19 April 2016

* Marshal Zhukov on Alexander’s failed India invasion


27 May 2013,  Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Alexander’s invasion of India is regarded as a huge Western victory against the disorganised East. But according to Marshal Gregory Zhukov, the largely Macedonian army suffered a fate worse than Napoleon in Russia.
Handing victory in India to Alexander is like describing Hitler as the conqueror of Russia because the Germans advanced up to Stalingrad. Source: wikipedia.org
In 326 BCE a formidable European army invaded India. Led by Alexander of Macedon it comprised battle hardened Macedonian soldiers, Greek cavalry, Balkan fighters and Persians allies. The total number of fighting men numbered more than 41,000.
Their most memorable clash was at the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum) against the army of Porus, the ruler of the Paurava kingdom of western Punjab. For more than 25 centuries it was believed that Alexander’s forces defeated the Indians. Greek and Roman accounts say the Indians were bested by the superior courage and stature of the Macedonians.
Two millennia later, British historians latched on to the Alexander legend and described the campaign as the triumph of the organised West against the chaotic East. Although Alexander defeated only a few minor kingdoms in India’s northwest, in the view of many gleeful colonial writers the conquest of India was complete.
In reality much of the country was not even known to the Greeks. So handing victory to Alexander is like describing Hitler as the conqueror of Russia because the Germans advanced up to Stalingrad.

Zhukov’s view of Alexander
In 1957, while addressing the cadets of the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, Zhukov said Alexander’s actions after the Battle of Hydaspes suggest he had suffered an outright defeat. In Zhukov’s view, Alexander had suffered a greater setback in India than Napoleon in Russia. Napoleon had invaded Russia with 600,000 troops; of these only 30,000 survived, and of that number fewer than 1,000 were ever able to return to duty.
So if Zhukov was comparing Alexander’s campaign in India to Napoleon’s disaster, the Macedonians and Greeks must have retreated in an equally ignominious fashion. Zhukov would know a fleeing force if he saw one; he had chased the German Army over 2000 km from Stalingrad to Berlin.

No easy victories
Alexander’s troubles began as soon as he crossed the Indian border. He first faced resistance in the Kunar, Swat, Buner and Peshawar valleys where the Aspasioi and Assakenoi, known in Hindu texts as Ashvayana and Ashvakayana, stopped his advance. Although small by Indian standards they did not submit before Alexander’s killing machine.

* Loss of lives in Kashmir can't be business as usual The biggest challenge for the security forces is to ensure they do not play into the hands of anti-India elements.

4-04-2016, GAURAV C SAWANT
"A lie can travel halfway across the world before truth can even put its shoes on," aptly sums up the latest round of rumour-mongering in Kashmir and the current situation in the Valley. There is a pattern to this. From the rumour of desecration of graves in Pulwama to the alleged molestation in Handwara, it's like a rerun of "summer of discontent" in Kashmir.
The headlines and the pictures are all too familiar but not for the families of the victims. Only their loss is real. But that really doesn’t matter either to those who spread the rumours, those who take pictures, those who write headlines or those put down the agitation. Except for the families of those killed and injured – civilians or soldiers – nobody else really cares. For everyone else, it's all in a day’s work.
According to the Army, the year 2016 has so far been the most successful year in terms of anti-terrorist operations since 2011.
This is something the "agitating crowds" need to realise. "No terrorist graves were desecrated in Pulwama by soldiers. But a rumour was deliberately spread and it led to tension.
Similarly, the girl in Handwara herself told the police she was not molested. Some youth in school uniform spread the rumour and within minutes a mob assembled and started stone pelting. It went on for three hours," a top officer monitoring the developments in Jammu and Kashmir told me.
This he says is just the beginning. More rumours will be spread and more street protests and stone pelting mobs will be organised in the weeks to come. The reason? According to the Army, the year 2016 has so far been the most successful year in terms of anti-terrorist operations since 2011.

In the past three months, the Army has neutralised 26 terrorists. The Army confidently asserts that it is on top of the situation both in the north and south of the Pir Panjal. In the south of Pir Panjal, in the Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch and Rajauri areas, there has been no major terrorist activities in the past two years.
The coordination between the Army, state police and the local people have more or less ensured foreign terrorists don’t find a safe haven here. Local intelligence inputs have been very positive," an official says. In south Kashmir, separatists have been re-asserting themselves. Pulwama, Anantnag, Tral and Shopian have seen a spike in both agitations, protests and activities of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists. But the security forces have successfully engaged terrorists given sharp ground level intelligence inputs.

India wants to be the ‘most beautiful woman’, wooed by all: Chinese media
"This is not an unfamiliar role to India. We can still recall how its diplomatic manoeuvring had earned itself a special role between the two competing blocs during the Cold War," it said.
By: PTI  Beijing Updated: Apr 18, 2016, )

The article appeared in the opinion section of Global Times.
Playing down India’s decision to sign a logistic agreement with the US, Chinese state media today said the proposed deal is stalled because of distrust between the two as India wants to be the “most beautiful woman” wooed by all, especially Washington and Beijing.
“Besides their traditional distrust, the speculation heralding a US-India alliance is also an obvious underestimation of India’s ambition for a role of swing-state between superpowers,” an article in the state-run Global Times said as Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar started his first visit to Beijing today for talks with Chinese officials.
“The basic idea is that India would like to continue to be the most beautiful woman wooed by all men, notably the two strongest in the house, US and China,” the article titled ‘Indo-US strategic distrust stalls LSA signing’.

“This is not an unfamiliar role to India. We can still recall how its diplomatic manoeuvring had earned itself a special role between the two competing blocs during the Cold War,” it said.
“Evidently enough, it needs to feel its way forward and try not to agitate China by crossing the bottom line and consequently it declines to discuss the prospect of joint patrols in the South China Sea, despite the obvious interest and much enthusiasm from its American counterpart,” it said.
Last week, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter concluded his three-day visit to India and announced he and his Indian counterpart have agreed in-principle that all the issues regarding a Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) are resolved and both sides would finalise the text in the coming weeks.
Highlighting India’s decision to sign the LSA, the report said: “Despite a whole range of strategic issues being covered in the visit, the topic of the logistics agreement itself has triggered speculation among international media that both sides are boarding the same boat to contain China.”

India wants to be the ‘most beautiful woman’, wooed by all: Chinese media

"This is not an unfamiliar role to India. We can still recall how its diplomatic manoeuvring had earned itself a special role between the two competing blocs during the Cold War," it said.

The article appeared in the opinion section of Global Times. Playing down India’s decision to sign a logistic agreement with the US, Chinese state media today said the proposed deal is stalled because of distrust between the two as India wants to be the “most beautiful woman” wooed by all, especially Washington and Beijing.
“Besides their traditional distrust, the speculation heralding a US-India alliance is also an obvious underestimation of India’s ambition for a role of swing-state between superpowers,” an article in the state-run Global Times said as Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar started his first visit to Beijing today for talks with Chinese officials.
“The basic idea is that India would like to continue to be the most beautiful woman wooed by all men, notably the two strongest in the house, US and China,” the article titled ‘Indo-US strategic distrust stalls LSA signing’.
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“This is not an unfamiliar role to India. We can still recall how its diplomatic manoeuvring had earned itself a special role between the two competing blocs during the Cold War,” it said.
“Evidently enough, it needs to feel its way forward and try not to agitate China by crossing the bottom line and consequently it declines to discuss the prospect of joint patrols in the South China Sea, despite the obvious interest and much enthusiasm from its American counterpart,” it said.
Last week, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter concluded his three-day visit to India and announced he and his Indian counterpart have agreed in-principle that all the issues regarding a Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) are resolved and both sides would finalise the text in the coming weeks.
Highlighting India’s decision to sign the LSA, the report said: “Despite a whole range of strategic issues being covered in the visit, the topic of the logistics agreement itself has triggered speculation among international media that both sides are boarding the same boat to contain China.”
In essence, the LSA’s purpose is to share military bases for logistical purposes, including refuelling and repair.
“Therefore it is very much similar to the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), a traditional agreement the US has with many of its NATO allies,” the article said.
“That’s why it has triggered speculation that both sides are moving toward a military alliance arrangement”, it said.
In 2007, the US and Sri Lanka signed an ACSA to allow exchange of logistics supplies during peacekeeping missions, humanitarian operations, and joint exercises.
- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/india-wants-to-be-the-most-beautiful-woman-wooed-by-all-chinese-media/#sthash.HRrPwUKW.dpuf

What will Parrikar achieve in China?

April 17, 2016
'China refuses to talk to India on nuclear or ballistic missile issues and conclude any de-targeting agreement as Beijing did with Russia or a non-targeting agreement with the US.'
Srikanth Kondapalli, one of India's leading China watchers, looks at the likely outcome of Defence Minister Maonhar Parrikar's visit to China. 
IDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar has embarked on his maiden visit to China, with meetings at Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu. Parrikar's visit could yield significant results in the bilateral military cooperation with China.
Significant aspects of the visit include furthering the modalities to implement the 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, BDCA, and control periodic border transgressions on the undefined borders, establishing regular communications at the strategic levels between the Director Generals of Military Operations and at the tactical levels on the borders, and other measures.
In Beijing he is expected to hold discussions with his counterpart Chang Wanquan. Unlike Parrikar, China's defence minister is not powerful and acts as a figurehead.
More significant meetings will be with the first Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, General Fan Chanlong, who visited India reportedly at his own initiative last November.

The Chengdu visit is also significant as it has now become the integrated headquarters for the Western Theatre Command since December 2015 and has military operational jurisdiction over areas contiguous to the entire Indian borders.
Parrikar is not the first defence minister to visit China. K C Pant made a stopover visit from Pyonyang in 1987, followed by Sharad Pawar in July 1992, George Fernandes in April 2003, Pranab Mukherjee in May 2006 and A K Antony in July 2013.
During Pawar's visit the Chinese side proposal to sell military equipment was turned down with their quality problems. After making the 'potential enemy number one' statement preceding the 1998 nuclear tests, Fernandes' visit during the SARS epidemic earned him accolades also because he suggested that China is a 'friend.' Mukherjee's visit institutionalised ties with the annual defence dialogues, seven of them concluded by 2015.

Demilitarisation in Kashmir: Technology a Partial Answer

Rahul Bhonsle

Apr 16, 2016

The ides of March are behind us but for Kashmir the summer of discontent appears to be brewing. The National Institute of Technology (NIT) episode has left a bitter taste amongst the people in the Valley as well as outside. Followed, soon after by the unfortunate death of the youths in Handwara, security managers in the Valley are likely to have their hands full in the coming months.
Not that the trend was unexpected. With an all time low in the number of terrorists in the Valley estimated to be anything between 150 to 200 and an improved flow of information from the public top guns of the Hizbul Muhajideen and the Lashkar e Taiyyaba are being eliminated by the joint forces particularly in South Kashmir.
There is disconcert amongst the terrorists groups and mistrust is leading to many left over elements amongst the hard core going underground. They need some oxygen for survival.
On the other hand the Mehbooba Mufti government has taken office after a long delay. The coalition is particularly irksome to the nay sayers in Kashmir to say the least. These miscreants are likely to test the Chief Minister in the coming days.
The Establishment in Pakistan caught in the conspiracy of Panama Papers leak have already raised the bogey of Indian interference in Balochistan, the Kashmir section of the ISI would be obviously looking to fish in the troubled waters in J & K.
Social media provides an ideal tool for miscommunication and is being extensively used for spreading of rumours to incite passion.
Handwara is the latest example where allegations of molestation of a girl by army personnel were used as a trigger. The Indian Express of 14 April states that the girl has denied molestation and accused local youth of a conspiracy, “The girl, however, has denied she was molested and accused two local youths of hatching a conspiracy”. Human rights groups have raised concerns over revelation of identity of the girl in the video thus jeopardising her security.
In the hot tinderbox of passion such misinformation is enough for a mob to collect and charge the posts of security personnel.
The aim of the rabble rousers who are in the rear rather than in the front is obvious provoke a violent reaction.
A veteran army soldier in the Valley is extremely cautious in pulling the trigger on a crowd, he will do so only in self defence.
It is apparent that the piquet in Handwara had no other option but being lynched by the mob. The soldiers who pulled the trigger would be the first to repent the youth who died as a consequence, no Indian army trooper is ever happy in such a situation.
For the miscreants the protests that followed were another opportunity for provoking firing and it appears with five deaths already they have achieved their objective.
The call for demilitarisation has grown shriller.
Yet presence of the military in some critical areas in the Valley is felt necessary.

Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India

March 12, 2016 Reports
Author: S. Chandrashekar

To read the complete report click here
In your paper you talk about the connections between space assets, nuclear weapons and conventional war. Can you tell us a bit more on how these are connected?

Ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear weapons and conventional war have always been connected. The dawn of the space age through the launch of Sputnik was made possible because of the development of ICBMs. Of course missiles became the preferred delivery system for both nuclear and conventional weapons. Satellites because of their vantage point in space cover large areas on the ground. Military interests for both offence and defence have always wanted to control the high ground. Space is no exception to this desire. Space assets have always played a major role in the war strategies of major space powers.
If this were so space would have always been a contested ground. However international concerns about the weaponization of space seem to have more recent origins. What has changed in the world space order for these renewed emerging concerns?

The Cold war Period of the space age saw the emergence of what can be called the sanctuary regime in space where the desire to preserve stability and the peace limited the military uses of space to what we currently call the ISR functions where information provided by satellites maintained the peace. This also saw an international space order dominated by the USA and the USSR – who established this sanctuary regime – associated with what is even today described as the peaceful uses of outer space.
Reagan’s Star Wars initiative led to a change and conferred greater legitimacy to space weapons – that moved from testing to keeping technology options open – towards possible deployment.

India’s Nuclear Concerns: Obama Responds

March 29, 2016 Outreach Publications

South Asian Voices, March 28, 2016
Arun Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies

I trust my letter finds you well. I look forward to welcoming you to Washington for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). With the cherry blossoms blooming across the city, it is an excellent time to visit. 

The NSS process, which began in 2010, has been an interesting journey. As a result of this process and the commitment shown by world leaders like yourself, the number of countries ratifying the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) and the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM/A) has gone up. In addition, the global stocks of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) in the civilian sector have also come down.

To read the complete article click here

Valley of errors - The Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Kashmir

Politics and Play- Ramachandra Guha

Both during and after the 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi told voters that they had given the Congress 60 years in power, and all he asked for was 60 months. His supporters on social media use that same trope, albeit in more forceful language. All that is wrong with India, they assert, is the product of 60 years of Congress (mis)rule. The Congress, for its part, retorts that all that is right with India must likewise be a product of their years, or decades, in power.
One place where things have mostly gone wrong for India since Independence in 1947 is the Valley of Kashmir. The place has always been troubled; many, and at times perhaps a majority, of its residents have never been entirely comfortable with being part of our republic. Now the Valley is seething with discontent once more. There is deep resentment at the paltry compensation given to the victims of the terrible floods of 2014. The attempts to enforce a beef ban in the Valley have been (rightly) opposed. The promises made by the Bharatiya Janata Party when they formed a coalition government with the People's Democratic Party have been violated (which is why it took so long for a fresh government to be formed after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's death).

As I write, a fresh controversy has erupted after a clash between Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri students at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar. It does appear that the non-Kashmiri students were treated harshly by the police. Yet the cure prescribed by their supporters seems to be worse than the disease. Posting more than a thousand paramilitary troops inside a college campus is surely a gross over-reaction. If even the educational institutions in Kashmir become armed garrisons, what hope is there for peace with honour in the Valley?

Maritime India Summit to be a Game Changer in Development of India’s Coastal and Port Infrastructure

PIB Press Release , Apr 12, 2016
Maritime India Summit to be a Game Changer in Development of India’s Coastal and Port Infrastructure
The Minister for Road Transport ,Highways & Shipping , Shri Nitin Gadkari , while addressing correspondents of foreign media , at the Foreign Correspondents Club in New Delhi , said that, the first ever Maritime India Summit 2016 , scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in Mumbai on the 14th of April 2016 , is in pursuance of the Governments policy of giving prime importance to developing the countries infrastructure . The objective of the three-day Summit from 14th to 16th April 2016 is to attract potential investors to the vast opportunities that the various components of the Maritime Sector have on offer.40 countries in addition to India with Republic of Korea as the partner country will participate in the Summit. The Minister elaborated on various aspects of the Summit during his speech. He informed that Sagarmala had the portential to reduce logistic costs of shipping. He said , industrial clusters would also be created along the coast and fisheries would be promoted .He informed that a Port Rail Connectivity Corporation had been created with the responsibility of connecting industrial hubs to various ports by trains that would help the economy grow .
Shri Gadkari also highlighted the need to develop inland waterways as they had a tremendous potential to supplement transport , to create jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs and villages located along many inland waterways.
While answering questions the Minister said that adequate measures would be taken to ensure the security of the facilities created along India’s coastline from any terrorist threats and also efforts would be taken to see to it that the environmental concerns are also addressed while development is not impeded.

Sagarmala National Perspective Plan Released

Apr 16, 2016
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today released the National Perspective Plan detailing the contours of Sagarmala, the government’s flagship program to promote port-led development in the country at the inauguration of the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai.The National Perspective Plan has been crafted after detailed consultations with key stakeholders in the central and state governments, public sector companies as well as private players from shipping, ports, ship-building, power, cement and steel sectors. It takes forward Sagarmala’s vision of substantially reducing export-import and domestic trade costs with a minimal investment.
Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Sh. Nitin Gadkari later talking to newspersons said promoting water transportation is priority of the Government as it will considerably reduce the logistics cost which is very high in India compared to China and European nations.The report estimates that the program could lead to annual logistics cost savings of close to Rs 35,000 crore and boost India’s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025. About one crore new jobs are estimated to be created, of which 40 lakhs will be direct employment.
This plan is based on four strategic levers – optimizing multi-modal transport to reduce the cost of domestic cargo, minimizing the time and cost of export-import cargo logistics, lowering costs for bulk industries by locating them closer to the coast, and improving export competitiveness by locating discrete manufacturing clusters near ports.With a coastline of about 7,500kms covering 13 states and Union Territories, India enjoysa strategic location on key international trade routes. Nations like the United States, Japan, Korea and more recently, China, have leveraged their coastline and waterways to drive industrial development. The Sagarmala programme, led by the Ministry of Shipping, aims to replicate these successes in India.

Nandipur to Panama


By Farrukh Saleem,April 17, 2016

The PML-N’s A-Team – which includes the prime minister and the ‘first daughter’ – has been bombed via the internet in a targeted, precision attack. The PML-N’s A-Team has no idea as to where are the bombs coming from. It has no idea as to the identity of the attacker, or how much additional ammunition is left with the attacker. And it has no idea if – and when – there would be another attack.
Nandipur went from $329 million to $847 million. Imagine: a wholesome $518 million evaporated into thin air. Neelum-Jhelum has gone from Rs15 billion to Rs414 billion. Imagine; a massive Rs399 billion over and above the original cost estimate and the project is still not ready. The New Islamabad Airport has gone from Rs37 billion to Rs81 billion. Imagine: Rs44 billion overspent and the project is still not ready.
Nandipur’s expose amounted to nothing. Neelum-Jhelum’s expose amounted to nothing. The airport’s expose amounted to nothing – and the credit goes to the A-Team’s superb ‘media management’ and its outstanding political gymnastics.

Panama is a different ballgame altogether. This is cyber warfare at its best. The attacker picks the target and the timing of the attack. The A-Team has fought and won many a battles before but the A-Team has absolutely no experience in this kind of war fare. The A-Team has no control over foreign investigative agencies. The A-Team has no control over foreign media. The A-Team has no control over other prime ministers resigning (and the domino affect). And the A-Team is up against a global war against offshore tax havens.
Cyber warfare in tandem with exposing the truth as a weapon is a deadly cocktail. Imagine: Russian President Vladimir Putin had to admit the accuracy of the Panama Papers (the Papers revealed that Putin’s associates “secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies”). Putin now claims that the “funds had been spent on musical instruments”.
The first wave of bombing has knocked out the First Daughter and infected the prime minister with Panama Fever. Will there be another wave of bombing to knock out other members of the A-Tem? Will there be another wave of bombing to knock out PML-N’s B-Team as well?

The domestic political minefield is now divided between the leaders who own offshore companies and those who do not. From within the PPP, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan stands out while the rest of the PPP stands united with the PML-N. From within the PTI, one or two members of the top leadership probably own offshore companies but Imran Khan and the rest of the party is clean (and thus cannot be targeted). Lesson: If you are clean you cannot be targeted. For the time being, the PML-N and the PPP are united versus the PTI plus JI.

Pentagon: Al Qaeda Getting Stronger in Afghanistan

U.S. Military Admits Al Qaeda Strengthening in Afganistan

Bill Roggio & Thomas Joscelyn
The Long War Journal, April 14, 2016
A senior US general in Afghanistan recently admitted the US military and intelligence services’ long-held belief that al Qaeda has only 50 to 100 operatives based in the country is incorrect, stating that number must be revised upward. Since 2010, US officials have claimed that al Qaeda has been “decimated” in Afghanistan and has maintained a consistent minimal presence of 50 to 100 operatives.
For more than six years, The Long War Journal has warned that official estimate of al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is erroneous, and the jihadist group remains a significant threat to this day.
The US military began walking back its low estimate of al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan at the start of April. Last week, Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the top spokesman for Resolute Support, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, told The Washington Post that al Qaeda has forged close ties to the Taliban and is resurgent in the country.
Major General Jeff Buchanan, Resolute Support’s Deputy Chief of Staff, directly discussed al Qaeda’s footprint in the country publicly today, and warned that previous US estimates on al Qaeda’s strength were wrong.
“If you go back to last year, there were a lot of intel estimates that said within Afghanistan al Qaeda probably has 50 to 100 members, but in this one camp we found more than 150,” Buchanan told CNN.

The camp that Buchanan was referring to was located in the Shorabak district in Kandahar. In October 2015, a large US military strike force took four days to clear two al Qaeda camps in Shorabak. One camp covered over 30 square miles, and included large caches of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies. An al Qaeda media cell was also based there. [See LWJ reports, US military strikes large al Qaeda training camps in southern Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda’s Kandahar training camp ‘probably the largest’ in Afghan War.]
After the Shorabak raid, General John Campbell, then the commander of Resolute Support, noted that US military and intelligence officials were surprised that the camp even existed.
“It’s a place where you would probably think you wouldn’t have AQ [al Qaeda]. I would agree with that,” Campbell said, according to the Post. “This was really AQIS [al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent], and probably the largest training camp-type facility that we have seen in 14 years of war.”

Having launched and led the battle against offshore tax evasion, America is now part of the problem


Financial transparency  The biggest loophole of all
Feb 20th 2016 |
DEVIN NUNES raised eyebrows in 2013 when, as chairman of a congressional working group on tax, he urged reforms that would make America “the largest tax haven in human history”. Though he was thinking of America’s competitiveness rather than turning his country into a haven for dirty money, the words were surprising: America is better known for walloping tax-dodgers than welcoming them. Its assault on Swiss banks that aided tax evasion, launched in 2007, sparked a global revolution in financial transparency. Next year dozens of governments will start to exchange information on their banks’ clients automatically, rather than only when asked to. The tax-shy are being chased to the world’s farthest corners.

And yet something odd is happening: Mr Nunes’s wish may be coming true. America seems not to feel bound by the global rules being crafted as a result of its own war on tax-dodging. It is also failing to tackle the anonymous shell companies often used to hide money. The Tax Justice Network, a lobby group, calls the United States one of the world’s top three “secrecy jurisdictions”, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong. All this adds up to “another example of how the US has elevated exceptionalism to a constitutional principle,” says Richard Hay of Stikeman Elliott, a law firm. “Europe has been outfoxed.”

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), passed in 2010, is the main shackle that America puts on other countries. It requires financial institutions abroad to report details of their American clients’ accounts or face punishing withholding taxes on American-sourced payments. America’s central role in global finance means most comply.

A Chance for Change in Brazil's Scandal Analysis

APRIL 16, 2016
Police pat down a protester in a 2014 riot in Rio de Janeiro. The Petrobras scandal has inspired waves of protest throughout Brazil and has contributed to the current president's ongoing impeachment proceedings. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

For the past two years, Brazil has been mired in the costliest corruption scandal ever uncovered in a democracy. Evidence surfaced in 2014 that contractors in Brazil had formed an alliance to overbid on projects for government-owned energy company Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras). Contractors pocketed the extra cash and bribed politicians and Petrobras executives to keep quiet. The scandal — the investigation of which came to be known as "Operation Carwash" — was so blatant and implicated such prominent political figures that it shocked Brazil, a country accustomed to high-level corruption. And now the odds that Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, will survive the fallout are looking slimmer and slimmer.
The Brazilian middle class reacted swiftly and harshly to the Petrobras revelations, staging massive protests whose scope eventually transcended the scandal. More than corruption, the protests are about waning patience with the ruling party as Brazil's economic recession drags into its second year. Swept up in the frustration is Rousseff, who has not been directly implicated in the Petrobras scandal, though she served as the company's chair for several years. Instead, Rousseff faces imminent impeachment proceedings, set to be voted upon in Brazil's lower house of congress April 17, for allegedly manipulating government budgets in 2014 to make the country's budget deficit appear smaller ahead of an election. The Petrobras affair supplied more fodder against her and proof, in the eyes of her detractors, of her ineptitude.

Brazil's unfolding political tribulations are a significant departure from its recent trajectory. Just a couple of years ago, Brazil seemed destined for greatness. The biggest economy in South America, Brazil is part of the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), a group of emerging economies highlighted for their massive growth potential. Social progress accompanied its economic advances. The World Bank praised the country for reducing inequality and raising the standard of living for its poorest citizens from 2003 to 2014. So how did Brazil fall so far? To ensure that the Petrobras scandal becomes a milestone in the country's progress, rather than the event that derailed its rise, Brazil must examine its underlying causes.
A Deterministic Geography

Russia sets sights on US’ rebalance in Asia


Last Tuesday, Russia expressed solidarity with China unequivocally for the first time, perhaps, on the South China Sea issue. During a rare joint interview by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with Japanese and Chinese journalists in Moscow, he framed the Russian position stance in reply to a question by the Chinese journalist who referred to “tensions (that) have recently flared up again” in the South China Sea:
Regarding the situation in the South China Sea, we proceed from the following premise. All states involved in these disputes must respect the principle of the non-use of military force and continue searching for mutually acceptable political and diplomatic solutions. It is necessary to stop any interference in the talks between the concerned states and any attempts to internationalise these disputes. We have provided active support for the willingness of China and ASEAN economies to advance towards this goal.

Many attempts have been made (by “external parties”) there to internationalise the issues related to the South China Sea dispute… these attempts are counterproductive. Only negotiations, which China and the ASEAN countries… are conducting, will produce the desired result, that is, a mutually acceptable agreement.
Beijing, of course, is delighted. The Foreign Ministry was quick to respond on the very next day:
China speaks highly of Russia’s remarks. Any person, organization and country that is truly concerned about peace and stability in the South China Sea should support China and relevant countries in this region, or countries directly involved to be specific, in resolving possible disputes through negotiation and coordination… It is not constructive for any country or organization outside the region to hype up the South China Sea issue, play up or provoke tensions and drive a wedge between regional countries. What they do might derail the settlement of the South China Sea issue from the right track.
China would particularly take note that Lavrov’s remarks came soon after a G-7 statement last week made an implicit criticism of Beijing for allegedly indulging in “intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions” on the South China Sea (AFP).
Lavrov’s media interaction would have been equally gratifying to Beijing for the forceful remarks he made underscoring Moscow’s determination to establish a naval base on the disputed Kuril Islands (which Japan claims its territory.) Lavrov told the Japanese correspondent:

Panama Papers file is closed. Life moves on


The Brookings Institution, the American ‘think tank’ which is based on Embassy Row in Washington, is credited with having enduring links with the US intelligence establishment, and is headed by Strobe Talbott, himself a Cold War era veteran who translated Khrushchev Remembers. It comes as little surprise that Brookings has been brought in to close the Panama Papers file.
Clifford Gaddy, an old ‘Russia hand’ at the Brookings, penned what appears to be an absurd article expounding the thesis that the Panama Papers was actually the creation of none other than – now, don’t fall off your chair – President Vladimir Putin. Yes, according to the Brookings paper, here, Putin ordered an intelligence operation to defame himself, but with a sinister purpose to hit at America.

Has Talbott gone off his mind? No, there is a pattern in the madness of Cold Warriors. The real idea behind the Brookings thesis is to distance the US intelligence from the Panama Papers controversy. And it has done that by creating shock and awe. Gaddy speculates that Putin deliberately withheld a smear campaign against corrupt American politicians because his intention is to blackmail them eventually. The Brookings has conveyed a signal to the Kremlin: ‘We are closing the Panama File. No hard feelings, pals. Let us move on’.
Why has the US intelligence shut down a flashy project that was painstakingly put together and aimed at destroying Putin’s reputation before the crucial parliamentary election in Russia in autumn? The answer is simple: The Panama Papers project crash-landed. It failed to smear Putin’s ‘image’. The Russian people smelt a rat and ignored the Panama Papers, while the world community is largely immune to the West’s shenanigans to demonize Putin. So, the law of diminishing returns is at work.

Having provoked the Kremlin by this outrageous intelligence operation, the likelihood of a backlash from Moscow becomes very high. Of course, the Russians also know a few dark secrets about America’s politicians. How would it be if in the run-up to what is turning out to be a no-holds-barred, bruising presidential election in November in the US, Kremlin decides to release a few dark secrets about the protagonists in the ring? Of course, all hell will break loose. It can only work to the advantage of Donald Trump who despite all his follies and foibles, at least made his fortune in legitimate business.
The big question now will be whether Putin is the forgiving type or not? He spoke with biting sarcasm when he discussed Panama Papers during a phone-in program on national television on Thursday in Moscow. (RT) The skeletons in the American cupboards must be rattling – from Arkansas to Chicago.

The New Silk Road, A Chinese-style “New Deal”. The Economic and Geopolitical Consequences

By Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)
Global Research, July 31, 2015
Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)
Historians will remember that the Chinese President Xi Jinping officially launched the new “Silk Road” with a 30 minute speech at the Boao Economic Conference on Hainan Island the 28 March 2015, in front of 16 heads of State or government and 100 or so ministers from the 65 countries which are on the path, land or sea, of this new trade route[1]. For us, involved in political anticipation, what a challenge we have been given! China is suggesting that we imagine the future by stepping back several centuries, even two millennia.
Such a move isn’t absurd, as a fact ! The strength of nations such as Russia, Iran, India or China comes from their ability to think far into the future. Europe also has an historical depth – the two world wars encouraged it to rediscover the age before nations, that of Charlemagne or even the Roman Empire. This way of thinking is probably most alien to the US undoubtedly and which will look at the Chinese project with the greatest suspicion. However it will have to live with reality: the appetite for this “resurrection of the past” from their European allies, but also a country like Israel[2], all countries which have just decided to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank created by China for the occasion, confirms that this project which is based on an ancient past has a future.
In what follows, we propose sketching the foreseeable consequences of the Chinese initiative. Three elements must be identified more clearly: do we say “the road and corridor” of Chinese power? What will be the repercussions on the rest of Eurasia? What will be the US attitude, facing what represents the first challenge of a new era, where it’s going to have to learn that power is shared.

65 countries, 4.4 billion people, 63% of the global population are affected by the New Silk Road. For the moment, these countries together only account for 29% of world output, but we are only at the beginning of a global rebalancing around Eurasia. China expects that, within 10 years, its trade relations with the countries along what it calls “the road and corridor” should have more than doubled to $2.5 trillion. China has sent a very strong signal: at a time when its economic growth has begun to slow, China hasn’t chosen to stimulate its economy through military spending, which would justify a possible “Cold War” with the US[3]. It has chosen diplomacy and trade with a view to rebalancing: to depend less on the transatlantic economic relationship it seems to it that it must strengthen various relationships “in the West”. It’s a matter of literally once again becoming “The Middle Kingdom” [4].
To gather together the capital necessary for this new economic axis’ gigantesque infrastructure, China has launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with 52 participating countries, including the nine leading European economies. The initial capital was originally intended to be $100 billion but, given the influx of applications, it will be higher. China has already made it known that, to attract investments, no right of veto would be given to the Board of Directors (unlike the US in the Bretton Woods financial institutions). However, let’s not be under any illusion, China, drawing on its diplomatic experience since time immemorial, will find all sorts of indirect means to control to control a public investment bank for which it took the initiative[5].

The country intends to take advantage of a favourable situation to advance its interests: Russia needs its support if it wants to stand firm in the showdown with the US over the Ukraine’s future. And the EU is seriously tempted by increased Chinese investment in Europe to contribute to an exit from the crisis[6].

The Brilliance of China's Grand Strategy: Don't 'Own' Land, Just 'Use' It

Parag Khanna , April 11, 2016

In 2010, Canada hosted the G7 finance ministers in Nunavut, the country's frigid Arctic province that is home to a mere 30,000 Inuit people. Canada's "Northern Strategy" for the Arctic was a centerpiece of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tenure, resulting in a larger coast guard, new icebreakers, military logistics centers across the Northwest Territories, regular drone surveillance flights and a fleet of stealth snowmobiles code-named Loki. When asked why Canada was placing such strategic emphasis on the Arctic, Harper responded with a simple phrase: "Use it or lose it."

There is no better expression to capture great power maneuvering in the 21st century, especially when it comes to China. In contrast to the legalistic and nation-based approaches that dominate Western thinking, China views the world almost entirely through the lens of supply chains. As Chinese growth and consumption surged in the 1990s, it became a huge importer of raw materials from countries that the West began to ignore as the Cold War ended. The saying "Power abhors a vacuum" is itself a synonym for "Use it or lose it." China is now the top trade partner of 124 countries, more than twice as many as the United States (52 countries). China sees New Zealand as a food supplier, Australia as an iron ore and natural gas exporter, Zambia as a metals hub and Tanzania as a shipping hub. The Argentine scholar Mariano Turzi calls his country a "soybean republic" in light of the shift in its agribusiness to serve Chinese demand. Supply and demand is the governing law of the 21st century, not sovereignty.

The long-standing mantra of the de jure world is "This land is my land." The new motto of the de facto, supply chain world is "Use it or lose it."
In a supply chain world, it matters less who owns (or claims) territory than who uses (or administers) it. China is harvesting minerals far from its own borders in lands it cannot steadily rule. It thus prefers de facto maps to de jure ones — the world as it can rearrange it, rather than the world as international law sees it.

Chinese PLA Training: A Window on Military Culture Find out how Chinese PLA training stacks up against its U.S. counterpart.

By Ben Lowsen , April 13, 2016

As a newly-minted lieutenant in the U.S. Army of the 1990s, I learned quickly that there were two main tasks in the peacetime military: training and combat readiness. Training is what you would expect: honing troops’ ability to do their job in combat, including everything from physical fitness and individual weapons qualification to working effectively within small groups and large units. The term combat readiness is a bit deceptive, covering activities that don’t build combat skill directly but without which individuals and units might never even make it to the battlefield. This means maintaining weapons and equipment, ensuring medical preparedness, and administrative readiness, etc. The way the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) handles these tasks says much about its military culture.

A guide for PLA company commanders distinguishes between training and combat readiness, although the latter is limited to direct combat preparation. Training occurs in two phases: (1) preparation, including political indoctrination, organization, materiel and equipment, and instruction; and (2) execution and assessment. Readiness includes academic and Party education (again), alerts, equipment and materiel maintenance, readiness exercises, and inspections. Other areas (e.g. medical) are covered separately under administration, logistics, and armaments management.
As for training itself, a 2005 National Defense University military handbook sets out two categories: foundational training, which builds specific individual and collective skills, and maneuvers, in which units negotiate simulated combat scenarios. As with U.S. Army training, the training process begins with an assessment of needed skills and uses multiple training formats – instruction, demonstration, observation, practice, exercise, etc. – to reach the desired skill level. It then proceeds stepwise from simple individual skills to complex collective activities, the “crawl, walk, run” progression.

Mr. Obama goes to Riyadh: Why the United States and Saudi Arabia still need each other

Bruce Riedel | April 14, 2016
The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States has been deteriorating since 2000 due to serious and fundamental differences on Israel, democracy, Iran, and other issues. President Barack Obama's visit next week can help contain these differences and emphasize common interests but it won't restore the relationship to its glory days.
A long history of ups and downs

The U.S.-Saudi alliance dates to 1943, when the future Kings Faysal and Khalid visited the White House at the invitation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The two young princes agreed to accept American security assistance in return for continued Saudi preference for American oil companies’ access to the Kingdom. The deal was formalized on Valentine’s Day 1945, when King Ibn Saud and Roosevelt met face-to-face on the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal. The King and the President hit it off well, despite deep disagreement on the future of Palestine.
The next six decades had ups and downs, but the countries grew steadily closer together. Faysal would impose the 1973 oil embargo on Richard Nixon for supporting Israel in the October war, but it began Saudi-U.S. cooperation on the Arab-Israeli peace process. Khalid would partner with Jimmy Carter to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. King Fahd would turn to President George H.W. Bush to fight Saddam Hussein and liberate Kuwait. The 1980s and 1990s saw unprecedented cooperation between the two countries.

* Journey to Europe: Thinking About Gagarin

A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics.
April 13, 2016
By George Friedman
The Cold War space race was as much about competition as it was self-doubt.
Yesterday was the 55th anniversary of the first manned space flight. The pilot was Yuri Gagarin, a citizen of the Soviet Union, and what he did helped usher in a new age. It also ushered in a profound crisis in the United States. It was a crucial moment in American manic depression.
The Gagarin flight took place deep into the Cold War, when nuclear war seemed inevitable to the public, and the United States saw itself in the midst of a race with the Soviet Union. It was far more than an arms race. It was a race of moral principles, political systems and social systems. The measure of victory was to be found in every sphere, from athletics to technology. The world understood that the United States was the master of technology. It learned that during World War II. But the Soviet Union was telling the world that it would surpass the United States not only in Olympic medals but in amazing technological achievements. It believed, not unreasonably, that such an achievement demonstrated the inadequacy of bourgeois democracy (a term I haven’t used in a long while) and the superiority of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Technology was the battleground. It created military power. It generated prosperity. But technology is not easy to understand. Gagarin’s mission was, first and foremost, understandable. The first human being to leave the earth was a Soviet citizen. Gagarin’s flight came after the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the first satellite. During the same period the United States struggled to launch a satellite, with its rockets exploding in mid-flight or on the launch pad. It is hard to remember for most, but during those years of the late 1950s there was a serious sense that the Soviets were beating the United States in the moral, political and social competition. The Soviet system had produced Yuri Gagarin and the Olympic medalists. The American system could not. Therefore, the Soviets could claim superiority.

And Americans believed it. So did much of the rest of the world. Many wished it to be true. Western European intellectuals were beguiled by Marxism. The Marxists knew in their hearts that they (and I think of Jean-Paul Sartre here) were writing moral gibberish. No one could write “Being and Nothingness” and not know he was full of it. But there was a deep “schadenfreude” toward the U.S. The world took pleasure in seeing what they thought of as American arrogance shattered by the Soviets. Much of the European elite saw the United States as crass and vulgar, an unworthy successor. This is not all of Europe by any means. Eastern Europe knew what the Soviets were, and many ordinary Europeans were grateful to the United States. But at the heart of the elite and the intelligentsia was a belief that the United States did not deserve to be where it was.