27 May 2015

Caught India by the throat?

Kuldip Nayar
May 27 2015

I have not been able to make out why Gen Pervez Musharraf, who is under house arrest on the charge of treason, has made a public speech on the Kargil war which I watched on a television channel. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must be under pressure from the army to allow Musharraf to propagate an account which is not factually correct. 

Surely, Nawaz Sharif remembers how he was removed through a coup staged by General Musharraf. Yet, the Pakistan Prime Minister sought US President Bill Clinton's intervention on July 4, the US Independence Day, when Clinton was too occupied, for the safe passage of the Pakistani soldiers. They had been hopelessly surrounded by the Indian forces at the Kargil heights. President Clinton telephoned the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to request him to let the Pakistani soldiers go without any reprisal. 

*** It’s Time to Bring Imperialism Back to the Middle East

MAY 25, 2015

Empire may have fallen out of fashion, but history shows that the only other option is the kind of chaos we see today.

Though imperialism is now held in disrepute, empire has been the default means of governance for most of recorded history, and the collapse of empires has always been messy business, whether in China and India from antiquity through the early 20th century or in Europe following World War I.

The meltdown we see in the Arab world today, with chaos in parts of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant, is really about the final end of imperialism. The Islamic State’s capture of Palmyra, an ancient caravan city and one of the most visually stunning archaeological sites in the Near East, only punctuates this point. Palmyra represents how the region historically has been determined by trade routes rather than fixed borders. Its seizure by the barbarians only manifests how the world is returning to that fluid reality.

A message to Modi’s supporters: Don’t give up on him, instead get through to him

'Leaving it to the boss' is not a good way to achieve the outcomes we want.

By now, almost everything that can be said about the first year of the Modi government has been said already. Everyone from the wags on Twitter to serious-minded (at least in their own minds) intellectuals has given us their assessment. Even The Economist, which gratuitously did not endorse him during the campaign, and which does not have a vote in Indian elections, has a cover story and special feature on the anniversary.

Ignoring his partisans and his detractors, the wider perception is this: it appears that after one year in office, Narendra Modi’s government has performed decently but disappointed the people who had dramatic expectations of any sort. (Readers beware: it might appear this way to me because I too think its performance was decent, except that I had expected as much from it.)

India: One year after change of the political guard

25 May 2015

Narendra Modi and his ruling BJP government receive a mixed response on the delivery of pre-election promises.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has initiated cleanup programmes while expanding business 

Varanasi, India - Millions of Indian voters helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi rise to power last May when he promised to overhaul the economy, end corruption, and create jobs in the country.

Modi sought a mere 60 months to bring about vast changes that he said Congress - the former ruling party - was unable to deliver over the 60 previous years. 

On Tuesday, the one year anniversary of a Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, many of these voters are evaluating Modi's performance.

India and Vietnam Push Ahead with Strategic Security Cooperation

May 26, 2015

Vietnam’s defense minister is in India, with a maritime security-focused agenda. 
Vietnamese Defense Minister Phùng Quang Thanh is in India for a three-day visit this week. On Monday, Thanh met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. Thanh’s visit to India is intended to bolster strategic ties between India and Vietnam and comes at a time of rising tensions in the South China Sea–where Vietnam disputes the sovereignty of various islands and reefs with China. Additionally, the Indian government has framed its approach toward Vietnam in terms of its proactive “Act East” policy. Parallel to Thanh’s visit to New Delhi, Indian and Vietnamese senior diplomats held their seventh deputy ministerial-level political consultation in Hanoi.

A Boost for India-Bangladesh Relations

By Ram Kumar Jha and Saurabh Kumar
May 25, 2015

The passing in Indian parliament of an agreement to settle land boundary disputes is a significant step forward. 
May 7, 2015 was a historic day in India-Bangladesh relations. That was the day when Indian parliamentpassed a Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Bill. The amendment ensures a settlement of the long-running land boundary dispute with Bangladesh. It will contribute to stability and better economic activities at the border points. The bill has now to be ratified and signed, which may happen in June when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to visit Bangladesh.

The arbitrary division of the border in 1947 resulted in dispute over the control of numerous enclaves. These India-Bangladesh enclaves were known as the chitmahals. There were 102 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 71 Bangladeshi enclaves inside India. Inside those enclaves are also 28 counter-enclaves and one counter-counter-enclave. 

The Afghanistan Arena: Pakistan’s Pivot to China

By Mercy A. Kuo and Angelica O. Tang
May 25, 2015

Insights from Gareth Price, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House. 

The Rebalance authors Mercy Kuo and Angie Tang regularly engage subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. rebalance to Asia. This conversation with Gareth Price – Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House – is the fourth in “The Rebalance Insight Series.”

What impact has the U.S. rebalance to Asia had on South Asia thus far?

Largely neutral. The pivot is largely towards East Asia, and about China. U.S. desire to deepen its relationship with India has been long-standing and pre-dates the “pivot.” India clearly has its own concerns about China – both the Chinese presence in India’s neighbors in South Asia, and the Indian Ocean in general, and its border disputes. While India is attempting to deepen its economic ties with China, increased Indian interaction with the U.S. is seen to serve the purpose of ensuring that China takes more notice of India and its concerns. At the same time, the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan and shift in attention away from Afghanistan and Pakistan works in the opposite direction.

Afghan Government Depending on Warlords and Local Militia to Fight Taliban in Northern Afghanistan

May 25, 2015

Afghans Form Militias and Call on Warlords to Battle Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — Facing a fierce Taliban offensive across a corridor of northern Afghanistan, the government in Kabul is turning to a strategy fraught with risk: forming local militias and beseeching old warlords for military assistance, according to Afghan and Western officials.

The effort is expected to eventually mobilize several thousand Afghans from the north to fight against the Taliban in areas where the Afghan military and police forces are losing ground or have had little presence. The action is being seen as directly undermining assurances by officials that the security forces were holding their own against the Taliban.

Further, the plan to turn to irregular forces is stoking anxieties of factional rivalries and civil strife in a nation still haunted by a civil war in the 1990s in which feuding militia commanders tore the country apart. Some of the commanders involved in that bloodletting a generation ago now hold senior government positions and are encouraging the current effort to mobilize and rearm militias.


May 25, 2015

Stars are just like us, and so, apparently, are terrorists. The public disclosure of documents from Osama bin Laden’s “bookshelf” has once again illustrated the operational functionalism at the heart of jihadi organizations. Celebrities are human after all (they dress comfortably!) and so are the jihadis in al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State (they attempt to make efficient use of human resources!).”

At this point, it should come as no surprise that jihadi groups use basic management practices familiar to your local Togo’s franchise. In 2006, we learned that al-Qaeda used banal application forms. In 2007, we learned that the Islamic State of Iraq did the same. Every other week there is a new story about how the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is trying to govern using basic tools like recordkeeping, licenses, etc. It turns out, terrorists are people too. The disclosure of bin Laden’s bookshelf has given us another opportunity to re-learn the same lesson.

Central Asia’s Future: Three Powers, Three Visions

By Jeffrey Mankoff and Richard Ghiasy
May 25, 2015

China, Russia and the U.S. each have visions to connect Central Asia with the rest of Eurasia. 

During the international military intervention in Afghanistan, major powers viewed Central Asia primarily through the lens of the conflict. As the allied forces have scaled back, China, Russia and the United States have shifted their focus to the region’s economic potential.

This shift could help Central Asia integrate with the global economy, but if conducted poorly could subject the region to damaging competition between Beijing, Moscow and Washington. As these powers implement their respective visions for Central Asia, they should look for opportunities to cooperate among themselves.

During an October 2013 visit to Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his vision of a Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), and shortly after the concept of the so-called 21st Maritime Silk Road was presented by him in Jakarta. Together, this “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) will create trade corridors connecting East and Southeast Asia with most of the rest of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

History’s Next Great War Zone: The South China Sea

05.25.156:50 AM ET 

The United States pushes back against Chinese claims over a vast tract of water of enormous importance. It’s a classic win-or-lose confrontation. 

At the moment, the war is just one of words. On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called a U.S. Navy reconnaissance flight over the hotly contested South China Sea “very irresponsible and dangerous and detrimental to regional peace and stability.” The admonition came two days after the Chinese navy sent eight warnings to an American P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft, telling it not to approach Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Island chain. 

Beijing and Washington in recent months have been making many declarations about—and trading accusations and warnings over—these 3.5 million square kilometers of water that are roughly bounded by Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where annual commerce totals $5.3 trillion. About half the world’s oil-tanker shipments transit its waters. Six of the world’s 10 busiest ports dot its coasts. 

South China Sea: The One-Move Chess Player

By Amitai Etzioni
May 25, 2015

Is the U.S. properly thinking through its South China Sea policy? 

The United States’ announcement that it is considering sending military aircraft and ships within twelve miles of a chain of artificial islands China has built up in the disputed Spratly Islands is a troubling move that escalates the tensions and risks in the South China Sea. It reveals once again Washington’s propensity to be a one-move chess player – the kind of chess player that makes a move without considering how the other side will respond, and what it will do then. The U.S. disbanded the Iraqi army after toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime without asking what these men, unemployed and armed, would do; it fired thousands of civil servants without considering how Iraq’s government agencies would continue to operate without them. In Libya, the United States helped topple Muammar Gaddafi, but it was unprepared to deal with the anarchy that followed.

China’s Health Care Reforms

May 25, 2015

Beijing is tackling reform of the health care sector. 

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission and State Council have been working to reform the health care sector, which faces excessive dependence on drug sales for income, low pay for doctors, insufficient support from local governments, and low interest in private hospitals. Some ways in which officials are tackling health care reform include addressing drug sales in hospitals, reducing price controls on drugs, promoting the growth of private hospitals, and improving the quality of health care staff.

The State Council laid out health care reform objectives in a May 9 Circular, including the objective to eliminate drug markups as well as plans to make medical services of public hospitals more affordable and improve the quality of the staff. Implementation of performance assessments in hospitals is to help ensure that medical staff who do a better job will be paid accordingly.

How America Should Respond to China's Moves in the South China Sea

May 26, 2015
U.S. leadership and military superiority are required to keep this and other disputes in the Asia-Pacific region from getting out of hand. 

For decades, Chinese leaders have followed Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of “hiding one’s capacities and biding one’s time.” Since Xi Jinping came to power, however, Chinese policymakers have been employing slogans that suggest the adoption of a more assertive strategy, emphasizing China’s “dream of a strong nation” and the need to “actively strive to accomplish something.” Nowhere is this new and more active doctrine more apparent, and potentially dangerous,than in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Since the end of the Chinese Civil War, Beijing has laid claim to the entire South China Sea, all the way down the coasts of Vietnam and the Philippines to the shores of Borneo 1,700 miles away. A glance at a Chinese map of the “nine-dash line” delineating Beijing’s claims shows what a vast area this is. China is not just claiming open water, however. Over five trillion dollars’ worth of shipping passes through the South China Sea each year, and it is full of productive fishing grounds and potentially vast energy resources that nations might be willing to fight for. The strategic value and importance of the area is clear.

Why China Should Fear America's Great South China Sea Challenge

May 25, 2015
Source Link

What should we make of last week's CNN report from on board a U.S. Navy Poseidon P-8 surveillance aircraft, verbally challenged by the Chinese navy ("Leave immediately...you go") as it monitored China's reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands?

CNN's video footage of China's reclamation activities in the Spratlys underscores the game-changing potential of these artificial islands. The scale and speed of construction—a panning shot reveals a runway control tower and other structures already looming above Fiery Cross Reef—is daunting. A flotilla of naval and civilian ships criss-crosses busily as the dredgers operate around the clock. For sheer effect, static imagery falls short by comparison.

More dramatically, the report revealed that eight separate radio challenges were delivered by the Chinese Navy over the course of the flight, warning the crew that they were entering a “military alert zone” and ordering the aircraft to leave. It seems clear from the P-8 crew's reaction that this was not the first time that approaching aircraft have received such warnings. Despite China's official claims that the reclamation projects are for search and rescue and hosting other civil infrastructure, this footage will strengthen the impression that the PLA is behind the reclamation projects—and effectively calling the shots in the South China Sea.

China's Master Plan in the South China Sea

May 26, 2015

Exaggerating China’s actions in the South China Sea threatens to push the United States and China into an irreversible confrontation.

There is little doubt now that China has been assertive in the South China Sea for some time, particularly with regard to its ongoing reclamation projects. The biggest question that is being asked now is: what is the nature of China’s assertiveness? Is it reactive? Or is it expansionist? 

The answer to this critical question will determine the likely strategy of the United States and its allies in Asia. If it is the former, then a peaceful resolution can be found to satisfy all sides’ concerns. If it is latter, then a serious confrontation between the United States and China seems almost inevitable.

China Warns Off More U.S. Surveillance Flights Over Disputed Man-Made Islands in South China Sea

Helene Cooper and Jane Perlez
May 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — The United States and China on Friday escalated their dispute over contested territory in the South China Sea, after the Chinese repeatedly ordered an American military surveillance plane to abandon flights over areas where China has been building artificial islands.

The continued American surveillance flights in areas where China is creating new islands in the South China Sea are intended to challenge the Chinese government’s claims of expanded territorial sovereignty. Further raising the challenge, Pentagon officials said they were discussing sending warships into waters that the United States asserts are international and open to passage, but that China says are within its zone of control.

The Defense Department planning comes in response to China’s accelerated efforts to build new islands in the South China Sea to bolster claims to a vastly expanded area of sovereignty, a direct challenge to the United States and other nations in the region.

Inflated Cybersecurity Threat Escalates US-China Mistrust


The rhetorical spiral of mistrust in the Sino-American relationship threatens to undermine the mutual benefits of the information revolution. Fears about the paralysis of the United States' digital infrastructure or the hemorrhage of its competitive advantage are exaggerated.

Policymakers in the United States often portray China as posing a serious cybersecurity threat. In 2013 U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon stated that Chinese cyber intrusions not only endanger national security but also threaten U.S. firms with the loss of competitive advantage.

One U.S. member of Congress has asserted that China has "laced the U.S. infrastructure with logic bombs." Chinese critics, meanwhile, denounce Western allegations of Chinese espionage and decry National Security Agency (NSA) activities revealed by Edward Snowden.

The Announcements From Washington and Baghdad of the Decline of ISIS Were Premature (Again!)

Tim Arango and Anne Barnard
May 24, 2015

With Victories, ISIS Dispels Hope of a Swift Decline

BAGHDAD — Just last month, when Western and Iraqi officials talked about the Islamic State, it was mostly to list a series of setbacks to the terrorist group: defeated in the Syrian town of Kobani, battered by a heavy airstrike campaign, forced out of a growing list of towns and cities in Iraq.

But in just the past week, the Islamic State has turned that story around. Last weekend it solidified its hold on Iraq’s Anbar Province with a carefully choreographed assault on the regional capital, Ramadi. And on Wednesday, it stretched its territory in Syria into the historically andstrategically important city of Palmyra.

Confounding declarations of the group’s decline, the twin offensives have become a sudden showcase for the group’s disciplined adherence to its core philosophies: always fighting on multiple fronts, wielding atrocities to scare off resistance and, especially, enforcing its caliphate in the Sunni heartland that straddles the Iraqi-Syrian border. In doing so, the Islamic State has not only survived setbacks, but also engineered new victories.

"The Impact of China on Cybersecurity: Fiction and Friction"

Author: Jon R. Lindsay

"The Impact of China on Cybersecurity: Fiction and Friction"

The Chinese cyber threat to the United States has been exaggerated. China's cyber capabilities are outmatched by those of the West, and Beijing reaps too many benefits from the internet's liberal norms to attempt to seriously undermine them.

The author has written a policy brief based on this article, "Exaggerating the Chinese Cyber Threat."

"Exaggerating the Chinese Cyber Threat"

Author: Jon R. Lindsay
May 2015

Young Chinese netizens play online games and surf the internet at an internet cafe in Guilin city, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, September 29, 2011.

This policy brief is based on "The Impact of China on Cybersecurity: Fiction and Friction," which appears in the Winter 2014/15 issue of International Security.

"Exaggerating the Chinese Cyber Threat" has been republished on the Huffington Post's The World Post blog.

Inflated Threats and Growing Mistrust. The United States and China have more to gain than lose through their intensive use of the internet, even as friction in cyberspace remains both frustrating and inevitable. Threat misperception heightens the risks of miscalculation in a crisis and of Chinese backlash against competitive U.S. firms.

Gen. Dempsey’s first fight in Iraq shapes his approach to Islamic State

By Missy Ryan 
May 25, 2015

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses U.S. troops in Iraq last fall. He has advocated a cautious approach to the battle there against the Islamic State. 
In the summer of 2014, President Obama and his senior aides were scrambling to respond to the lightning advance of Islamic State fighters across Iraq and the collapse of local forces in the face of the onslaught.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Obama’s top military adviser, recommended sending U.S. Special Forces troops to take stock of the situation. But Dempsey, unlike other aides who favored an immediate offensive response, also made a case for restraint, arguing that American air power should be unleashed in earnest only after the Iraqis struck a political agreement that would unify the country’s fractious leaders.

As the general liked to tell his aides: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Counterterrorism: Is it working?

May. 25 2015

Wesley Wark is co-director of a research project at the University of Ottawa studying Canadian national security and its impact.

The Islamic State terrorist group now commands the greatest army of foreign mercenaries in modern history. Current estimates of its size range from 20,000 foreign fighters to a Central Intelligence Agency figure of 31,000. This army of fighters is essential to IS’s battlefield power, at least in terms of providing it with cannon fodder, and critical to its effort to recruit believers from around the world to help it build the infrastructure of a state, and ultimately a caliphate. The greatest number of recruits globally for IS has come from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia; from European countries, France, Belgium and Britain are the leading contributors. Canadians have also left to join IS since its dramatic rise to power in Syria and Iraq, although we don’t have an exact fix on the numbers. But the Canadian Prime Minister has signalled his belief that one is too many, telling a Montreal audience that “there is no legitimate reason of any kind in this country for someone to become a violent jihadist or terrorist or to join any kind of group that is involved or advocates that kind of activity.”

John McCain mocks Obama for calling climate change a threat as Isis advances

Tom McCarthy
24 May 2015

‘The president is saying the biggest problem we have is climate change’

Isis troops have taken control of the cities of Palmyra in Syria and Ramadi in Iraq in the past week. Photograph: Medyan Dairieh/Zuma Press/Corbis

Religious teaching that drives Isis to threaten the ancient ruins of Palmyra

Senator John McCain on Sunday attacked the president for citing climate change as a threat to national security, suggesting that the Obama administration’s focus on environmental issues was detracting from the fight against Islamic Statemilitants in Iraq and Syria.

The comments by the Senate armed services committee chairman were part of a rotating blame game over the Memorial Day weekend about who is responsible for recent gains by Isis fighters, who last week took control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

SOF Commanders Confirm That ISIS and Other Militant Groups Evolving and Adapting Rapidly

Joe Gould
May 24, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. — For years, Afghanistan dominated the talk at the US Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) here, but this year there was nary a mention of the Taliban, now eclipsed by the Islamic State group and threats that are many, varied and globally networked.

The chief of US Special Operations Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, speaking at a National Defense Industrial Association conference, said his forces are “operating in possibly the most complex strategic environment in recent history.” Defense budgets are being squeezed even as demand for special ops forces grows.

Recent months have seen an “incredible eruption” in foreign fighters flowing into the Middle East from all over the world in support of the Islamic State group and its affiliates, increasing connections between transnational criminal organizations and violent extremist groups, and ISIS-inspired flare-ups in Africa and Asia. A resurgent Russia is using special operations forces and information operations, Votel said.

He lamented the budget cuts hitting the services and rippling into the special ops forces they support.

EXCLUSIVE: The stunning story of the fall of Ramadi

Civilians flee Ramadi hours before the fall of the city to ISIS. AFP photo
A shocking betrayal, waves of suicide attacks, days hiding in the desert. This is a first-hand account by a top Kurdish commander in the Iraqi armed forces about what really happened – and what happens next – in Ramadi, Anbar and Iraq.

In the past year and half we engaged in major battles. At times, ISIS targeted the Iraqi Army and police with 25 car bombs, yet our forces managed to fight back and repel the attacks.

But this time there was a major betrayal by the Special Operations command. This command was formed by the Americans during [former] prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and they carried the latest advanced weapons.

Two days prior to the ISIS attack we had accurate information that the Special Operations had packed up and abandoned their base in Ramadi.

Chaos and Panic Inside Iraqi Army Forces Led to Collapse at Ramadi

Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim
May 23, 2015

Chaos in Iraqi forces contributed to Islamic State’s biggest win this year

BAGHDAD — It was around 9 p.m. when police Col. Hamid Shandoukh peered across the dark waters of the Euphrates River and spotted the skiffs carrying Islamic State fighters toward his front line in the city of Ramadi.

The commander mustered his forces — a mixture of tribal fighters and local policemen — to defend their position on the river snaking through the city.

But it soon became clear that this was no ordinary assault. As the security forces trained their guns on the river in front of them, they came under attack from behind.

“It was a case of complete chaos,” Shandoukh said. “We thought the areas behind us were secured.” But the Islamic State had activated sleeper cells in the city.

The attack in the Albualwan neighborhood on May 14 marked the beginning of the end for pro-government forces in Ramadi, a strategic city that had held out during nearly 18 months of assaults by the Islamic State. The insurgents launched a sophisticated, multipronged attack over four days, using as many as 30 car bombs.

Why America's Debt Bomb Won't Explode... Yet

Debt levels may be enormous, but interest payments aren't at historical highs.

In Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment, a cat is placed in a sealed box with a mechanism rigged to possibly release cyanide in an hour, depending on the rate of atomic decay. It is a quirk of quantum mechanics that, until the contents of the box are observed, the cat can be considered to be both alive and dead—simultaneously.

The thought experiment is well suited to pondering the U.S. federal government’s current debt situation. Currently, there is an unprecedented amount of debt in the proverbial “box,” and the outcome is difficult to observe until after the fact.

Where Should Nuclear Waste be Dumped?

May 26, 2015

Community consent is essential when debating where to place nuclear waste.

Nuclear waste is once again on the political radar with ample potential for controversy. The Obama Administration has taken the position that a central repository at Yucca Mountain is not workable, while Congress appears to have a range of approaches, including Yucca Mountain. Among Congressional measures, a bipartisan bill in the Senate proposes the creation of an independent agency to oversee the vetting of nuclear waste sites. Recently elected Congressman Hardy from Nevada has also called for an honest discussion among Nevadans about Yucca Mountain. Since public consent is so integral for 21st century democracies, one might ask: what can be learned from early adopters of consent-based processes in nuclear waste decisions?

Security risks: The tenuous link between climate change and national security

Bruce Jones
May 21, 2015 

During his address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation this week, President Obama highlighted climate change as “a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to (U.S.) national security.” Is President Obama right? Are the national security threats from climate change real?

When I listen to the “know-nothing” crowd and their front men in Congress who actively ignore ever-stronger scientific evidence about the pace of climate change, I want to quit my day job and organize civic action to close them down. The celebration of anti-knowledge, the denial of science, the treatment of advanced education as a mark of ignominy rather than the building block of American innovation and citizenship—these are as grave a threat to America’s future as any I can identify. So I’m sympathetic to the Obama administration’s desire to take a bludgeon to climate deniers. But is “national security” the right stick to move the naysayers forward? 

Nepal’s Disaster Resilience Is a Structural Issue

The country faces a mammoth task building economic, social, and political stability. 

Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake has claimed more than 8,600 lives, and is now officially the deadliest event in the country’s history. Since the April 25tragedy, commentators and experts have opined about Nepal’s lack of preparedness, with indictments of shoddy infrastructure, poorly enforced or non-existent building codes, and inadequate response systems. International attention, aside from an uptick after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake on May 12, has waned. Regrettably, factors underlying Nepal’s lagging structural resilience have received little coverage. Beyond disaster preparedness, true resilience is a net product of economic, social, and political conditions, factors which in Nepal’s case continue to threaten the country’s stability.

Who Defines Japan's Past, And Future

May 26, 2015
China and Japan each need leaders who will use history strategically to craft a productive future, not just flick at an unpleasant past for domestic political advantage.

Niccolò Machiavelli famously argued that in making real change, reformers should maintain old forms because people are satisfied with appearances and are “more influenced by the things that seem to be than by those that are.” George Orwell updated Machiavelli by pointing out that those who control the present control the past, and those who control the past control the future.

So, we have long understood how the use of history can be selective and strategic. Nor is this peculiar to politics in European states. Nowhere has the political manipulation of history been more embedded in political discourse than Japan, where 19th century reformers “restored” an emperor to legitimate a revolution and 20th century industrialists invented a “traditional” paternalism to thwart the development of trade unions.


May 25, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in Patrick Cronin’s series on China’s strategy for dominance in the Asia-Pacific. Check out the first two, “Chinese Regional Hegemony in Slow Motion,” and “How China’s Land Reclamation Fits in its Strategy for Regional Dominance.”

Sometimes order requires enforcing fair rules, even if it risks momentary confrontation. Such is the case of this week’s overflight of Fiery Cross Reef and other artificial islands by a U.S. P8-A Poseidon patrol aircraft. Fiery Cross Reef and other reclamation projects represent one of China’s most brazen attempts to make its controversial nine-dash line map claim to own the majority of the South China Sea a fait accompli—well before an international tribunal is expected to pronounce on the legality of that claim. Fiery Cross Reef is not just a provocative artificial island project, but soon to be a military base from which the People’s Liberation Army and law enforcement can operate ships and planes.

The Incredible Bravery of America’s Female Special Ops

Too often, the narrative about female soldiers dwells on rape and PTSD. It’s time to recognize them for their incredible valor. 

Whenever I would mention during the last two years that I was writing a special operations-related book, folks were intrigued. Especially after the big-screen success of American Sniper, which threw special operations in general and SEALs in particular even further into America’s consciousness. 

When I said the story had to do with female soldiers, the tone would shift immediately and inevitably. 

“Is the book about rape? Or PTSD?” 

And therein is the challenge of how we see our female veterans. 

Army chiefs plan for proposed joint Arab force in Mideast

May 25, 2015

CAIRO (AP) -- Army chiefs of staff of Arab countries have drafted a protocol for a new joint force to intervene in Middle East hotspots on missions ranging from fighting Islamic militants to Iran-backed groups - despite lingering disagreements on some details, including where to base the force's headquarters. 

The plan, drafted at a gathering Sunday in Cairo, describes where and how the force would be put into action. Membership is "voluntary," the draft says, and if only three of the members sign up, it's enough to put the plan into action. A decision to intervene would be based on a request from a member state "facing threats." 

The idea of an Arab joint force has already been tested in the ongoing Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes against Shiite rebels in Yemen. But observers say that in cases like Libya, consensus on a military intervention would be difficult since different Arab countries support rival parties in the North African nation. 

Defense Secretary Carter: Iraqis lack ‘will to fight’ to defeat Islamic State

May 24

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter warned that Iraqi troops will not be able to defeat the Islamic State until they develop a “will to fight,” reflecting the deep level of concern and frustration inside some quarters of the Obama administration in the wake of the Iraqi military’s collapse in Ramadi last week. 

His comments, in an interview that aired Sunday, came after fighters with the Islamic State, which had appeared to be retreating in parts of Iraq, swept through the western Iraqi city of Ramadi and were gaining ground in Syria. 

President Obama has described the losses as a “tactical setback” and said that the administration’s overall strategy in Iraq and Syria would not change. Carter’s comments, though, suggested deeper problems with Iraqi forces. His remarks about the recent Iraqi defeats in Ramadi, a city where scores of U.S. troops were killed during the Iraq war, carried added gravity because they came over the Memorial Day weekend. 

Ten truths about the 1962 War

25 May , 2015

Mules carrying ammunition over a mountain pass during 1962 War

Here are some truths about the 1962 China’s War which are not often mentioned in history books or Reports from the Government.

1. The precise location of the border

In the Army HQ in Delhi as well as locally in the NEFA, nobody was really sure where exactly the border (the famous McMahon Line) was. It is the reason why the famous Henderson-Brooks report has been kept out of the eyes of the Indian public for fifty years. Till the fateful day of October 20, 1962, the Army bosses in Delhi were unable to tell the local commanders where the border in Tawang sector precisely was?

2. There was no map

Lt. Gen. Niranjan Prasad, GOC 4 Infantry Division wrote in his memoirs (The Fall of Towang): “It is hard to understand how any purposeful negotiation could have been conducted with Communist China [in 1960] when even such elementary details as accurate maps were not produced; or, if they were in existence, they were certainly not made available to the Army, who had been given the responsibility for ensuring the security of the border.”