2 July 2015

Look East for economic integration

G Parthasarathy
Jul 2 2015 

AT the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in 2003, the heads of government proclaimed: “To give effect to the shared aspirations for more prosperous South Asia, the (SAARC) leaders agreed on the vision of a phased and planned process, eventually leading to a South Asian Economic Union”. India’s regional economic integration has been far slower in South Asia, than what has transpired in its relations with ASEAN, with whom India has concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTA), in both goods and services.

Moreover, India has also concluded Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements, going well beyond FTA, with Japan and South Korea. Despite the conclusion of a SAARC Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan has placed crippling trade restrictions on Indian exports and made a farce of pious declarations to establish an Economic Union in South Asia. There is no realistic reason to believe this will change in the foreseeable future. 

How I was deported from India

July 2, 2015 

In an exclusive first-person account to The Hindu, Christine Mehta recalls how she was forced to leave India ostensibly for her scathing report on the draconian AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir

On Friday, November 8, 2014, as I was leaving my house in Bengaluru with a friend, three police officers approached us. I knew why they were there. The night before, I had received a mysterious phone call from the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Bengaluru. The woman official on the phone told me to report to the FRRO the next day, a holiday. I sought reasons. She refused, insisting instead that I report to the FRRO urgently. An American citizen of Indian origin, I had been living in Bengaluru for about three years, working on a valid visa as a researcher for Amnesty International India (AII). I told her that I would consult with my employer and revert to the FRRO on Monday.

Complicated friendship - Myanmar's problems in transition

Sanjay Pulipaka & Krishnan Srinivasan
Source Link

The recent developments on the India-Myanmar border would have come as a surprise to many. On that frontier, there are no gunfire exchanges or mutual allegations of transgressions as there are on the disputed India-Pakistan and India-China borders. Not only is there an absence of such friction, but local people can travel up to 16 kilometres across the India-Myanmar border without any visa formalities. In spite of this relaxed atmosphere, or possibly because of it, there are numbers of anti-Indian armed groups that use Myanmar as a base for their operations, and a few months ago, some of these insurgent groups, such as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang and elements of United Liberation Front of Asom have launched a common platform grandiosely called the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia.

Raking up the MQM-RAW link for brownie points

July 2, 2015 

Pakistan seems to be raising a calculated furore at a time when the MQM’s leaders are being investigated in the U.K. for possessing weapons and for money-laundering

The BBC’s so-called exposé on India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), funding the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party in Sindh, has triggered a furore. But has anyone in the BBC cared to look at the story’s sourcing? As someone who, for 17 years with the BBC, reported extensively on both intelligence and insurgency, I have doubts over the story’s veracity, written by my former colleague Owen Bennett-Jones, over the RAW’s MQM connections. The first line in the story gives it away — and over an issue all BBC reporters were trained to hold dear. This is how the story begins: “Officials in Pakistan’s MQM party have told U.K. authorities they received Indian government funds, the BBC learnt from an authoritative Pakistani source.”

The deal in Iran

Ramin Jahanbegloo
July 2, 2015 

The marathon nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers continue, while both sides are trying to keep their cards close to the chest in order to get to what Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called a “just” deal. The intensity and complexity of the negotiations between Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers have sparked speculation that the accord on Iran’s nuclear ambitions will not be signed immediately, but only in a few days time. Under the new framework drawn up in Lausanne, Iran agrees to substantially scale down its nuclear activities to prevent any attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

In return, Tehran has asked for immediate relief vis-a-vis economic and financial sanctions that have suffocated the economy by decreasing Iran’s oil exports and its ability to earn foreign currency. But there are tougher issues to be resolved. Among these is the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in keeping tabs on Iran’s nuclear sites to ensure that Tehran indeed reduces its capacities.

Remembering Modern India's Forgotten Reformer

P.V. Narasimha Rao addresses a joint session of U.S. Congress in 1994.

It took a non-Congress government to properly memorialize one of India’s greatest Congress prime ministers. 
History has a way of doing justice that is often as unpredictable as it is illuminating. The Modi government is ready with a memorial for late Indian Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao at New Delhi’sEkta Sthal Samadhi Complex, a common place for erecting memorials for former presidents, prime ministers and others, with the approval of the Union cabinet. Ten years after his demise, Rao has finally got a memorial in his name in the national capital. This move may be aimed at embarrassing the Congress party, but it does justice to the legacy of one of India’s finest prime ministers. A party that prays at the altar of the dynasty can never appreciate how far-reaching Rao’s accomplishments were.

1971: Manekshaw Prepares for War

By Maj Gen Sukhwant Singh
01 Jul , 2015

As in other Eastern countries, the Indian public is easily swayed by sentiment. Important issues are taken to the streets instead of being debated calmly. Slogan-shouting crowds are used by political leaders to build-up public opinion on issues of the moment. Even the news media lend a hand with subjective reporting and comments. Under such conditions, a government may sometimes be forced into a corner by vociferous public opinion and commit itself to a course of action it may later repent.

Afghanistan 2015: India should keep of the Strategic Muddle:

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Afghanistan in 2015 presents a complex strategic muddle for which India is neither politically, strategically, nor militarily equipped, to compete with the growing strategic convergence of Russia-China-Pakistan interests despite inherent self-contradictions among the three, and the unfolding Afghan-ISIS confrontation.

Admittedly, India has significant legitimate national security interests in the security and stability of Afghanistan, besides historical ties of shared strategic convergences on checkmating Pakistan’s unceasing ambitions for political and military control of Afghanistan. In 2015, the Afghanistan picture for India stands drastically changed with the ascendancy into power in Kabul of President Ashraf Ghani.

Afghanistan’s new President soon side-lined India in Afghanistan’s security calculus in favour of Pakistan and China, his first ports of call on becoming President. His courtesy call on the Pakistan Army Chief during his Islamabad visit was unbecoming of the Head of State of Afghanistan. He followed this up with cancellation of arms sales contracts with India and sending Afghan military officers for training in Pakistan and further announcing coordination of Afghanistan’s intelligence set-up with Pakistan Army’s intelligence agency-the ISI.

Taliban Reach Out to Iran

June 12, 2015 

A member of a Taliban group who recently went to Iran (Source: Khaama Press)

In an effort to break free from Pakistan’s influence, two different groups of Afghan Taliban leaders have during the last year reportedly explored the possibility of establishing a Taliban safe haven in Iran, while also seeking Tehran’s support for their insurgency. In October 2014, Abdul Qayum Zakir, the former leading Taliban military commander, visited Iran in secret and independently to discuss the idea according to reports in the media. A Taliban source who was recently briefed about Zakir’s trip said he was accompanied by two senior commanders, Mawlawi Awas and Mawlawi Zakir. Mawlawi Zakir’s real name is unknown, but his network is inspired by Abdul Qayum Zakir, while Mawalwi Awas is a well-known figure who serves as the Taliban shadow governor of Bala Buluk district, in western Farah Province, which borders Iran. The three apparently held talks with Iranian intelligence officials for several days, but Zakir, a hardliner, achieved little concrete in his visit. [1] A Taliban source said:

Af-Pak - Strategic Conflict Coalescing

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch 
01 Jul , 2015 

It is interesting to observe the myriad colours of geopolitical power ..

It is interesting to observe the myriad colours of geopolitical power play being enacted in the Af-Pak region. Closer home, in Pakistan, the anti-Shia sectarian violence has already claimed 170 lives this year, the increase attributed to the rise of ISIS influence in Pakistan, with terror groups like the TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamar (ASWJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba aligning with the ISIS. The visit of an ISIS delegation to Balochistan last September on behest of the Jundallah, followed by another ISIS-Jundallah meet in November 2014 in Saudi Arabia were no coincidences.

Growing Islamic State Influence in Pakistan Fuels Sectarian Violence

June 26, 2015

The aftermath of the Shikapur Imambargah blast in January (Source: Express Tribune).

A seemingly organized sectarian violence against Pakistan’s beleaguered minority Shi’a community has plumbed new depths in recent months with a series of bombings of Shi’a worshipping places and targeted killings that have left over 170 people dead so far in 2015. Previously the anti-Shi’a armed campaign was spearheaded by banned Sunni militant groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jundallah, which all are closely affiliated with Taliban conglomerate the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP–the Pakistani Taliban). However, with the arrival of Islamic State in Pakistan’s jihadist landscape, there has been a spike in the volume of anti-Shi’a violence, partly as a result of tafkiri jihadi groups like LeJ or Jundallah entering into alliance with the strongly anti-Shi’a Islamic State.

20 Points to Pakistan?

JUNE 29, 2015

It's been six months since Pakistan instituted its 20-point National Action Plan. Has Pakistan achieved any of the goals set forth in the Plan?

Pakistan instituted the twenty-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Dec. 24, 2014, as a comprehensive, consolidated list of steps needed to be taken by the state and law enforcement institutions to curb terrorism and extremism in the country. For Pakistan to finally take this step, it took a horrendous attack on schoolchildren at the Army Public School in Peshawar that left 141 dead, including 132 children.

The first of the 20 points in the NAP was the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan, which had been in effect since 2009. As of June 23, a total of 176 people — including two who may have been convicted as minors — have been executed in Pakistan since this decision, putting Pakistan on course to match the country with the most number of executions, Iran, which had 289 executions in 2014. (Experts believe thousands are executed in China every year, but since executions are considered a state-secret, no reliable data is available.) For comparison, the United States, which voted against the United Nations’ resolution for a global moratorium on death penalty, executed 17 people within the first six months of 2015.

Myanmar: Tilting Towards India

June 30, 2015: The army has sent more troops to their 1,643 kilometer long Indian border. This is in support of India which has a decades old tribal rebellion on its side of the frontier and only one battalion (fewer than 800 troops) per hundred kilometers of border. Thus there is ample opportunity for tribal rebels to sneak across and set up camps in Burma, safe from Indian security forces. Burma admits it is responsible for detecting and expelling these illegal visitors but most of the border area is thinly populated forests and mountains and it is very difficult to get troops into the area and very expensive to support them as they go after any intruders. So India sent a few more battalions to areas the rebels seem to prefer to cross at. This makes it more difficult for the rebels to move to their Burma sanctuaries but does not stop them. Because of the recent rebel ambush inside India, using Burmese bases, the Burmese army will use Indian intelligence on routes the rebels are using to cross the border and have Burmese troops watch and block these routes. Getting all the Burmese reinforcements in place will take until later in July.

On the Indian side of the border troops are limiting the amount of food people can take with them into Burma. People on the Burmese side rely on regular food imports from India so limiting the flow of food will limit what the Indian rebels get. The Indian rebels are not likely to take food by force from Burmese as this would turn the Burmese against them.

We Need To Talk About Bangladesh


The year was 2013, and Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, had picked up the phone. She was calling Khaleda Zia, her arch-nemesis and the head of the opposition, in an attempt to convince her to end yet another round of violent strikes and demonstrations that had brought the country to its knees.

Hasina: “We don’t want to quarrel.”

Zia: “You are quarreling.”

Hasina: “You are the only one doing the talking. You are not allowing me to talk.”

Zia: “Why would I do that? You are asking questions, I am replying.”

Hasina: “I am not getting a chance to speak.”


C. Raja Mohan

C. Raja Mohan is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi and heads its strategic studies program.

On a March 2015 trip to Seychelles and Mauritius, Narendra Modi outlined a bold framework that overturned the political approach that India had taken towards the Indian Ocean for half a century. Beginning in the late 1960s, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked all major powers to withdraw from the Indian Ocean out of concern for great power rivalry. This approach fit with India’s self-perception as a non-aligned and Third World state, and its desire to be economically self reliant and to distance itself from the British Raj, which had long been the central security provider in the Indian Ocean.

The context which gave rise to the Gandhi approach began to change in the 1990s, as India embarked on a policy of economic globalization and ended its military isolation. India’s new maritime imperatives did not, however, translate into a vigorous national strategy. India’s approach was weighed down by a lack of coherence, political ambivalence, and above all, persistence of a continentalist mindset in Delhi’s security establishment. The top political leadership still had neither the time nor the inclination to lay out clear goals for the Indian Ocean or the maritime space beyond. China, much like India, had long had a continentalist obsession. As China began to build a blue water navy and put its weight behind its own maritime vision for the Pacific and Indian Oceans, however, Delhi was forced to consider the implications for its own maritime security.

Why China Wants a Strong Euro as Greece Teeters

June 30, 2015 

Chinese companies are snapping up European assets

Chinese investment is pouring into Europe. It's one reason why Premier Li Keqiang, during a visit to Brussels this week, called for a strong euro and united Europe as the region grapples with the latest chapter in the Greek debt saga.

Can China Save Greece - and the EU?

China’s premier is in Europe just as the Greek debt crisis comes to a head. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in Europe this week to attend a China-EU summit in Brussels, as well as paying official visits to both Belgium and France. This trip marks Li’s sixth visit to Europe in the past three years, and his first official visit to EU headquarters since he assumed office in March 2013.

Li met with Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. Juncker and Tusk took office in November and December 2014, respectively; it was Li’s first meeting with them. The festivities weren’t exactly what might have been hoped for, as lingering questions about a possible Greek exit from the eurozone cast a pall over the meeting.

'Historic' AIIB Signing Marks Beginning of New Era, China Says

The AIIB agreement was signed in Beijing on June 29. 

A framework agreement for the operations of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was officially signed in Beijing today, with representatives from the 57 founding members gathering for the ceremony. However, only 50 countries actually signed the agreement – seven (Denmark, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, and Thailand) have to get the AIIB charter formally passed through domestic processes before they can officially sign. Chinese media said the seven are expected to join by the end of the year (although things may be more complicated in the case of the Philippines).

The signing of the agreement came with new clarity on how AIIB capital and voting rights will be divvied up. As expected, China is the largest shareholder, accounting for 30.34 percent of AIIB shares. China is followed by India (8.52 percent), Russia (6.66 percent), Germany (4.57 percent), and South Korea (3.81 percent). Australia, France, Indonesia, Brazil, and the U.K. round out the top ten. As I previously noted (see: “A Big Step Forward for China’s AIIB”), 75 percent of shares were reserved for Asian members, giving them a proportionately larger say in bank governance.

Meet China’s New Submarine Hunter Plane

Beijing’s newest anti-submarine warfare weapon is closing a critical capability gap. 

The four-engined Y-8GX6 (Y-8Q) turboprop anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft has purportedly finally entered service with the Chinese Naval Air Force after several years of testing, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

IHS Jane’s bases its report on an article published on a Chinese defense site, which notes that the ASW variant of the Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation (SAC) Y-8/Y-9 medium transport aircraft has been inducted into the North Sea Fleet.

The report neither elaborates on the number of aircraft that have entered service nor the precise induction date. However, it notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s East and South Sea Fleet’s will receive the plane only at a later date.

Equipped with air-launched torpedoes (e.g., Yu-7), anti-ship missiles, sea mines, and sonobuoys the plane has an estimated maximum range of approximately 5,00 km and, according to Popular Science Magazine, can potentially carry over ten tons.

Imagining a Future U.S.-China War

This is a bit of a departure from my usual writing, but I would like to recommend and discuss a book written by a friend and former colleague of mine, Peter Singer, entitled: Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War (co-authored with August Cole). I do so with admiration for the book—and also a firm conviction that many will find it important on the substance but also highly entertaining and a great summer read.

The book is to some extent in the Tom Clancy genre, but it looks a little further into the future, positing a war pitting the United States against a "Directorate" created by China and Russia in the 2020s. Beyond that basic fact, I will hereby commit to avoid discussing the plot any further, because it is fun and engaging and suspenseful.

It is also scary. It's scary because the whole thing is not implausible. One can debate just how likely, but not implausible. In fact, one of the best things about this book is that, while quite clever and extremely well informed, it does not try to be too clever. The plot line is not like something from left field, and the use of the future as well as futuristic technologies is not like fantastical science fiction.

How George Kennan Would Contend with China's Rise

"Americans tend to seek instant gratification. But China strategy calls for playing the long game."
Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, foreign policy wonks of all stripes have cast about searching for the Silver Bullet: What is the grand strategy to succeed containment? Where is the George Kennan of the Brave New 21st Century world?

The search began early on witoh the DOD’s 1992 Defense Planning Guidance which aimed at preventing “the re-emergence of a new rival … in the order posed formerly by the Soviet Union… from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power;” It continue through the 1990s’s with Madeleine Albright’s “indispensable nation.” That nobody has won the Kennan sweepstakes is not an indictment of the Leisure of the Theory Class. Rather, it reflects the extraordinary complexity of a world of increasing disorder and uncertainty, one where threats are many, but none rise to the level of existential threat posed by the USSR (though Putin is not doing a bad imitation).

China-India: Revisiting the ‘Water Wars’ Narrative

By Zhang Hongzhou 
June 30, 2015 

The “water wars” narrative in the context of the Brahmaputra River is premature and unhelpful. 

With China’s late-2014 completion of the Zangmu dam, the largest hydropower dam on the Brahmaputra River (known in Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River), many Indian and international security experts have been warning of the coming of “water wars” between the two countries

Those who worry about this scenario have three major arguments. First, China will face serious water shortages in the future and so will begin to divert water flow from the Brahmaputra River to its dry north. Second, this would be catastrophic for downstream countries. Third, China’s unwillingness to sign any binding agreement with downstream countries over trans-boundary rivers is evidence of Beijing’s insistence on absolute sovereignty over water, to the significant detriment of downstream countries. 

Understanding China’s Indian Ocean strategy

What are Chinese attack submarines doing in the Indian Ocean, far from China’s maritime backyard, in what is the furthest deployment of the Chinese Navy in 600 years?

Two Chinese subs docked last fall at the new Chinese-built and -owned container terminal in Colombo, Sri Lanka. And recently a Chinese Yuan-class sub showed up at the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

The assertive way China has gone about staking its territorial claims in the South and East China seas has obscured its growing interest in the Indian Ocean. This ocean has become the new global center of trade and energy flows, accounting for half the world’s container traffic and 70 percent of its petroleum shipments.

China’s newly released defense white paper, while outlining regional hegemony aspirations, has emphasized a greater focus on the seas, including an expanded naval role beyond its maritime backyard. The white paper says that, as part of China’s effort to establish itself as a major maritime power, its navy will shift focus from “offshore waters defense” to “open seas protection” — a move that helps explain its new focus on the Indian Ocean, with the Maritime Silk Road initiative at the vanguard of the Chinese grand strategy. To create a blue water force and expand its naval role, China is investing heavily in submarines and warships, and working on a second aircraft carrier.

Beijing’s bendable principles

Brahma Chellaney
June 13, 2015 

China claims neighbors’ territories by inventing the ingenious principle “what is ours is ours and what is yours is negotiable.” 

Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to publicly identify China on Chinese soil as an obstacle to closer bilateral ties by asking Beijing to “reconsider its approach” on some key issues. In a similar vein, his national security advisor, Ajit Doval, has classified China’s border stance as a “complete contravention of accepted principles,” pointing out that the Chinese agreed to the McMahon Line in “settling the border with Myanmar” but say “the same line is not acceptable in the case of India, particularly in Tawang.”

Don’t be surprised by this illogicality: In none of its disputes with neighboring countries has China staked a territorial claim on the basis of international law or norms. Rather, its claims flow from its revanchist view of the past — a shifting standpoint that reinterprets history to legitimize claims to territories long held by other countries. Because China does not apply the rule of law at home, it does not recognize its value in international relations.

For China, principles have always been bendable. And when it cannot bend a principle, it creates a new one.

Tunisia attack shows the war with Islamic State is bigger than we think

The true scale of the war against IS has gone largely unremarked on – until now.

As the number of Britons confirmed dead in the Sousse massacre continues to climb, David Cameron has again ruled out putting British troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria – but conceded that Islamic State (IS) is plotting “terrible attacks” on Western soil.

This is a sign that the attack in Tunisia has made the magnitude of the war against IS clearer than ever. Until now, the government has been able to downplay it – an official strategy reminiscent of the aftermath of July 7, 2005.

In the days after 52 people were killed in the 7/7 attacks, the Blair government was insistent that the war in Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the appalling massacre. That argument had to be rolled back eight weeks later when al-Jazeera screened a “martyr video” recorded by one of the bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, which drew an explicit link between the attack and UK foreign policy.

The US Military Should ‘Go Small’ to Defeat ISIS

JUNE 30, 2015

Static, fortified bases cede the initiative to the enemy. Unconventional and light is the better approach—even if it carries a higher degree of tactical risk.

As Iraqi government forces struggle to hold their own against the self-declared Islamic State, the limitations of the current U.S. strategy have become clear. Our side is losing both individual battles and the larger war. Although the fight against the Islamic State will not be won by ground combat alone—Vietnam taught us too well the gap between tactical success and strategic victory—we must begin by winning on the battlefield. In turn, this will require a reexamination of howU.S. forces in the region operate, as well as what level of risk senior leaders are able to accept.

Captain Robert A. Newson is a Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) officer who recently led strategy and concept development for the Naval Special Warfare Command. Previously, he commanded Special Operations Command (Forward) in Yemen and NSW Support Activity, a cross-functional intelligence operations ... Full Bio

The Day After Tomorrow: Preparing for the Aftermath of an Iranian Nuclear Deal

June 30, 2015 

Here is what we should expect once a nuclear agreement is signed by Iran and the P5+1.

With the June 30 calendar date for a final, verifiable nuclear agreement fast approaching, Iranian and P5+1 negotiators in Geneva are swiftly nearing the time when incredibly difficult decisions need to be made. Diplomacy between Tehran and the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been ongoing for roughly twenty-one consecutive months; indeed, the first round of preparatory talks started even before Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran’s president in a resounding victory in August 2013. The last week and a half will determine whether or not all of this time and expended political capital—an effort that has been particularly controversial in Washington and Tehran—will ultimately result in a comprehensive agreement that all parties can live with.

A Really Good Idea: Multinationalize Iran's Enirchment Program

June 30, 2015 

An innovative proposal to manage Iran's enrichment capability after the deal expires.

A major focus of criticism of the proposed deal with Iran is that the limitations on Iran’s uranium enrichment program will phase out after ten years. This is a valid concern and, if the deal is concluded, it should come with a commitment by the parties to start immediately on a plan to assure that Iran’s enrichment program does not reemerge as a threat to regional stability.

One way to do that would be to add a multinational layer of supervision to the program. Specifically, the United States and perhaps others among the six countries that have been negotiating with Iran could buy shares in its enrichment program in exchange for having full access to all the associated facilities and a say in how they are managed.

The National Commission on the War on Terrorism Is Hereby Called to Order

JUNE 30, 2015 

It’s time to get serious about evaluating America’s counterterrorism strategy.
On June 14, when F-15E fighter jets bombed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an al Qaeda commander in North Africa, the United States expanded the war on terrorism with its first explicit counterterrorism airstrike in Libya. What began with limited airstrikes in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, to topple the Taliban has expanded to seven other countries — Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Libya, and Syria — with sustained military or counterterrorism operations against terrorist groups and militant armies, most with no connection to 9/11 or any apparent intention or capability to directly attack the United States.

But while its alleged enemies have evolved, America’s strategy has not. Washington officials conflate local militancy with direct threats to the homeland, refuse to identify the enemy or the prioritization of adversaries, proclaim implausible strategic objectives, and stubbornly demonstrate no meaningful learning or adjustments over the past 13 years. The elements of this strategy remain unquestioned and, subsequently, ineffective.

ISIS : One year on

by Niall McCarthy
June 30th, 2015 

It is roughly one year since Isis announced it was establishing a caliphate in territories under its control in both Iraq and Syria.

Award-winning Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn is writing a series of articles for the Independent marking this anniversary. His latest article, examining "the seven wars in seven Muslim countries that are fuelling Isis", contains this graphical feature from Statista.

This chart provides an overview of the seven wars in Muslim countries. 

BBC’s Fantasy on India-MQM Nexus

For over a year and a half now, the signals emerging from London are extremely negative. On the surface, the British appear to be very keen to engage India, in particular the Modi government, and leave no opportunity to pay lip-service to the ostensibly close and friendly relations between India and the UK. They are also very eager to tap into the business opportunities that are opening up in India. But behind the scenes, on the security front, the British have been doing a lot that directly impinges on and has serious implications for India’s security. The scandalous report – not so much on account of its laughable content but more because of its shockingly shoddy journalism which even tabloids would be embarrassed to own up to – alleging that the Pakistani political party, MQM, was being funded by India is yet another indication of the sinister game that is being played by the British against India, and in favour of Pakistan.

Quite aside the fact that BBC’s reportage is no divine text cast in stone and therefore unchallengeable, the myth of BBC’s independence and the unimpeachable integrity of its journalism has been badly exposed over the last couple of decades. The Iraq war and the Musharraf referendum are just two instances when the BBC tweaked its reports to suit the interests of the British government. Had the Musharraf referendum taken place before 9/11, the BBC would have probably reported that it was a farce. But post 9/11, after Musharraf had become an ‘ally’ of the West in the War on Terror – we know more than a decade later what sort of an ally Pakistan was and what sort of a war it fought against terror – and therefore anything he did to cement his position – including an utterly rigged referendum – was kosher. So much for BBC’s claims of unbiased news and its independent journalism!

Cars made in America? Chrysler, Ford no longer qualify

JUNE 29, 2015

The latest ranking of the most American vehicles you can buy is out—and the results are surprising. 

The phrase “made in America” has always pulled at the hearts and wallets of loyal, red-blooded consumers, and never more so than in the automotive space. But according to research released Monday, the car company that qualifies as most American is….the Toyota Camry.

Cars.com released its 10th American Made Index (AMI) of the vehicles that qualify as the most American—based on where parts are manufactured (a vehicle must be made of at least 75% U.S. parts to even make the list), where the vehicle is built, and what percentage of the vehicles’ sales are U.S.-based, among other factors.

This year’s AMI yielded a few surprises. The Toyota Camry is, apparently, the most American vehicle on sale in the U.S. Surprise No. 2: Ford fell off the list entirely this year—even though the F-150 pickup topped the list in 2013 and 2014. (A Chrysler hasn’t shown up since 2012.) Surprise No. 3: Ten years ago, when Cars.com began compiling the AMI, 29 vehicles made the cut; this year, only seven did—not even enough for a Top Ten. Globalization is here.

Lessons For India From Greece

Surajit Dasgupta is National Affairs Editor, Swarajya.

Hopefully, readers won’t find the comparisons Greek. The European country is a typical example of the ultimate fate socialism and populism meet. India, beware!

In terms of economics, this is the chronology that unfolded in Greece, which the whole news media is talking about today. 

Greece enters Eurozone in 2001. 

Unfortunately Europe goes into recession around 2008. Greece being poor, suffers more with 28 per cent unemployment. 

Being part of Eurozone, Greece can’t print more drachma to reduce its value in international market and make Greek exports attractive. 

Abe and Putin May Meet in November

Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin will plan to meet on the sidelines of international summits in November 2015. 
According to Japanese government sources, a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia may take shape this November. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe and Putin spoke on the phone and agreed to meet on the sidelines of upcoming international conferences, including the Group of 20 nations (G20) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting (APEC). Both conferences are scheduled for November. The sideline meetings will set the ground for a proper leaders summit between the Japanese and Russian leaders, possibly later this year.

U.S. Asia Policy: The Africa-Asia Angle

By Mercy A. Kuo and Angelica O. Tang
June 30, 2015

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 Ambassador Cameron Hume – United States Ambassador to Algeria (1997-2000), South Africa (2001-2004), and Indonesia (2007-2010) – is the eighth in “The Rebalance Insight Series.”

Ambassador Hume, your experiences as a career diplomat with posts in Africa and Asia give you a broad perspective on U.S. diplomacy in these emerging areas of the world. Asian countries – China, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, among others – are actively engaging African nations on a range of issues from infrastructure investment to natural resources to development aid. What are the key elements driving interlinkages between Africa and Asia?

U.S., China, and Brazil Make Climate Pledges Ahead of Paris Summit

JUNE 30, 2015 

Major economies, rich and poor alike, are taking serious steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s a sea change in global efforts to fight rising temperatures. 

The world’s two biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions announced plans Tuesday to clean up their economies and aggressively develop low-carbon energy sources to better fight climate change.

China on Tuesday formally presented its plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in preparation for the big United Nations climate summit in Paris later this year. If met, the targets, coming from the world’s largest source of greenhouse gases, would seem to give the planet a fighting chance to avert the worst impacts of climate change later in this century.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to work more closely on climate issues with Brazil, including effectively tripling the amount of renewable energy like wind and solar power in the United States by 2030. Brazil announced similar targets. The United States has already committed to reducing emissions by about 28 percent by 2025.

Science Doyens Laud 'India's Best-kept Secret’ IISc For Its Role in Strategic Sectors

By Papiya Bhattacharya
27th June 2015 

BENGALURU: In a session on ‘Contribution of IISc to Strategic Sectors’, leaders from Indian science and technology elaborated on how the institute has played an important role in the development of many technologies of national importance. This event was a part of the IISc Alumni Global Conference.

Dr Kiran Kumar, chairperson of the Space Commission and an IISc alumnus, said, “If ISRO exists today, it’s mostly because of its connections with IISc.” He spoke about the stalwarts of India’s space programme, Prof Brahm Prakash, Prof B L Deeshatulu, Dr S Srinivasan and others, who were from IISc.

The architects of the Indian space programme, Dr Vikram Sarabhai and Prof Satish Dhawan, had close connections with IISc. Prof Dhawan also served as the Director of IISc from 1962 to 1981.

US Navy to Deploy Robot Ships to Track Chinese and Russian Subs

June 30, 2015

Work on the U.S. Navy’s new anti-submarine drone is progressing and that’s bad news for diesel-electric subs. 

Diesel-electric submarines are cheaper and quieter than their nuclear counterparts and they are rapidly being procured by states opposed to the national interests of the United States.

While not capable of traveling long distances or at great speed, diesel-electric submarines have the potential to deny the U.S. Navy access to strategic coastal areas and could also interrupt seaborne commerce. Equipped with air-independent propulsion systems and advanced lithium-ion batteries, the next generation of diesel-electric boats will even be harder to track down and destroy in the event of a naval conflict.

“Picking up the quiet hum of a battery-powered, diesel-electric submarine in busy coastal waters is like trying to identify the sound of a single car engine in the din of a major city,” Rear Admiral Frank Drennan, commander of the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, emphasized in March 2015.

Who's accountable if your personal data gets hacked?

June 30, 2015

U.S.: Hack of 18 million Americans came from China 01:13 

Story highlights 

As many as 18 million Americans may have had personal data hacked due to invasion of federal databases 
Callan: Massive breach of federal employees' personal data shows the need to make officials step up the level of security 

Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst, a former homicide prosecutor and media law professor. He is "of counsel" to two law firms: Edelman & Edelman, PC and Callan, Koster, Brady & Nagler, LLP. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)During the past few weeks, much of the nation was mesmerized by the daring escape of two convicted murderers from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York. The saga ended with one of the fugitives dead from gunshot wounds while the other convict is in custody recovering from wounds of his own. Two prison employees have been charged with aiding and abetting in the escape.