13 October 2015


The Statesman, New Delhi, 11 October 2015 page 7. (www.thestatesman.com).

The Chinese saying “Due to Mao Zedong, we could stand up; thanks to Deng Xiaoping, we are getting rich” highlights China’s two stages of growth.

Xi Jinping is now in his third year as party General Secretary of the CCP, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and President of China. After Deng Xiaoping he is the third maximum leader of China after Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Nobody before him, excluding Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, had been able to concentrate so much power in their hands as Xi Jinping. Both his immediate predecessors took some time to consolidate their positions, especially Hu Jintao who took over from Jiang Zemin. The reason for the time lag in consolidation of power was on account of the predecessors dragging their feet in handing over power after their tenure to try and position their own persons as members of the important Politburo as well as other key appointments, especially in the CMC; the reason being to maintain residual political power and to ensure the continuation of their policy as long as possible. It was also an exercise to ensure that the family, close friends and associates of the leader handing over power were not targeted by the successor, so that the treatment meted out to Hu Yaobang and Zhou Zhiyang by Deng Xiaoping was not repeated. This fear continues to lurk and will not go away easily.

Chinese leaders since the time of Mao have developed a penchant for enunciating their policies in pithy three-word maxims or short phrases like the “Three Represents”. Deng Xiaoping, of course, during his southern sojourn made an unique contribution to China’s break from rigid state control of the economy by his famous maxim, “It is glorious to be rich”. Deng Xiaoping thereby laid the foundation for China’s rise as a world power. In less than a quarter century after Deng’s historic turn China has overtaken the leading economies of the world to become a world power of the first rank, , both economic and military. It has enabled Xi Jinping to unfurl his famous ‘Dream’ for the future of China.

Not only has Xi Jinping’s recently unfolded dream taken China further than many of his predecessor’s could think of, it has set alarm bells ringing in China’s neighborhood; starting from the Pacific Ocean, to East Asia, South China Sea and on to the Indian subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. Mr. Xi has been able to flesh out his dream very early in his tenure. To an extent the enabler can be said to have been Hu Jintao who had put China’s economy on a sound footing. Xi has concomitantly undertaken to push the development of Chinese military might. If there were any doubts as to where China was headed, these doubts should have been laid to rest by China’s latest defense paper and more so by the military parade held in early September 2015 in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat and capitulation. Since tomes have been written on China’s rising military power and the new weapon systems displayed to the world for the first time during the September military parade it is not being dwelled upon any further.

Article By MEMRI Scholar Tufail Ahmad: India's Thought Cops Are Angry With Modi

October 11, 2015 Special Dispatch No.6181

Following is the full text of an article by MEMRI South Asia Studies Project director Tufail Ahmad, which was originally published by the India Facts website on October 5, 2015.[1]
"In the last week of September at Dadri not far from the Indian capital, an angry mob lynched to death Mohammad Akhlaq over allegations that a cow was slaughtered and he ate beef.
"In the 1970s and 1980s in Bihar where there was no Bharatiya Janata Party, cow slaughter was still banned and there were times when there would be conflicts over beef and policemen would visit homes.
"Beef conflicts are not new to contemporary India. Cows are not slaughtered across the Islamic world, but the reason cows are slaughtered mostly in the Indian Subcontinent is because Indian Islamists introduced the practice of cow slaughter here as a challenge to the Hindu religious practice of worshiping cows.

"Fikr-e-Nau (New Thinking), a newly launched Urdu magazine published by Pakistani Marxists – explores the issue of cow slaughter (a translation will be published soon by MEMRI).
"You can look further back into history.
"During the 16th century when the BJP and RSS did not exist, Emperor Akbar outlawed the practice of cow slaughter but the greatest Islamic scholar of the time Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi lambasted the Mughal emperor asking why Muslims couldn't slaughter cows under a Muslim government.
"While Akbar was sensitive towards the majority Hindus' religious sensibilities, Islamists like Sheikh Sirhindi, much like the present-day commentators, were not bothered about them. Fikr-e-Nau goes on to argue that in the lands comprising Pakistan today, cow slaughter was brought by Indian Islamist organizations arriving there after the Partition in 1947.

"But the issue being debated about the Dadri lynching is not a religious one.
"At this point in time when India is at the cusp of emerging as a global power, even the most so-called right-wing Hindus hold the following view: Any person [violating] the country's rule of law should be prosecuted and jailed without delay.
"Lawmaker and prominent BJP member Tarun Vijay, in an article dated October 2, advocated this line of thinking, calling for handling this issue 'via the lawful path that the Constitution has provided' and urging the Akhilesh Yadav government to 'take serious note of this.'
"A purely secular view requires this: the socialist government of Akhilesh Yadav must act ruthlessly and quickly against anyone taking the law into their hands. However, such a course is not advocated by India's liberal-secular intelligentsia which loves to engage in religious politics instead — of late, crudely.

The Original Himalayan Blunder: How India Lost Gilgit-Baltistan


The original Himalayan Blunder was with regard to the Gilgit Agency and the Wazarat, which…

The original Himalayan Blunder was with regard to the Gilgit Agency and the Wazarat, which many don’t even remember. Gilgit-Baltistan, as we know it today comprised Gilgit Agency and Gilgit Wazarat back in 1947.

A lot has been written about the Himalayan Blunder committed by India in 1962. Even more has been written about the blunders committed in the prosecution of the Kashmir War of 1947, notably thereference to the United Nations by Jawaharlal Nehru at a time India was gaining momentum in the war. Poonch had been secured. Enemy forces had been chased away from the outskirts of Leh and Kargil had been won back. The Poonch-Uri road had been secured. India only needed a last push to capture Skardu back and take Muzaffarabad and Mirpur.

History would also tell you that Jammu and Kashmir was also the only princely state which was not under the charge of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Kashmir was a separate Ministry under the Government of India and was directly under the charge of Prime Minister Nehru.

I would not labour the oft repeated events that pre-dated the accession of Kashmir to India.

I begin at the point of accession.

Field Marshal Manek Shaw
There is a fine account by Late Field Marshal Manek Shaw who was then the Director of Military Operations in the Army HQ in the rank of a Colonel. General Sir Roy Bucher, the C-in-C of the Indian Army sent him to accompany VP Menon who was flying to Srinagar to get the Instrument of Accession signed.

The Kabaili tribals were hardly 10-12 kms away from the Srinagar airfield. They came back on 25th Oct, and it is worth recalling in Manek Shaw’s own words what happened the next morning in a meeting of the Cabinet Defence Committee:

“At the morning meeting he handed over the (Accession) thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, ‘come on Manekji (He called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?’ I gave him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.
As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, ‘Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away’. He (Nehru) said,’ Of course, I want Kashmir (emphasis in original). Then he (Patel) said ‘Please give your orders’. And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, ‘You have got your orders’.

Prophecy & the Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent


Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are competing with each other for recruitment on the South Asian subcontinent. As has been the case in other regions where radical Islamists have congregated (including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria), jihadi recruitment in the region covering Pakistan, India and Bangladesh is aided by competing claims of divine support. 

Radical Islamists invoke the Hadith (the oral traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) to prophesize a great battle in India between true believers and unbelievers before the end-times. These references in the Hadith to the Ghazwa-e-Hind (Battle of India) infuse South Asia with importance as a battleground in the efforts to create an Islamic caliphate resembling the social order that existed at the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 AD). 

The South Asian region has a long history with jihadi movements, dating back to the eighteenth century. During the 1980s, it became the staging ground for global jihad as part of the internationally-backed guerilla war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. At the time, radical Islamists poured into Afghanistan through Pakistan and received advanced military training to fight the Soviets. Later, many returned to their home countries to conduct terrorist attacks. The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Pakistan-backed insurgency in Kashmir against India also stoked jihadism in the region. 
The first generation of al-Qaeda commanders and ideologues were veterans of the anti-Soviet Afghan war. ISIS, too, has been influenced greatly by the so-called Arab-Afghans and their disciples. During the war against the Soviets and the ensuing Taliban rule, ancient prophecies of Khurasan – which includes modern Afghanistan – resurfaced to inspire jihadists and promise great heavenly rewards. These prophecies foreshadowed the appearance of the Mahdi or Messiah and the final battle between good (pure Islam) and evil before judgement day. According to one Hadith, an army with black flags would emerge from Khurasan to help the Mahdi establish his caliphate at Mecca. 

India's bureaucracy is 'worst in Asia'


12 January 2012 
From the sectionIndia

Image captionIndia's many bureaucrats are rarely held to account, the report said
India's bureaucracy is the worst in Asia, according to a report.

The report by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranks bureaucracies across Asia on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the worst possible score. India scored 9.21.
India fared worse than Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and China.

The report said India's bureaucracy was responsible for many complaints businessmen had about India, like lack of infrastructure and corruption.

It also said that Indian bureaucrats were rarely held accountable for wrong decisions.

"This gives them [bureaucrats] terrific powers and could be one of the main reasons why average Indians as well as existing and would-be foreign investors perceive India's bureaucrats as negatively as they do," said the report, quoted by the Press Trust Of India news agency.
India's government has not reacted to the report.
Singapore remained the country with the best bureaucracy, with a rating of 2.25. It was followed by Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

Sharifs and a make-believe


Nawaz is not as powerful as Raheel. As the Pakistan army exerts real power, democracy is more and more a facade.

Written by Christophe Jaffrelot | Published:October 13, 2015 

The army is pursuing this policy because it is clearly popular: Karachiites appreciate that crime has declined and that Islamists have been targeted.
On my way from Karachi airport to the city three weeks ago, I noticed large portraits of General Raheel Sharif at almost each crossing. That was a sign of a public-relations offensive that was as systematic in the media: One channel shows him comforting families of victims of terrorism, another broadcasts images of Raheel Sharif celebrating Eid al-Adha with soldiers in Khyber Agency.

This development is taking place at the expense of politicians, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is not as visible in the public sphere. When he became PM, Nawaz Sharif had three points on his agenda, which were not to the military’s liking: He was determined to bring former army chief Pervez Musharraf to face the courts, he wanted to negotiate with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and he was willing to improve relations with India.
The army opposed this agenda, and none of these objectives were realised. Not only because Raheel Sharif, who took over as army chief in late 2013, objected to some of them, but also because the generals were able to use other politicians to weaken the government. This was evident from the August-September 2014 anti-Nawaz Sharif demonstrations that were overtly orchestrated by Imran Khan but covertly benefited from the ISI’s support.

The political fate of Nawaz Sharif was subsequently sealed in the aftermath of the Peshawar tragedy, in which 134 sons of militarymen were killed in December 2014. Indeed, the National Action Plan (NAP) that was shaped in reaction envisaged a major role for the army. Parliament amended the constitution to create military courts. “Apex committees”, in which the military had the upper hand, were created in each province as well as at the Centre for implementing the NAP.

Operation Malabar: A warning to China


October 12, 2015 
'China's South China Sea build-up and 'territorial sea' construct potentially affects 55 percent of Indian trade passing through the region. Hence, coordinating with the US and Japan could provide dividends to India in the longer run,' says Srikanth Kondapalli.

IMAGE: The Indian Navy during its Theatre Readiness Operational Level Exercises, TROPEX-2015, off the coast of Goa in the Arabian Sea, this February.

From October 12 to 19, a high-level trilateral exercise between the naval forces of India, the United States and Japan will be held in the Bay of Bengal as a part of the extended Malabar Exercises.

Conducted since 1992 between India and the United States, Japan was invited to participate in these exercises in this region. Bilaterally, both the US and India have conducted exercises with Japan earlier.

India and Japan conducted the first naval exercise in June 2012. All three navies, in addition to Singapore and Australia, joined the multilateral exercises of September 2007, but discontinued after China had issued a demarche.

The exercise acquires political significance and legitimacy as it is a follow-up to the first foreign ministerial meeting at New York on September 29 between these three countries. All three nations had seven meetings by June 2015 at the joint secretary level since 2011, but decided to elevate the coordination.

Several new developments in the recent past have triggered interest in this trilateral exercise. One of the primary concerns is the challenge to the free flow of goods and services on the high seas in the recent times and strengthening the Indo-Pacific idea.

Specifically, sustained efforts to counter piracy incidents in the Indian Ocean paid off, but these incidents re-surfaced in the South China Sea. In 2014, for instance, according to the International Maritime Organisation statistics, nearly half the global piracy incidents erupted in the South China Sea, calling for attention of the stake-holders in the region.

Windows 10 Sees Faster Adoption Than Its Predecessors

by Felix Richter, Statista.com

Things have been going pretty well for Microsoft lately.

Just this week, the company unveiled its first laptop to very positive reception and Windows 10, the successor to the widely unpopular Windows 8, continues to do very well. According to data published by NetMarketShare, Windows 10, released on July 29th, has seen faster adoption post-launch than its predecessors including the immensely successful Windows 7. In September, Windows 10 was installed on 6.6 percent of all PCs, which put it ahead of the most recent version of Apple's OS X at that time (Yosemite).

This chart illustrates the adoption of Windows 7, 8 and 10 in the first months after their respective releases.

The Kunduz Wakeup Call


The outnumbered Taliban’s triumph over the Afghan security forces has demonstrated that the Afghan forces are not properly equipped and battle-ready enough to protect their country from the Taliban.

The timing of Taliban’s Kunduz offensive is important. Over the last few weeks, Afghan President Abdul Ghani has resigned to the fact that Pakistan can’t be engaged in rational dialogue. He has now fully understood that most of the Afghani Taliban factions are puppets in the hands of Pakistani establishments. Pakistan’s idea of viewing Afghanistan in terms of ‘strategic depth’ is not new. Ashraf Ghani is more a scholar than a politician who genuinely wished to engage with Pakistan and Taliban to give peace a chance.

He proceeded with his peace initiatives despite stiff opposition from country’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, the former President Hamid Karzai and strong voices like Amrullah Saleh. Once he realized how the Pakistani establishment had mischievously concealed the death of Taliban supreme commander Mullah Omar, the tone and tenor of his discourse changed completely. The first peace initiative held in Islamabad on 7th July did not cut any ice and President Ghani was taken aback by the bullish Pakistani attitude.

After the recent attacks in Kabul last August, he came out openly against Pakistan:

Afghanistan: An Opportunity for U.S.–China Cooperation?


October 12, 2015

Michael Auslin has called for a “new realism” in U.S. foreign policy toward China in these pages, one that “begins with an official acceptance that we are locked in a competition with China that is of Beijing’s choosing.” Moreover he suggests that Sino-U.S. dialogue must be “reset” and “conducted not as an unearned gift to Beijing, but only when there are concrete goals to be achieved.”

While some, such U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, may dispute the first claim as “lazy rhetoric,” the second admonition to structure the relationship through a focus on the concrete goals and interests of each party isn’t as easily dismissed.

The problem in the current climate of Sino–U.S. relations, however, is to identify areas in which those interests overlap to “mutual benefit” more than they diverge. China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) strategy is an area that holds potential.

According to John Hudson, where U.S. officials see China’s resurgence and ambition in the Asia–Pacific as the core driver of regional insecurity, in Eurasia they see a “surprising convergence of U.S. and Chinese interests” that “boils down to one mutual goal: security.”

From this perspective, Beijing shares Washington’s desires to see a stable and secure Afghanistan and Pakistan due primarily to Beijing’s own concerns with Uyghur terrorism in Xinjiang.

The strength of this view is based on two major factors.

From Turkey To The Baltics, NATO Faces Up To Russia


-- this post authored by David J Galbreath, University of Bath

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, has said the organisation is "ready and able to defend all allies, including Turkey against any threats". This followed incursions into Turkish airspace by Russian planes. On the same day, UK defence secretary, Michael Fallon announced that around 100 British troops would be deployed to the Baltic region.

Arguably these actions and others are a response to what Admiral Mark Ferguson, the commander of US Naval Forces Europe, described as Russia's "arc of steel" - a chain of air, land and sea defence assets stretching from the Arctic to the Middle East.

These gestures herald what many in NATO see as an ominous new turn in Russia's behaviour. This sea change in NATO-Russia relations has its roots way back in the Kosovo conflict, but finally seems to be coming full circle - first in Ukraine and now in Syria.
Deteriorating relations

Russia has reportedly had both regular and irregular troops operating in eastern Ukraine, not to mention Crimea, and has now entered into the civil war in the air over Syria to help prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, along with the Iranians and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Now both Ukraine and Syria are being used to illustrate how Russia is a growing threat to European security. NATO's role is to give reassurance to not only the Baltic States and Poland but also now to Turkey.

Can Afghan Forces Resist the Taliban?


Interviewee: Stephen D. Biddle, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Defense Policy
Interviewer: Zachary Laub, Online Writer/Editor
October 9, 2015

The Taliban's brief seizure of Kunduz marked its first capture of a provincial capital in the fourteen years since the U.S. invasion. It also signaled the vulnerability of Afghan security forces, which were able to reclaim Kunduz only with U.S. air support. Ultimately, the only acceptable outcome is a negotiated settlement between the government and Taliban, says CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Stephen Biddle, but that could be a long time off, given turmoil within the Taliban. Ahead of any talks, Afghan forces will have to maintain a stalemate with the Taliban, says Biddle, but without air power and hobbled by political divisions, they will require U.S. support well beyond the narrow mission that President Barack Obama articulated in June 2014.
Afghan National Army officers at a training exercise in Kabul. (Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

Kunduz was the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban since 2001. What does that say about Afghan forces' ability to hold territory beyond Kabul?

If you want to defend everywhere, it requires a lot of people. The United States has been trying for a long time to get the Afghan government to make decisions about places that it doesn't need to hold so that it can concentrate in places that matter, but the Afghan government is reluctant to give up any territory, and it has ended up overextended.

Is Caspian Sea Fleet a Game-Changer?

By Christopher P. CavasOctober 11, 2015 

WASHINGTON — Few naval strategists would count Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla among significant units in an order of battle. The inland sea features naval forces from the four bordering countries — Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan in addition to Russia — but most vessels are small missile-armed or patrol craft, nearly all well under 1,000 tons. The forces have been viewed purely as local craft.

But that changed on Oct. 7, when four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea launched a reported 26 Kalibr SS-N-30A cruise missiles at targets in Syria, nearly 1,000 nautical miles away. While most analysts dismissed the military effects of the missile strikes, the fact that such small, inexpensive and relatively simple craft can affect ground operations that far away is significant.

“It is not lost on us that this launch from the Caspian Sea was more than just hitting targets in Syria,” said a US official. “They have assets in Syria that could have handled this. It was really about messaging to the world and us that this is a capability that they have and they can use it.”

The Kalibr missile used in the strikes is an improved version of the Granat land-attack cruise missile, similar to the US Navy’s Tomahawk, that travels at subsonic speeds. Designated 3M-14T by the Russians — SS-N-30A is the NATO designation — the Kalibr long-range version has only recently reached operational status. A submarine-launched version is in service, along with a ship-launched version equipping larger ships, including the Project 1161K Gepard-class light frigate Dagestan, which took part in the operation. But until now it was not clear that smaller ships, including the Project 21631 Buyan-M corvettes that also took part in the Oct. 7 attacks, could operate the weapon.

Wake up India: Neglecting science could kill it one day


Sumit Bhaduri, Hindustan Times | 
Updated: Oct 11, 2015 

Google honours Sir CV Raman the Nobel laureate physicist on his 125th birth anniversary. (Photo courtesy: Google) 

October is that month when institutions in Sweden and Norway, including the Swedish Academy of Sciences, announce the winners of the Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics and peace. The awards in physics, chemistry and medicine have a long history and it is probably this long tradition, rather than their monetary value, that gives the Nobel Prize the extraordinary power to influence public perceptions of the scientific profession.

A question sometimes asked, though perhaps less often than it should be by Indian politicians and the intelligentsia, is why, despite our much-touted scientific acumen, no Nobel Prize in science has been won by an Indian for work done in India for more than 80 years — as Sir CV Raman won the physics Nobel in 1930.

This question is an important one since the teaching and doing of science require substantial resources that come from the tax payer. An obvious answer is that for Indian science to reach such prize-winning calibre we require not just ‘outstanding’ discoveries in science but also what it takes to come up with them and that these requirements have undergone changes beyond recognition since the Raman era. The question we should rather be asking today is what kind of science allows individual excellence to thrive, bring glory to the nation, and deliver tangible benefits to society.

America's Grand Strategy to Contain China: The Trans-Pacific Partnership?


October 12, 2015

Is the TPP an effort to contain China?

If you've been reading the papers or glancing at social media recently, you could be forgiven for thinking so. The New York Times didn't quite use the word containment, but argued that the agreement was a “win for the United States in its contest with China.”

There is a strategic dimension to the American push to conclude the TPP, but it's not about containing China. Rather, the TPP is part of the Obama Administration's broader Rebalance strategy to update and reinforce the liberal international order in the Asia-Pacific. 

On the political side of things, this means the peaceful resolution of disputes, ensuring freedom of navigation, and the freedom to access information. On the economic side, it means, inter alia, updating the trading rules to reflect technological advances that have increased the value of information relative to resources in global trade. These changes have required negotiators to go beyond tariffs and address behind-the-border rules that affect trade.

Those pushing a containment narrative note that the pact excludes China, but ignore the fact that American officials have repeatedly said that they are open to China's eventual accession to the agreement. The President himself made this point last December:

“And by the way, there's been some suggestion that by doing TPP we're trying to contain or disadvantage China. We're actually not. What we are trying to do is make sure that rather than a race to the bottom in the region there's a reasonable bar within which we can operate. And we hope that then China actually joins us in not necessarily formally being a member of TPP but in adopting some of the best practices that ensure fairness in operations.”

That said, negotiators have had to be realistic, recognizing that it would have been very difficult for China to sign up to these standards at the start. Better, then, to create the partnership now with governments that are ready to go, demonstrate the agreement's value, and entice other countries, including China, to sign on to the agreement or adopt some of the standards it sets as their own.

Why Russia Needs Syria


Top, AFP/Getty Images; bottom, AP Photo/Sergei Chirikov, Pool
Top, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev, 1980; bottom, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2005

Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict has fundamentally changed the dynamic of the four-and-a-half-year-old war there. With a bombing campaign that now includes launching cruise missiles into Syria from Russian warships in the Caspian Sea, the Kremlin is gambling that it can preserve the weakened Assad regime. The move brings Russia into a costly and intractable civil war, raises the threat of terrorism by Islamist groups in Russia, and puts Russian forces in direct confrontation with the US-led coalition that is arming moderate Syrian rebels and fighting ISIS. 

So the question arises: Why is Russia doing this now? According to a high-level source in the Kremlin, the decision to intervene in Syria was urged on Putin this summer by three senior members of his team: Sergei Ivanov, head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the FSB and now the leader of the Russian Security Council. Assad’s regime was increasingly in danger, facing not only ISIS, but al-Nusra, and holding, by some estimates, less than 17 percent of Syria’s territory. Even members of Syria’s Alawite minority, to which the Assad family belongs and which are a crucial base of his support, had begun fleeing the country. With the conflict in Ukraine still unresolved and Putin increasingly isolated by the West, intervention in the Middle East was intended to reassert Russia as a major world power and act as a counterforce to Western support for the Ukrainian government in Ukraine. 

It was no surprise that the principal targets of Russian bombing raids in Syria have not been ISIS, but rather other rebel groups that the US and its Western allies support. (Though Russian cruise missiles have now also been directed as ISIS targets.) Putin, in his appearance at the UN in late September, stated unequivocally that Russia was committed to keeping the Assad regime in power, and from the Kremlin’s point of view, this makes sense. Russia fears the total collapse of the Syrian state, which would end a decades-old alliance and threaten its strategic position in the Middle East. And it views Islamic insurgents as not only a threat to Assad, but also a potential threat at home. 

Reviewing the Week: ISW Intelligence Summary

October 11, 2015, Institute for the Study of War

Key Take-Away

Russia has escalated its military actions against NATO from its new airbase in Syria. Russian warplanes have violated Turkish airspace twice, repeatedly locked Turkish F-16s in their radar, and intercepted three U.S. Predator drones over Syria. Russian warships in the Caspian Sea also launched cruise missiles against targets in Syria via Iranian and Iraqi airspace on October 7 without warning the U.S., its coalition allies, or Iraq. NATO Ministers met for a second time within a week; Secretary-General Stoltenberg reaffirmed that NATO forces are prepared to deploy to “wherever is needed” including Turkey. NATO’s response is otherwise aimed at long-term deterrence. Russia will likely continue to test the boundaries of NATO’s will to invoke Article 5 on collective defense.

Russia is trying to marginalize the United States by deepening its relationships with other regional states. Russian volunteers will likely support the Syrian regime and Iranian forces in their ground campaign in central Syria. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has wavered as other Iraqi Shi'a politicians and Iranian-backed proxy militias have endorsed Russian airstrikes and demanded Russian assistance. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry publicly approved the Russian air campaign and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 8 in order to help reach “political settlements to the crises in the region at the soonest possible time.” Senior Russian political and military figures also met with officials in Jordan and Israel to discuss efforts to coordinate their activities against terrorism in Syria and throughout the Middle East. Russian likely intends to lure traditional U.S. partners in the Middle East towards its alliance with Iran and Syria, undermining the position of the U.S.

The geopolitical struggle between Russia and the U.S. has overshadowed Afghanistan’s deteriorating security. The main Taliban faction continued its offensive in the north. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have clashed fiercely with Taliban militants in Kunduz City, which fell on September 28. General John Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, testified that security situation in the country warrants considering a residual U.S. troop contingent of three-to-five thousand after 2016 rather than the 1,000 that the White House has approved. Nonetheless, these numbers appear insufficient as Afghanistan descends into further violence while 9,800 U.S. troops remain. Russia bolstered its military forces in the capital of Tajikistan on October 7 as the Taliban’s northern offensive continued. Russia has a security agreement protecting Tajikistan, but it may also seek to assert itself in the anti-ISIS fight in Afghanistan.

Obama Administration Backs Down in Battle With Silicon Valley Over Encryption

October 11, 2015

Obama Won’t Seek Access to Encrypted User Data
Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger
New York Times, October 11, 2015
CUPERTINO, Calif. —  The Obama administration has backed down in its bitter dispute with Silicon Valley over the encryption of data on iPhones and other digital devices, concluding that it is not possible to give American law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to that information without also creating an opening that China, Russia, cybercriminals and terrorists could exploit.
With its decision, which angered the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies, the administration essentially agreed with AppleGoogle, Microsoft and a group of the nation’s top cryptographers and computer scientists that millions of Americans would be vulnerable to hacking if technology firms and smartphone manufacturers were required to provide the government with “back doors,” or access to their source code and encryption keys.

That would enable the government to see messages, photographs and other data now routinely encrypted on smartphones. Current technology puts the keys for access to the information in the hands of the individual user, not the companies.

The first indication of the retreat came on Thursday, when the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the administration would not seek legislation to compel the companies to create such a portal.
But the decision, made at the White House a week ago, goes considerably beyond that.
While the administration said it would continue to try to persuade companies like Apple and Google to assist in criminal and national security investigations, it determined that the government should not force them to breach the security of their products. In essence, investigators will have to hope they find other ways to get what they need, from data stored in the cloud in unencrypted form or transmitted over phone lines, which are covered by a law that affects telecommunications providers but not the technology giants.

Russia's Syrian entanglement: Can the West sit back and watch?


Pavel K. Baev | October 9, 2015 

For observers who are confined by the boundaries of conventional strategic sense, every day of Russia’s military intervention in Syria brings fresh surprises. Indiscriminate strikes against Turkey-backed andCIA-trained opposition groups (which could not possibly be mistaken for ISIS) were followed by deliberate violations of Turkey’s airspace, and then by the spectacular cruise missile salvo from warships in the Caspian Sea. More astonishing turns are almost certain to come, prompting more reevaluation of the power projection capabilities that Russia brings to bear in this high-risk enterprise.
Good morning, Latakia

The intervention, which President Vladimir Putin preferred not to announce in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on September 26, could become an exemplar of achieving maximum political effect from very limited application of force. The three dozen or so combat planes deployed to the hastily prepared airbase outside Latakia perform 20 to 30 sorties a day. That would not have made much of a difference in the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS that has been going on for more than a year. What makes a difference is targeting opposition groups of various persuasions that were not anticipating such treatment. This tactical surprise is by definition short-term, and in order to continue making a difference—and for the campaign to really resonate—Russia needs to escalate. 

The intervention...could become an exemplar of achieving maximum political effect from very limited application of force.

Obama Puts the Asia Pivot on Pause


U.S.-China relations may be entering something of a holding pattern for the next two years.

October 12, 2015
The White House state dinner for Chinese president Xi Jinping on the evening of September 25 was a formal, uneventful affair. No major announcement of future collaboration, no great project between the world’s first and second largest economies, was expected, and none came. Given the calls from some quarters to cancel the dinner, avoiding a bad outcome is something of a diplomatic achievement in itself. Yet, neither that evening nor the two weeks since have done much to shed light on where the United States and China go from here.

Four years ago, uncertainty was much less of an issue. In October and November 2011, President Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, through an orchestrated series ofspeeches and essays, announced a U.S. pivot to Asia. In Canberra, President Obama stood before the Australian parliament and said, “After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region.”

Donilon was the most thoughtful and nuanced in his explanation of the plan. Favoring “rebalancing” over “pivot,” he later described the goals as “economic engagement” and “sustained attention to regional institutions and defense of international rules and norms.” However, these goals became muddled over time, and the pivot became more about whether or not the United States could shift attention from the Middle East to Asia at all, and less about anything it could achieve in Asia with that reoriented attention.

Crisis Over Ukraine Contingency Planning Memorandum Update

Author: Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

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PublisherCouncil on Foreign Relations Press

Release DateOctober 2015

In early 2014, Russia began supporting armed separatist forces in the eastern—predominantly Russian-speaking—part of Ukraine. Subsequent fighting was halted in September 2015 by a cease-fire agreement known as Minsk II. But, despite ongoing diplomatic efforts, few other aspects of the agreement have been implemented. Heavy fighting could resume and precipitate an even deeper crisis between Russia and the West. As a 2009 Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Contingency Planning Memorandum "Crisis Between Ukraine and Russia" argued, a major Ukraine-Russia confrontation has significant implications for the United States.
New Concerns

Aside from the recent cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, Russia has done little to implement the Minsk II provisions. As of September 2015, Russian military personnel and heavy weapons remain in the eastern Donbas region, while major questions persist about Russia’s support for other aspects of Minsk II. The likely prognosis is a frozen—or not-so-frozen—conflict, which will pose substantial risks for Europe and U.S. interests.

Moscow could choose to escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine by applying additional military pressure in an effort to further destabilize Kiev, force the West to relax its sanctions on Russia, and/or distract the Russian public from a deteriorating economic situation at home. Fighting in the Donbas could also be ignited by local separatist forces seeking to change the status quo.

The unsettled conflict makes it more difficult for Kiev to pursue reforms and turn around the faltering Ukrainian economy. Gross domestic product is expected to decline by more than 10 percent this year, and domestic politics have become more complicated as the public becomes increasingly frustrated with austerity measures and the slow fight against corruption. Meanwhile, right-wing political forces oppose Minsk II and a negotiated settlement. A new political crisis in Ukraine would hinder Kiev’s ability to pursue reform. It could also tempt Moscow to make further efforts to weaken Kiev’s position at a time when Ukrainian public opinion toward Russia has hardened and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is less free to maneuver. The crisis also continues to complicate U.S.-Russia relations, which are at their lowest point since the Cold War. Russian military activity near North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) borders has also markedly increased, raising the risk of a deadly accident or miscalculation.
Policy Implications

Private NSA Army is Attacking YOU!

Oct 11, 20
Oct 11, 2015 

In the first part of this article series, the post 9/11 rise of a private NSA was detailed. Some started in reaction to the twin tower attack. They aren’t connected with the government, intelligence, or homeland security. They are private citizens that have no security clearances in any western country.

They use the free OSINT software found on the internet to find or decide who is a terrorist. Many of them enjoy the feeling of power they from getting people fired from their jobs and put on terrorist investigation lists.
They are freelancers with no oversight or rules. They are only accountable to themselves and their employers. These freelancers thrive on their ability to remain hidden from the public eye. In reality, they could be your socially inept, angry neighbor down the street who is afraid of their own shadow in person. But give them a keyboard and they’ll take your job, your bank account and your freedom.
These freelancers have carved a niche for themselves at the bottom of the OSINT and hacking professions. Today these people who feel so insignificant in their own lives are the cyber warriors for hire by anyone who has an ax to grind and the means to pay them. 

They are Hate for Hire.

Freelance Cyber Soldiers
“Our view is that cyber is another operational domain, much as the seas are, much as the land is, much as space is.”Admiral Mike Rogers – Commander US Cyber Command, Director of the NSA, Chief of CSS

Cyber in this context goes way beyond hacker attacks aimed at taking down a website. It is meant to cause damage and even death as a military tool. Because this new frontier is so new, the laws governing “Cyber-war” have yet to drawn up. What has been done so far are a set of guidelines that define who and what can and can’t be targeted.


OCTOBER 12, 2015
Who killed American strategy? Discussion about American security and defense today often resembles TV shows likeCrime Scene Investigation and its numerous spinoffs. There’s a dead body, a list of suspects, and a convoluted plotline that somehow has to be resolved in one hour of screen time and commercial breaks. Like detectives on CSI, defense writers are at the scene of the proverbial crime, collecting evidence and speculating about the culprit. The dead body belongs to American strategy, horrifically murdered by an unknown assailant. Who — or what — is responsible?
The shocking twist on tonight’s episode of CSI: Pentagon is that we — the defense analytical community — killed American strategy. While American strategy certainly lived a troubled life and the list of “usual suspects” is fairly long, it was nonetheless a victim of our own unrealistic expectations and inability to deal with the messy reality of what strategy is and what it can do. Whoever killed strategy, our inability to make choices and recognize tradeoffs surely made us an accessory to the crime. And unless we come to grips with the inherent flaws, difficulties, and problems of making strategy, the killer in this crime — our adherence to a romantic, unrealistic, and empirically dubious view of strategy — will surely claim more victims.

American strategy’s troubled life

TV crime procedurals often begin with the premise that the victim had a perfect life, only to reveal later on that the victim is hiding sordid secrets that figure into the circumstances leading up to the murder. For example, the victim had a drug addiction or was behind on paying a debt to a local mobster. Sometimes the victim led a double life; countless murder mysteries often reveal that the victim was cheating on his wife and thus was being blackmailed by a prostitute or mistress. Of course, these failings and imperfections do not necessarily explain who killed the victim, but they often yield valuable clues.
Certainly American strategy had no shortage of admirers. Every government agency in DC and public policy think tank attaches the word “strategy” or “strategic” to what it does, and countless op-eds are penned saying that we need strategy. There are numerous civilian and military educational institutions where it is taught or referenced as a core subject. American strategy’s respectability and accomplishments, however, was an elaborate façade that concealed serious underlying problems.

Even its friends were unaware of its history of failures, such as its haphazard management of low-intensity conflictsand frequently flawed attempts to measure its adversaries’ military capabilities. A psychologist examining the victim also noted that the victim suffered from a number of psychological problems and issues, such as a tendency to mirror-image its opponents and commit to losing battles out of an emotional concern for its reputation and the blood and treasure it had already committed to the fight. Others familiar with the victim’s life observed that American strategy had an unhealthy obsession with technology and a tendency to conflate technology with the political aims that ought to have guided its use. Finally, American strategy has always been indifferent to the local politics and institutions of the foreigners that it interacts with, despite the critical nature of such forces for success and failure in its wars.
But this only scratches the surface of the problems that plagued American strategy during its tragic life. Understanding American strategy isn’t just a matter of understanding the military and its tactics and techniques. To truly understand American strategy one also needs to understand the political elites who helped make it and their incentives, tendencies, and motivations. This shady crowd was motivated largely by their own self-interest, and hadalways been in some shape or form. Why did American strategy associate with such a dangerous and unreliable crowd? Couldn’t it just put politics aside and focus on achieving the national interest? Unfortunately, one cannot have strategy without politics.

ISIL death toll at 20,000, but 'stalemate' continues


WASHINGTON — The U.S.-led bombing campaign has killed an estimated 20,000 Islamic State fighters, an increase from the 15,000 the Pentagon reported in July, according to a senior military officer.

Airstrikes from the American-led campaign, which began in August 2014, have rattled the militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, said the official and another Pentagon official familiar with intelligence. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The second official said intercepted communications show ISIL militants to be fearful of the allied air attacks, which have forced them to change their tactics.

But despite the higher number of casualties and the airstrikes' erosion of morale among ISIL fighters, the militant group continues to draw new fighters to Iraq and Syria. The overall force, the first official said, remains about where it was when the bombing started: 20,000 to 30,000 fighters.

The estimate of 20,000 dead Islamic State fighters seems accurate, said Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution. The overwhelming percentage of the dead are likely Islamic State militants, not civilians, he said.

Why is government forcing LCA down Indian Air Force's throat?

The IAF has itself to blame for its predicament.



The government's decision to insist that the Indian Air Force induct a large number of light combat aircraft (LCA) fighters is the kind of shock treatment that was needed to push the Make in India project. A news report says that the government has rejected the IAF's demand for 44 more Rafale aircraft, in addition to the deal for 36 announced by the government earlier this year.

Instead, the IAF has been told that the kind of numbers it wanted could only be met by inducting the LCA.

The IAF has itself to blame for its predicament. The medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) was originally intended to be a stop-gap measure to enable the LCA project to be completed. However, the IAF rigged the competition by including the heavier, more capable two-engine fighters and knocking out the best option, the Swedish Gripen. As a result, a competition for a $8 billion stop-gap fighter morphed into a huge buy involving 126 Rafales which would have cost the nation anywhere between $25-30 billion.


Critics cite a CAG report of May 2015 claiming that the aircraft had 53 shortcomings in respect of the IAF's requirements such as an integral self-protection jammer and a radar warning receiver. They also noted that the aircraft weighed more than it should and had a lower internal fuel capacity.

The Paradox of Power in the Network Age Who, exactly, will claim the virtual high ground?


The Paradox of Power in the Network Age
Who, exactly, will claim the virtual high ground?
There’s a whole lotta technophilia going on.

The wave upon wave of digital disruptions buffeting and inalterably changing global society — we have been told by a chorus of Silicon Valley CEOs, hyperventilating best-selling authors, and digital fan-boys and -girls — will be democratizing, will undercut the brutes who traditionally have wielded and abused power, will lift up the masses. This power of connection, so it goes, will transform such masses, educate them, and elevate us all above the boundaries and barriers that have separated us throughout history. Consequently, they say, we will find ourselves in a future in which we will work less and laugh more.

It’s a great era in which to be alive.

But as any student of even the very best chapters of human history might expect, with progress come new, sometimes greater challenges. That is, having all the world’s people linked to the Net can empower and educate them, but it can also expose them to new threats and potentially open the door to new kinds of exploitation and domination.

Acceleration plus amplification produces volatility. Connection breaks down barriers and brings us closer, but it also creates new vulnerabilities. Redistribution plus decentralization of power can produce the Islamic State, the world’s first open-architecture terrorist group; it has recognized that the most effective force multiplier is using modern communications techniques to let anyone join, harnessing the power of the alienation of thousands by co-branding it with a single perverse and evil message. It is a leap forward from the ways of hierarchical, closed, club-like terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda or the FARC. But it is hardly the kind of progress we wanted to be making.

5 Billion-Dollar Defense Companies That Dominate The Industry


on October 13, 2015

Here’s a rundown of the top five defense industry giants.

A number of defense contractors continue to decry the budget cuts enacted in 2011, citing the need to modernize capabilities to stay ahead.
There is clearly a recognition by the lawmakers that I speak to that we have so many global security challenges and needs to modernize our defense capabilities that we need to increase spending above the budget caps,” Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president, and CEO, Marillyn Hewson, recently told Defense News.

Still, companies like Lockheed Martin have managed to generate billions of dollars from its work with the defense sector. In fact, Lockheed Martin and 99 other companies were chosen by Defense News in its annual Top 100 Report for the ability to generate massive profits from their U.S. defense programs. The top five alone brought in more than $215 billion total revenue in 2014, which affords them a great deal of influence in Washington, D.C. Here’s a breakdown of the five defense contractors with the biggest Department of Defense-fueled revenues of 2014.
Lockheed Martin

An F-35B Lightning II from the Pax River Integrated Test Force conducts weapons environmental testing along the Atlantic Test Range on July 22, 2015.
CEO: Marillyn Hewson, since 2013
Headquarters: Bethesda, Maryland
2014 Defense Revenue: $40 billion

Lockheed Martin launched in 1995 with the merger of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta. Both companies are offshoots of early aerospace manufacturing companies that began building planes in 1912. The Lockheed Propulsion Company designed and built the solid propellant launch escape motor and the pitch control motor for the Apollo spacecraft that put the first man on the moon.

Notable Contracts

F-35 Lightning II Program: Known as the joint strike fighter, the F-35 is the Defense Department’s solution in next-generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, and Marines. The $1.3 trillion contract will produce aircraft for each of these services by 2037. Though it has been constantly in flux, the cost per unit estimated now to be roughly $337 million per plane, according to a report by Winslow Wheeler, a longtime program analyst with the Project On Government Oversight. BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman are also involved in the delivery of the aircraft. The F-35 will be delivered to 11 other countries, including Britain, Australia, Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Canada.