’s Defence Committee meeting on the issue of the irregulars. Nehru had said: “There was the pamphlet issued by ex-Major General Akbar Khan, wherein he defined his line of action. This was to have large-scale sabotage within Jammu and Kashmir State and at the same time trouble along the ceasefire line and attempts to push large numbers of people across that line.”

The package of proxy war inflicted by Pakistan on India comprises infiltration, militancy, terrorist attacks, subversion, sabotage, counterfeiting of Indian currency, Hawala operations, drug trafficking, and destabilization activities from neighbouring countries.

Indians must be surprised at the sudden escalation between India and Pakistan on the LoC and IB. Many theories are being advanced for Pakistan’s provocation, most of them very simplistic. Most Indians have been inured to the vicissitudes of proxy war waged by Pakistan since 1947. It is increasingly becoming difficult to decide whether Pakistan was created as a homeland for Muslims or designed for proxy war by powers that be. This very form of warfare engineered by US-Pak combine engendered the end of Cold War. Pakistan has since been expanding the scope of proxy war.

Any flare-up between the two countries spawns host of ‘defence analysts’ on both sides of the border. The Pakistani self-declared analysts have no clue of the vitiated geopolitical environment created by Pakistan in its neighbourhood i.e. Afghanistan and Iran and in the wider context Central Asia and South Asia. They reduce the debate to Kashmir with anti-Hindu overtones. The Indian self-declared ‘defence analysts’, euphemistically speaking, become fugitives when invited to participate in debates on India’s other neighbours. The smallest and religiously most rapidly radicalizing country Maldives gives them the biggest scare. They have absolutely no idea about the Pakistani footprints and machinations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives, therefore, their geopolitical vision is also limited to Kashmir and the ‘Military balance’ between the countries. The wider geopolitical and strategic discourse on Pakistan has become the exclusive preserve of the western writers.


By Chintamani Mahapatra

India Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in Expanded meeting with the US President, Mr. Barack Obama, at the White House, in Washington DC on September 30, 2014. Photo Credit India's Prime Minister Office. 

India’s hyperactive Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now widely known for his magic – the Modi Magic. His charisma made him popular ever since he began his tour of India to campaign for the parliamentary election and his charm became more widespread going beyond the borders of India soon after he became the Indian Prime Minister.

In one month, Prime Minister Modi has held three summit level meetings with three world leaders – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the US President Barack Obama. The Chinese leader announced an investment of US$20 billion to develop infrastructure in India; the Japanese leader declared an amount of US$35 billion and, while the American leader could make no such commitment, the US-Indian Business Council estimated that Modi’s visit to the US would bring about US$41 billion of investment to India.

Why the US president was not able to make an open commitment on investing in India is not unknown. It is the private corporate sector in the US that can make investment commitments and not the US administration. And, investment, after all, is not aid!

There is no doubt that Modi’s summit meeting with the US President was the most important among the three summits, not only because the US is a superpower, but because Washington’s approach towards the new government in Delhi would considerably impact China’s attitude and Japanese engagement vis-à-vis India.

Critics point out that Modi’s US visit was high on symbolism and low on substance. Some pointed out that the grand reception he received in New York was the handiwork of the Gujarati community in the US. It has also been argued that there was a big media hype in India about Modi’s US visit, but there was nothing of significant importance in the coverage by the US media. Still others complain that no new agreement was signed during the Modi-Obama summit, no big ticket item was proclaimed, and that there was nothing original in the joint statement issued by the two leaders.

These are actually criticisms for criticism’s shake. First of all, Modi’s address at the Madison Square was clearly aimed at the Indian American community and not just the Gujarati community. In fact, the short cultural programme before the Prime Minister’s arrival had an India flavour and the Rajasthani dance performance by Gujarati dancers symbolised the unity of India in diversity! The Prime Minister’s announcement of life time visas for overseas Indians (PIO and CIO) was not meant for the Gujarati community alone.

Secondly, American newspapers rarely give wide coverage to any one foreign leader, and Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with the US President in view of this fact was like such meetings in the White House, that is, almost a daily affair. Moreover, an article by the PM in The Wall Street Journal, a major voice of corporate America, and a joint article by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in the influential The Washington Post were quite uncommon feats.

Making up Asymmetric Deficit vis-à-vis China

13 Oct , 2014

China’s surging economic power has been matched by increasing military might including investments in an aircraft carrier, anti-ship ballistic missiles, satellites, modern weapon systems and other hardware. In contrast, a decade of neglect of the Indian Military has widened the capability gap vis-à-vis PLA exponentially. With the new government in power headed by a dynamic Prime Minister, there is speculation of a new era in India-China relations. However, it would be prudent to remember that it is the capabilities that matter even if intentions change overnight.

Pentagon reports indicate that China’s defence spending exceeded $145 billion last year…

Pentagon reports indicate that China’s defence spending exceeded $145 billion last year with considerable advances towards modernising an arsenal of drones, warships, jets, missiles and cyber weapons. Although denied by Beijing, actual defence spending by China has always been much higher than the official figures because of the massive corporate-business-industrial complex that the PLA privately owns. Pentagon also cited a Defence Science Board report cautioning Beijing’s push, “combines unlimited resources with technological awareness that might allow China to match or even outpace US spending on unmanned systems in future.”

Last September, a ‘probable’ Chinese drone was observed conducting reconnaissance over the East China Sea (ECS). China also unveiled details of her first stealth drone in 2013. In January 2014, China successfully tested a hypersonic missile vehicle designed to travel at – ten times the speed of sound. China is innately focused on technology acquisition. Spying and cloning are institutionalised. Reportedly, China has even stolen US stealth technologies through cyber spying and penetrated the FBI. Spying, snooping and reverse engineering have given China designs of the US F-I6, the B1 Bomber, the US Navy’s quiet electric drive, the US W-88 miniaturised nuke used in Trident Missiles, to name a few.

China is capitalising on her growing foreign policy reach into new markets offering low-priced products such as the J-10 and JF-17 fighters, missiles, radars and communication equipment. There have been instances of EU firms circumventing sanctions to provide new technologies to China on the pretext of dual use through ToT or JVs in China. China aims to achieve parity with the US in science and technology in three decades plus. The J-20 stealth fighter was developed in record time. The stealth fighter has been unveiled and stealth helicopters and vessels are soon to follow.

China is capitalising on her growing foreign policy reach into new markets offering low-priced products…

The Urgency

China’s surging economic power has been matched by increasing military might including investments in an aircraft carrier, anti-ship ballistic missiles, satellites, modern weapon systems and other hardware. In contrast, a decade of neglect of the Indian Military has widened the capability gap vis-à-vis PLA exponentially. With the new government in power headed by a dynamic Prime Minister, there is speculation of a new era in India-China relations. However, it would be prudent to remember that it is the capabilities that matter even if intentions change overnight.

China already has enormous military capability and her intentions are hardly friendly, as demonstrated in recent years to her neighbours in the ECS and South China Sea (SCS). Her aggressiveness can be gauged from ongoing confrontations with Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and others in the Asia Pacific and intrusions into Indian Territory. Philippines has approached the UN but China is conveying at various fora that she will not abide by international arbitration. China’s ‘Middle Kingdom’ mentality has egged her to claim parts of Russia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Central Asia and India.

Hong Kong Protests: What it means for the Chinese leadership?

October 10, 2014

Hong Kong is slated to have elections for the post of Chief Executive (CE) in 2017. However, there is a disagreement between sections of the Hong Kong civil society and Beijing on how these elections are to be conducted. In a nutshell, Hong Kong wants a free and fair democratic elections and not be told the list of candidates it can choose from. Beijing wants that it vets the final list of candidates, fearing probably a CE, who would be critical of government policies. Beijing’s desire to manage the political process in Hong Kong stems from the ‘one country two systems’ model whereby it continues to retain its influence. In all likelihood, it appears that the Occupy Central protests demanding the resignation of the present CE CY Leung would not end in a hurry. These popular protests are not only massive, involving between 20,000 and 50,000 people, but also peaceful drawing inspiration from one of the movement leader’s commentary last year highlighting the utility of civil disobedience. In addition, there are also “Global solidarity with Hong Kong” marches planned across Australia and North America.

This movement is led by a group of faculty from Hong Kong University and a teenager Joshua Wang Chi-fung, who has become the global face of Occupy Central. Its participants come from university students and the middle class. The pro-Beijing groups such as the Alliance for Peace and Democracy have undertaken initiatives like March for Peace to divert attention away from Occupy Central groups. Hong Kong business community, with their business linkages with the mainland, have stayed away from the movement and even criticised it from time to time for fears of its impact on their business. Therefore, it is crucial to see how Beijing responds to the developments. There are three factors that deserve attention; First, the legitimacy of the leadership, second, Chinese nationalism and third, the regional implications.

The recent official policy guidelines such as ‘China Dream’ and the ‘Great Chinese Rejuvenation’ are based on the revival of nationalism and form the principal pitch of Xi Jinping, the Chinese President and Secretary General of the CPC. Among other things, the ‘China Dream’ expresses an economically, militarily stronger and unified China. However, the recent unrest in Hong Kong is perhaps as big a challenge to this dream as the unrest in Xinjiang.

Political reforms in China have always been initiated and led from the top. The middle and lower rung leaders take the flak for any failure while maintaining the hallowedness of the top leaders. By challenging the idea of the ‘China Dream’, the protests in Hong Kong is being perceived as a threat to the leadership in Beijing. The ‘China Dream’ and the revival of the Chinese nation are now seen in conjunction with Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland. For President Xi, Occupy Central is undesirable.

China’s understanding of the wrongs in history involves foreigners’ conniving with the anti-national elements from within to weaken the country. If the developments in Hong Kong are to be interpreted on this line, it can be used to charge domestic anti-western nationalism in the mainland sending across a message that “China is angry”. There is a pattern of Chinese nationalism whereby outsiders seem to become easy targets if Chinese national identity is seen as being threatened. Beijing has drawn the red line on Hong Kong. The White Paper released in July 2014 says: “It is necessary to stay alert to the attempt of outside forces to use Hong Kong to interfere in China's domestic affairs, and prevent and repel the attempt made by a very small number of people who act in collusion with outside forces to interfere with the implementation of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong”.1.It will not take much time for mainland to see a foreign hand in the islanders’ pro-democracy movements. China has also already warned not to get close to the Occupy Central in anyway. Such pronouncements are a clear sign that while the news about Occupy Central will be restricted, it will be used selectively to revive anti-western nationalism in China.


By Miguel Otero-Iglesias

The aim of this paper is to understand China’s strategic behaviour towards the European Monetary Union (EMU).

The first section of this paper chronologically summarises China’s support for the single currency since its creation up to the Eurozone crisis. The second section explains why China has been so supportive. Beijing wants to move away from dollar hegemony and thus it favours a tripolar monetary system based on the US dollar, the euro and the Chinese Renminbi (RMB). With this in mind, China has continued to diversify its foreign reserves in euros, making it ‘too big to fail’. Finally, the third part focuses on how, by the end of 2011, China switched to a more cautious approach due to the difficulty involved in rescuing the Eurozone. The unwillingness of Europe’s leaders to enter a strategic bargaining process has convinced policymakers in Beijing of the wisdom of keeping a lower profile while making sure the euro’s value remains stable.


China’s unequivocal support for the euro

From the early days of EMU, the emergence of the euro as a potential challenger to the US dollar was greeted favourably by China. Chinese policymakers have never been satisfied with dollar unipolarity and thus they welcomed the euro as a counter-balance. With trillions of reserves accumulated over the past decade, diversification of currencies, especially into the euro, has always been one of the Chinese government’s main aims.

It is common knowledge that the currency distribution of China’s foreign reserves is a state secret. Nonetheless, in an article published in 2010 in the China Securities Journal, unnamed managers from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) disclosed that at the end of the decade (note that this was before the euro crisis) China’s reserves[2] were roughly similar to the global average: 65% were in US dollars, 26% in euros, 5% in Sterling and 3% in Japanese yen (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Global distribution of foreign exchange reserves, 1995-2011

Source: COFER, IMF.

More Amphibious Ships for Chinese navy

October 13, 2014

As the Chinese national day golden week passed, a lot of really high quality photos from PLAN bases were posted online. As newer ships get commissioned and the oldest ships get retired, many other ships get moved between different flotillas. In the past year, the main mass produced ships have been the type 052C/D series destroyers and the type 056 light frigate. It has certainly been a busy year when we factor in the other new ships. This past month, we are seeing what appears to be the modules of the 4th Type 071 LPD really taking shape at Hudong shipyard. On top of that, production for the smaller Type 072A landing ships have restarted and the first one has launched at WuChong Shipyard as No. 981.

Type 071 can be effectively used for South China Sea and Taiwan scenarios, but provide the additional blue water capabilities that Chinese navy never had. The restart of Type 072 series is aimed at either replacing older landing ships or responding to the increased tension in South China sea. Either way, it shows that Chinese navy will continue to have landing ships of this class for green water missions. PLAN has taken the approach of continuing to build modern littoral ships like Type 056 and Type 022 series while it is building up its blue water navy. The restart of Type 072A seems to be a continuation of this approach of building cheaper and less capable surface combatants for traditional missions. PLAN's identity certainly has not transformed to that to a power projecting blue water navy like USN.

The picture below shows modules from the new Type 071 under construction:

We first started to see photos of Type 071 under construction in 2006 and it was launched by the end of that year. It was commissioned by the end of 2007, but the process of learning to operate this new behemoth has been ongoing since. The second and third Type 071s launched in quick succession in late 2010 and 2011 while joining service a year later. There were speculations of modules for a 4th Type 071 at the time 3rd one was launched, but were proven to be false.

So, why have we not seen more Type 071 until now? There is both the human factor and also the supporting system factor. In the former case, PLAN and PLAMC have really just started operating something with the size ond blue water projection of Type 071. No. 998 was sent out on to Gulf of Aden relatively early on and other Type 071 units have been sent since. Most recently this year, all 3 Type 071s were out on different missions at the same time showing their value of this blue water asset to PLAN. It seems like at the time that PLA really needed more units of this class. Even so, only in the past couple of years have we seen the marine corp starting to conduct large scale amphibious exercises in South China Sea involving Type 071 + helicopters/hovercrafts/boats operating from it. All of this shows that it really takes time to recruit the personnel and train the crew member and the new marines to operate something like Type 071. At the same time, all 3 Type 071s have been assigned to the Zhanjiang naval base and there is probably a limit to how many Type 071s that base can handle before needing further expansion. So even if Hudong shipyard is capable of building one a year, PLA may not be able to accept them at that pace even if it has high need for this series. I don't see this as a problem, since it just gives them more time to identify problems and make incremental updates to the ship.

Time for American Land-Based Missile Forces to Counter China?

October 14, 2014

The finale of an important debate on the rise of Chinese missiles forces and what the United States should do about it. 

Should the United States develop its own land-based missile forces, even if doing so means adapting or abandoning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?

To sustain a strategy of forward defense in the face of China’s growing missile arsenal, Washington may need to consider options that would have seemed implausible just a few years ago, and that clearly remain controversial today. Of course, revising arms-control agreements and investing in new capabilities are major decisions. In his latest response to my previous articles, Matthew Hallex raises a number of operational, diplomatic and economic concerns, all of which merit serious consideration. Rather than repeating my earlier arguments, let me conclude this debate by highlighting three areas of disagreement.

First, Hallex notes that forward-based missile forces would not have the same degree of flexibility as other capabilities. Specifically, whereas missiles located in the first island chain would only have utility in East Asia, undersea warfare and long-range strike platforms have global reach. Yet this lack of flexibility can be a virtue, rather than a vice. Submarines and bombers are potent weapons, but their ability to deter adversaries and assure allies can be limited by the fact that they usually operate out of sight, are based far from the theater and may be drawn away when other contingencies arise. Moreover, it is precisely because missile forces would have a narrow mission that they could provide the United States with enhanced bargaining leverage. Although Washington is unlikely to trade away assets that have significant value across a range of scenarios, it might be willing to sacrifice assets that have a more limited role—for the right price.

Second, Hallex writes off land-based missile forces in part because the Army, which is the natural candidate to man and maintain them, would be unwilling to pursue this option at the expense of other capabilities that it believes are more relevant, from infantry units to heavy brigade combat teams. Indeed, the Army does seem reticent to embrace missions such as coastal defense and long-range strike, despite its long history with both. Yet Service preferences should not be allowed to trump higher-level strategic decisions, even though they can be barriers to change. In fact, developing new land-based missiles could help the Army make a stronger case for preserving its budget share as the United States rebalances its attention and resources toward the Asia-Pacific region.

A New Chapter in U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation

OCT 10, 2014

On October 8, the U.S. and Japanese governments issued an interim report on a review of the guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation. The guidelines were first introduced in 1978 to clarify alliance priorities for the defense of Japan during the Cold War and then updated in 1997 with added emphasis on regional security. This latest review commenced earlier this year and is intended to reflect changes in the security environment and incorporate new strategies in both countries centered on strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance. The interim report outlines priorities for defense cooperation in a bilateral, regional, and global context and establishes a framework for a formal revision of the guidelines due at the end of this year.

Q1: What is the strategic context for the defense guidelines review?

A1: The U.S.-Japan Alliance has been the cornerstone of regional security for over six decades. A bilateral security treaty obligates the United States to defend Japan in exchange for access to bases in Japan for maintaining regional peace and security. This core element of the alliance remains intact, but bilateral cooperation has evolved over time in response to changes in the security environment. Multiple challenges in the Asia-Pacific region now place a premium on furthering bilateral defense cooperation to strengthen deterrence and promote rules and norms that favor stability. Japan recently introduced a defense strategy to strengthen its defense capabilities and work more closely with the United States and other partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and this coincides with the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific based on robust alliance relationships as a foundation for shaping the regional security environment. The review of the guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation presents an opportunity to further integrate the strategies as well as the military capabilities of the two governments and enhance coordination bilaterally and with other like-minded countries.

Q2: What does the interim report cover?

A2: In October 2013, the bilateral Security Consultative Committee (SCC), composed of the U.S. secretaries of state and defense and their Japanese counterparts, issued a strategic vision for the U.S.-Japan Alliance and called for a review of the guidelines to enhance alliance cooperation bilaterally, regionally, and globally. The interim report identifies potential priorities in each of those areas beginning with a range of measures to ensure the peace and security of Japan. Proposed areas of emphasis under this category include maritime security, air and missile defense, training and exercises, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The interim report notes that the revised guidelines will reference bilateral cooperation in situations involving an armed attack against Japan but also in case of an armed attack against a country that is in a close relationship with Japan. This reflects a recent decision by the Abe government to reinterpret the Japanese constitution to exercise the right of collective self-defense, though the details of this new policy are subject to parliamentary debate, and supporting legislation likely won’t be submitted before 2015.

Japan lawmakers to visit controversial war shrine

by Staff WritersTokyo (AFP) 
Oct 14, 2014
Dozens of Japanese politicians, possibly including cabinet ministers, are poised to visit a Tokyo shrine condemned by China and Korea as a symbol of Tokyo's militarist past, as it begins its autumn festival this week.

A cross-party group of national lawmakers plans to go to Yasukuni Shrine en masse on Friday as it kicks off the four-day festival.

However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who infuriated Beijing and Seoul by visiting the shrine in December last year, is thought unlikely to go.

He will attend an Asia-Europe summit in Milan set for Thursday and Friday and is believed to have one eye on budding signs of an improved relationship with China, with view to a possible summit on the sidelines of a major international meeting next month.

The parliamentarians' group said it does not know how many will join Friday's visit.

In recent years, dozens of lawmakers have participated in the shrine's spring and autumn festivals as well as the August 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

The 145-year-old Shinto shrine honours some 2.5 million citizens who died in World War II and other conflicts.

But it is highly controversial because war criminals are among their number, including senior figures in the WWII administration, such as General Hideki Tojo, who authorised the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Japan's neighbours view pilgrimages there by high-profile politicians as an insult and a painful reminder of Tokyo's aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

With Abe expected to stay away, eyes will be on his cabinet.

On Tuesday internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi suggested she would pay homage at the shrine, although not necessarily during the mass visit.

"I have offered my gratitude and respect to the souls (of the war dead) in spring, summer and autumn every year as well as on other occasions," she said.

"I'd like to pay homage when I have time," she told reporters, according to Jiji Press news agency.

The Air War Against the Islamic State: The Need for An “Adequacy of Resources”

OCT 13, 2014

The United States has stated from the start that it is conducting an air campaign to degrade the Islamic State, not to change the military situation in Syria or to substitute for Iraqi political unity and the eventual use of Iraqi ground forces. This, however, raises several key questions:

o What level of effort will be required over time to achieve America’s stated goal, and how will the air campaign have to change? So far, the air campaign has been minimal by any recent historical standard, and so limited that it is hard to see how it can be effective in either protecting Iraq from further gains by the Islamic State, critically degrading it in Syria, or providing humanitarian relief to threatened minorities, like the Kurds.

o Can Iraq build the necessary level of political cooperation and effective ground forces? There has been some Iraqi political progress, but no clear progress in bringing Sunni tribes and factions back into active political or military support of the central government. Nor has there been much progress in creating effective unity and cooperation with the Iraqi Kurds and Pesh Merga, or producing a greater capability on the part of the Iraqi Army.

o Can the US avoid intervening in the civil war in Syria either against Assad, or in conducting a major air effort to protect the Kurds, moderate rebel groups, and the Sunni civil population? The US has certainly tried to limit its targeting and the size of its air strikes, but so far has not demonstrated that the current level of air and cruise missile strikes has halted Islamic State gains against the Kurds in Syria or in Anbar in Iraq, and the start of such strikes has led to Turkish and Syria Kurdish pressure to intervene at much higher levels and expand the air campaign to secure zones and other efforts designed to remove Assad.

o Can the US and its allies find ways of dealing with the steadily growing humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq? Strategic goals are of critical importance, but so are ethnics and morality.

These questions have become more, not less, important over the last few months. Two months into the air campaign, it has had some effect, but seems to be doing too little, too slowly, failing to have the necessary impact in Iraq, and drifting towards major mission creep in Syria. Each of the major risks that it is intended to address remains as serious or more serious than when the air campaign began, and the creation of a US, Arab, European alliance has only had marginal impact.

A new analysis by the Burke Chair at CSIS compares the level of effort in the air war against the Islamic State with the air wars in liberating Kuwait in 1991, Kosovo in 1999, invading Iraq in 2003-2011, and Afghanistan in 2001-2014. This analysis looks at the numbers and trends in each conflict, and strongly suggests that the present effort is too small and too slow to achieve its desired result and may fail to address any of the questions and risks outlines above and in the report.
This analysis is entitled The Air War Against the Islamic State: The Need for An “Adequacy of Resources,” and is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/The Air War Against the Islamic State.pdf

Kurds Claim That They Have Halted ISIS Advance on Syrian Town of Kobani

October 13, 2014

Activists: Kurds halt jihadi advance in Syria town

MURSITPINAR, Turkey (AP) — Kurdish fighters have been able to halt the advance of the Islamic State extremist group in the Syrian border town of Kobani, where the U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes for more than two weeks, activists said Sunday.

The coalition, which is targeting the militants in and around Kobani, conducted at least two airstrikes Sunday on the town, according to an Associated Press journalist. The U.S. Central Command said warplanes from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates conducted four airstrikes in Syria on Saturday and Sunday, including three in Kobani that destroyed an Islamic State fighting position and staging area.

The Syrian Kurdish enclave has been the scene of heavy fighting since late last Month, with the heavily armed Islamic State fighters determined to capture the border post and deal a symbolic blow to the coalition air campaign.

The extremist group has carved out a vast stretch of territory stretching hundreds of miles from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad and imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule. The fighters have massacred hundreds of captured Iraqi and Syrian soldiers, terrorized religious minorities, and beheaded two American journalists and two British aid workers.

The U.S. has been speaking with Turkish officials about stepped up efforts to equip and train Syrian rebels battling both the Islamic State group and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. U.S. and European military officials will travel to Turkey this week to meet with officials there and discuss the different ways Turkey can contribute.

On Sunday, a Turkish government official confirmed that Ankara has agreed with the U.S. to train 4,000 Syrian opposition fighters vetted by Turkish intelligence. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State militants have not been able to advance in Kobani since Friday but are sending in reinforcements. The Observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, said the group appears to have a shortage of fighters and has brought in members of its religious police known as the Hisbah to take part in the battles.

Since the offensive on Kobani began, some 550 people have been killed, including about 300 Islamic State fighters, 225 Kurdish gunmen and 20 civilians, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists across Syria. It said the number of jihadists killed could be much higher.

Farhad Shami, a Kurdish activist in Kobani reached by phone from Beirut, said the town was “relatively quiet” on Sunday apart from sniper fire. He said Islamic State fighters launched an offensive south of the town on Saturday but were repelled and lost many fighters.

The Jihadist Popularity Contest

By Schuyler Moore
October 13, 2014

The battle of ideology and allegiance between Islamic State and al-Qaeda is changing the face of jihad in Asia and the world. 

In the wake of the territorial gains made by the Islamic State (IS) in recent months, its threat has been framed in the context of IS against the Iraqi government; IS against the Syrian government; IS against the West. These contests should not be downplayed, for their outcomes will have a massive impact on global affairs for years to come. But there is another, more subtle battle that stands to have even greater repercussions. IS is currently fighting a battle of ideology and allegiance against its older, more established cousin al-Qaeda, the outcome of which will define the not only the future of IS but the future of the global jihad and international security interests.

Ever since IS made its blitzkrieg debut in Iraq, al-Qaeda has been increasingly vocal in its opposition to IS operations. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader, has publically warned against IS’s attempts to bring al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, under IS influence. He has also expressed al-Qaeda’s more general concern regarding the overly aggressive methodology and ideological tone of IS. In recent months, this competition has taken on an international flavor. Syria, Iraq, and the surrounding region have been the most obvious areas of contention, with al-Qaeda and al-Nusra attracting the support of other regional groups like theJordanian Salafist-jihadists, while IS ranks have swelled with new recruits. However, the competition has spread well beyond the immediate regional context. IS recently strengthened ties with extremist movements in Southeast Asia, with groups like Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fights (BIFF) pledging their allegiance to the IS cause. In the meantime, Zawahiri publically announced that he intended to extend al-Qaeda’s influence and the global jihad by starting a branch in India. IS’s meteoric rise has drawn in new recruits from all over the world, but its popularity has also led to a decline in perceived influence of al-Qaeda and has shaken the status quo of the global jihad.

Two Roads Diverged in a Desert

The global jihad is at a crossroads. If al-Qaeda prevails and reestablishes its authority, the dynamics of the global jihad, while still unstable, will at least maintain a familiar form. A return to the status quo with al-Qaeda will stem the flow of jihadists to IS, halting its momentum and allowing the U.S. and the international community to more effectively counter its efforts. But if IS manages to maintain its momentum and push al-Qaeda into the shadows, the size and scope of the regional conflict and the global jihad as a whole will change dramatically. Its violent methods may have been driven in part by the realization that shocking acts of brutality keep the spotlight focused on IS, and the group may ultimately moderate its methods as it becomes more established and the immediate crisis fades. However, regardless of future IS strategy, its current actions are creating momentum towards a more violent form of jihad that will be difficult to harness or reverse. There is already evidence of this as various groups have strengthened their ties to IS, simultaneously pledging their allegiance and ramping up the aggression of their operations, as in the case of the recent Algerian beheading. These instances suggest a trend towards increased violence that will continue even if IS ultimately tones down its own actions and rhetoric.

The Islamic State’s Oil Network

October 10, 2014 
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 19

Baiji Refinery, Iraq's largest, has been the site of clashes between the Islamic State and Iraqi forces. (Source: STR/EPA/Landov)

The Islamic State, previously the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has been a key focus of global attention for the past several months, becoming the number one terrorist target for the United States and its Western allies. [1] However, one of the remarkable but little known features about this terrorist organization is how it operates a significant oil and gas network in both Syria and northern Iraq as a key source of its funding. These militants, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) chief Adam Sieminski, “produce as much as 100,000 oil barrels per day (bpd), reaching $9.6 million in the world markets. The expectation for Islamic State militants’ oil income is less than this amount” (BasNews, September 25). Restricting the ability of the Islamic State to derive revenue from this oil network for its terrorist operations has been a key focus of U.S. military strategy and Western diplomatic activity since the organization became the latest strategic threat to American interests in the Middle East.

On September 23, U.S. fighter jets attacked over a dozen modular and makeshift oil facilities operated by the Islamic State in both Syria and in Iraq. According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), 13 of the airstrikes were against 12 modular oil refineries in Syria controlled by Islamic State fighters, along with the al-Tanak oil field in the Mayadin and Albu Kamal areas of Deir al-Zor province as well as the Qouriyeh oil-producing area. Deir al-Zor, which borders Iraq, is now almost entirely controlled by the Islamic State, but was a major Syrian oil-producing province before Syria’s civil war began more than three years ago. Furthermore, on September 28, the United States and its allies conducted eight air attacks against Islamic State positions in Syria. Among their targets were four makeshift oil refineries. [2]

Internationally, the United Nations also has recognized the importance of the Islamic State’s oil operations. On August 15, 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2170 under the binding Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which deployed sanctions against the “Islamic State” and “Nusra Front” to disrupt the financing resources of these two militant organizations, included banning the purchase of oil from them and imposing sanctions on companies that do so. [3]

Despite the level of international attention to the oil revenue component of the Islamic State’s operations, little is known about the production and trade of oil and other illicit activities that have made the Islamic State one of the world’s leading terrorist organizations.

The Nature of the Islamic State’s Oil Activities

In the convoluted picture emerging in the no-man’s-land between Syria and Iraq where Islamic State militants dominate, reports began to surface in early June that Islamic State fighters were selling looted Syrian oil to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. According to Shiraz Maher, senior research fellow and head of outreach at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College London, the Islamic State was selling oil from the territory that it controls back to the al-Assad government in Damascus. Maher observed, “It [the Syrian regime] will act in its own self-interest and that will mean cutting a Faustian pact with the fighters of ISIS for the time being” (New Statesman [London], June 23; VOA, June 20).

Our failing war against the Islamic State

By Eugene Robinson 
October 13

Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting continued between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

It’s not too soon to state the obvious: At this point, the war against the Islamic State can be seen only as failing.

U.S.-led air power has barely been able to keep the jihadist militants from capturing the Syrian town of Kobane, near the Turkish border — and the besieged city may yet fall. Far to the southeast, Islamic State fighters have come within a few miles of Baghdad and threaten to consolidate their control of the vast Anbar Province, the Sunni heartland of Iraq. The self-proclaimed “caliphate” remains intact, and its forces are advancing.

Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section. 

Intervention by the world’s mightiest military force has produced no shock and no awe. To be sure, U.S. and coalition airstrikes are inflicting some damage on Islamic State troops and equipment. But the bombing has done virtually nothing to alter the strategic balance of power — or to boost the fortunes of our ostensible allies on the ground, the “moderate” Syrian rebels and the hapless Iraqi military.

Why, then, are we fighting this war?

President Obama was reluctant — for good reason — to get involved in the Syrian civil war or renew U.S. military involvement in Iraq. His airstrikes-only strategy reflects that caution. But results so far suggest the president might as well have followed his original instincts and stayed out.

Asked at a conference in Cairo about the desperate situation in Kobane, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Kobane does not “define” the U.S.-led coalition’s strategy in taking on the Islamic State. Kerry added that “the focus of where we ought to be focusing first . . . is in Iraq.”

But it is in Iraq where the Islamic State has been taking new territory and consolidating earlier gains. Jihadist militants are fighting for control of key cities in Anbar province, such as Fallujah and Ramadi, and they have even launched attacks in the Abu Ghraib district, on the outskirts of sprawling Baghdad. U.S. forces recently conducted helicopter missions to ease the threat that the militants might seize areas around the city’s international airport.

Coalition commanders seek plan to counter IS advance

by Staff Writers
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) 
Oct 14, 2014

Turkey denies deal with US on anti-IS strikes

Istanbul (AFP) Oct 13, 2014 - Turkey on Monday denied it struck a deal with Washington allowing US forces to use Turkish air bases for bombing raids against Islamic State (IS) militants inside Syria but confirmed it had agreed to help train Syrian rebels.

Ankara has come under increasing Western pressure to step up assistance for the US-led coalition against IS, as Kurdish fighters battle the jihadists for the town of Kobane just a few kilometres from the Turkish border.

But the Turkish government vehemently denied statements by US officials it was allowing US forces to carry out bombing raids from the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

"We are holding intense negotiations with our allies. But there are not any new developments about Incirlik," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

The US air force already uses the Incirlik base for logistical and humanitarian purposes but would need additional authorisation from Ankara to launch bombing raids.

"There is no new agreement with the United States about Incirlik," an official, who asked not to be named, told AFP earlier in Ankara.

"Negotiations are continuing" based on conditions Turkey had previously laid out such as a safe zone inside Syria backed up by a no-fly zone, the official added.

A senior US defence official said Sunday that Turkey had granted the US forces access to its air bases, including Incirlik, for the bombing campaign against IS.

"Details of usage are still being worked out," the US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

However in a barb at the US, Arinc said: "Different people can make different statements that go beyond their purpose or with the intention of satisfying their own public."

Located in southern Turkey in Adana province a short distance from the Syrian border, Incirlik would be an ideal start point for US forces to launch air strikes against IS inside Syria.