3 January 2016

Accidental explosion kills Lt. Colonel, toll rises to seven

January 3, 2016, Dinakar Peri
PTI Army personnel during their operation against the militants near the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Saturday evening.

PTI Security personnel guard near the Indian Air Force base that was attacked by the militants in Pathankot on Saturday.
"Additional casualties are because three DSC personnel passed away in the hospital during the night," officials said.
A senior officer of the National Security Guard (NSG) was killed in an accidental explosion during combing operations at Pathankot air base on Sunday pushing the number of casualties among security forces to seven. The officer has been identified as Lt Col Niranjan.
Defence ministry officials said that it was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which went off during combing operations in the morning which killed Lt Col Niranjan and likely injuring few others.
In addition to ending confusion on the casualties among security forces in the Pathankot attack, defence ministry officials confirmed that six soldiers had lost their lives.

The six include one Garud commando and five soldiers from the Defence Security Corps (DSC) while one Garud commando and eight DSC personnel were injured.
“Additional casualties are because three DSC personnel passed away in the hospital during the night,” officials said.

As operations were underway on Saturday, one Garud and two DSC personnel were killed but confusion prevailed with reports of higher casualty rate among the security forces. Still the death toll is unusually high given that there was prior intelligence of an attack and forces were on high alert.

Russia and the TAPI Pipeline

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 227
December 18, 2015 , By: Stephen Blank
On December 13, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India broke ground on the constructions of a new natural gas pipeline that will carry Turkmenistani gas eastward toward the other three partner countries (Tribuneindia.com, Tribune.com.pk, December 13; Timesca.com, December 14). The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) pipeline project, in one form or another, has been on the books for twenty years, going back to an abortive effort by the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) and the Taliban in 1995 to formulate it. Given its location and ability to alleviate many critical economic and energy problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, the TAPI pipeline has been the subject of enormous geopolitical rivalry and maneuvering throughout this period (see EDM, December 14, 2010; February 16, 2011).

Inasmuch as this pipeline has received steady political support from the United State because it would enable Turkmenistan to find another alternative to dependence on Russia for exporting its gas, Russia has been very skeptical about the project (“Central Asia, Afghanistan and the New Silk Road Conference Report,” The Jamestown Foundation, November 14, 2011). Yet, in mid-2010, Moscow cautiously came around to ostensibly support as well as promise to cooperate with the founding members on the TAPI project (Central Asia Newswire, October 25). But even then its offer was insufficient. Although Moscow apparently put forward four different possible frameworks for its participation, Ashgabat refused them all (Eurodialogue.eu, November 17, 2010). As a result, Russia is now promoting various alternatives to the TAPI pipeline. These new proposals are clearly aligned with recent developments in Russian foreign policy, specifically efforts to retain India’s friendship and support while increasingly reaching out to Pakistan. In particular, Moscow is offering the two traditional main weapons of its foreign policy—i.e., energy and arms sales.

Consequently, in September 2015, Russia proposed building a South–North natural gas pipeline in Pakistan. This Russian pipeline would extend almost 1,100 kilometers, from the port of Karachi northward to Lahore, and carry Iranian gas shipped to Pakistan across the Arabian Sea via liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers. The entire scheme would reportedly be based on swaps between Iran and Russia for the original gas (Peq.com.pk, December 2; Russia-insider.com, September 9). As such, however, this project directly contradicts the entire logic of the TAPI pipeline as well as the US strategic objective of blocking both Iran and Russia from dominating energy flows to South Asia. At the same time, Moscow is discussing with New Delhi the possibility of exporting 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year of gas to India through Iran by means of a swap or, alternatively, by transporting it via the TAPI pipeline (Russia Beyond the Headlines, December 4).
Image Credit: Flickr/Narendra Modi
After Modi's Visit to Pakistan: Beyond Hugs and Handshakes
A reality check following the Indian premier’s surprise visit.
By Toquir Hussain and Ishrat Saleem
January 01, 2016
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised everyone by paying a short visit to his Pakistani counterpart on his birthday on December 25. This was the first visit of an Indian premier to Pakistan in 12 years and has raised high hopes for peace on both sides.

But lest we get carried away, let’s do a reality check.
The optics of the two prime ministers warmly hugging each other and later holding hands at the airport ceremonies created an extraordinary feel-good moment, but will this warmth be enough to thaw the ties frozen in time? Due to centuries of shared history, Indians and Pakistanis have always felt some affinity in manners and social protocol. So when they meet, leaders and ordinary people alike, there is enough willing suspension of disbelief to set aside for a fleeting moment what divides them and let the feelings of closeness take over. But this tenuous cultural identity has never been enough to override their differences as nations. For that you need much more than emotion of the moment.

If history is any guide, similar feelings were created when former Indian prime pinister Atal Bihari Vajpayeevisited Lahore on Dosti Bus in 1999, Pakistan’s General Musharraf visited Agra in 2001 or Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Delhi in 2014 to attend the swearing in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the initial excitement proved so effervescent as entrenched strategic positions soon reared their heads once the dialogue started in earnest.

It has already happened with Prime Minister Modi once. After generating hopes for peace with the invitation to his swearing in Modi turned unexpectedly to a hard line approach towards Pakistan not missing any opportunity to claim that Pakistan promoted terrorism and was a nuisance for India. Tensions along the Line of Control and Working Boundary in the disputed territory of Kashmir went up even further.

Pakistan responded to India’s hard line by upping the ante. It availed of every opportunity to highlight Kashmir and claimed to have credible evidence that India was involved in terrorist activities on its soil and let it know it had developed tactical nuclear weapons to counter any Indian attack. During their respective visits to Washington earlier this year, both Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif expressed their concern about India’s aggressive posturing and Pakistan’s inability to devote full attention to Afghanistan’s stability in the face of this threat.

Washington had to do something as it felt that India-Pakistan tensions were giving Pakistan an alibi not be fully cooperative in the Afghanistan war. So Washington certainly played a role in getting the India-Pakistan dialogue started. But that was not the only stimulus. Modi’s image in the United States, about which he is so concerned, was being tarnished by the growing incidence of intolerance in India attributed to the rise of Hindu nationalism. And in the light of his silence over this, his own intransigence was beginning to look like hostility towards Pakistan. So he had to change his stance. This was good diplomacy. Now that the dialogue will resume, he may have a chance to shift the blame for any lack of progress on Pakistan’s hard line.

But the question still remains: what will come of the talks? The two countries have conflicting expectations of each other and different priorities. Pakistan has long argued that the Kashmir dispute be resolved first, or at least in conjunction with other areas of mutual concern. Regardless of who is in power, India has been and will remain unwilling to offer to Pakistan any concessions on Kashmir, even if it means foregoing the economic dividends of trade with Pakistan and transit trade through Pakistan to Afghanistan and Central Asia. India instead has remained focused on terrorism, especially since 2008 Mumbai attack which it blamed on Pakistan-based banned outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But Pakistan is unwilling to do anything more than it has already done to allay Indian concerns about terrorism by non-state actors. Pakistan has undertaken security operations against terrorists of all hues under the National Action Plan (NAP) which was devised after the terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, which killed 150 including more than 120 children. Although much more work still needs to be done to curb terrorist financing, registration of seminaries and overhauling of school curricula, progress on NAP indicates a serious commitment to tackle a threat that has harmed Pakistan more than anyone else. But Pakistan lacks the political will and the capacity to go after its erstwhile surrogates like LeT. The backlash will be too risky. In addition, Islamabad has its own concerns about India stoking instability within Pakistan and would like to treat this subject in a linked manner in dialogue with India.

Has the Pakistani military been on board so far with this bear hug diplomacy? Of course. The military is not opposed to talks. But that is not the end of the story. Their role really comes into play when the talks get underway. That is when they will show their hand. This then raises the question if Nawaz Sharif is in a position to give concessions to Modi. He could not give them to President Ghani of Afghanistan. In case of Ghani, of course, the problem is more complicated. There is no unified position within the unity government in Kabul. So both were not good interlocutors for each other. Can Modi and Nawaz Sharif be good interlocutors? We will have to see. Familiar obstacles to progress remain.

Yet something is indeed different this time: China. Would the massive Chinese investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, linking Pakistan’s Gwader Port to China’s Xinjiang province make China a stake holder in India Pakistan peace? The corridor is part of the larger Chinese plans to stabilize the region on its periphery and to this end is expected to open avenues of regional trade. But can it realize its potential without peace in the region? And will the United States for its own reasons continues to nudge Pakistan and India towards peace, for the sake of Afghanistan’s success if nothing else? Maybe this is what Ghani told Modi when he visited him before coming to Lahore. And this is what the businessmen friends of the two Prime Ministers who are eying the economic prospects in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan are telling them.

In the ultimate analysis, much would depend on whether the two leaders will be able to show not only bold and imaginative leadership but also policies that change destinies of their peoples. Anything less will be the continuation of the same old story.

Drama is good to set the stage for talks. But however exciting and auspicious this start is, this is no indication of how it will all end. This is very much just another in a series of beginnings for India and Pakistan, though as far as beginnings go, it was a good one.

Touqir Hussain, a former Ambassador and Diplomatic Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, is Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and SAIS Johns Hopkins University, where he is also Senior Pakistan Visiting Fellow. Ishrat Saleem is a journalist based in Islamabad.

Endangering the Russia connection

Posted on December 23, 2015 by Bharat Karnad

On the eve of his trip to Moscow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did well to remind the country that in time of desperate need Russia helped with military hardware and technical assistance in strategic programmes when no other country would. Gratitude, perhaps, counts for little in international affairs. But correct geostrategics is critical — something the Indian Foreign Office and, increasingly, the NSA Ajit Doval, handling foreign policy, seem often to forget.

A basic geostrategic constant is the fact that while the US, Russia and China are big and powerful powers, China is the obvious security and economic challenge to India, and in dealing with it, it is the continentally proximal Russia, with the ready ability to play off China and Pakistan against India, that matters more than the distantly seaward America. Russia’s record of assistance in sensitive strategic technology projects, moreover, remains unmatched by any power. Because the military supply relationship has been central to bilateral reflations, these policy fundamentals require iteration considering the tendency of the Modi regime is to take Moscow for granted and benefit Western defence companies at the expense of their Russian counterparts in the dog-eat-dog world of capital military sales — this even though economics dictate, as in the case of the Su-30MKI, that it is a far better option every which way and even in performance terms than the Rafale the PM unwisely and ill-advisedly committed to — by way of a personal initiative — on his trip to Paris earlier in the year, thereby majorly screwing up the laid down the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft shortlisting and selection process geared by the IAF from the start to favour some Western aircraft or the other. But that’s a different story!

The above is by way of prelude — to set the context, as it were — for mistakes Modi may make in his Kremlin meeting with President Vladimir Putin, and what he expects to gain from it. The fact is, on the international scene, India is seen as a sort of rich yokel, a perennially dim-witted fool, who can be easily taken to the cleaners — divested of his monies with jingly-jangly, prohibitively expensive, armaments whose acquisitions make little sense. To wit, the Rafale! So, everybody pitches this and sells that as the answer to India’s security problems, with the government and the PM’s Office in particular — bereft of dispassionate outside experts without vested service and other interests on its staff and a knowledge base of its own and, hence, minus any deep understanding about geostrategics or about the genuine security-defence needs, relying on the armed services whose proven myopia is now creeping into the realm of the legendary. It is another matter that the Indian taxpayer ends up paying for their acquisition follies even as the country gains zilch in terms of its strategic military standing and capabilities.

Do not label foreign-made military hardware as ‘indigenous’

Posted on December 24, 2015 by Bharat Karnad
The country is coming to terms with the gradualist Prime Minister Narendra ‘Change does not happen all of a sudden’ Modi, who is relying on the existing decrepit apparatus of State, unimaginative policy establishment, and the government’s usual lackadaisical way of doing business to deliver results.
Even Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ programme is being driven into the ground by the old approach in the defence sphere of licence-manufacture now garbed in different rhetoric. Thus, in a ‘Navy Day’ newspaper supplement featuring a piece titled ‘Indigenisation of P75 is a good example of ‘Make in India’’, Bernard Buisson, managing director of the French government-backed private sector naval defence major DCNS (Direction des Constructions Navales), clarifies that by “indigenous” he means that local companies will do what defence public sector units (DPSUs) have been doing for the last 60 years — importing various components and ‘screwdrivering’ them together as per supplied blueprints.

If the French or any other foreign firm wins the contract, the resulting P-75i submarine will be about as ‘indigenous’ as the DCNS Scorpene boat currently produced by the Mazagon Dockyard, the slew of combat aircraft (British Jaguar and Hawk, Russian MiG-21, MiG-27, and Su-30MKI) assembled by Hindustan Aerospace Ltd, the Swedish Bofors gun outputted by the ordnance factories or the Russian T-72 tank by the Avadi Heavy Vehicle factory. Without the home-based design engineering element, foreign developed military hardware mislabelled ‘indigenous’ will continue to keep India a captive of foreign vendors, and the Indian government will be played for a fool it unfortunately has shown itself to be in these matters, even as the prospect of a truly indigenous, comprehensively capable, Indian defence industry keeps receding.

These conclusions are reached on the basis of recent developments. There is the Dhirendra Singh Committee report on reforming the defence procurement procedure. It has brazenly recommended cutting the political executive out of all procurement decisions and making the armed services solely responsible for them. This will ensure the Indian military remains industrial age, sub-strategic, cued to the wrong threat (Pakistan), and incapable of transforming itself in line with new technologies. Next, the defence ministry taskforce chaired by former DRDO chief VK Atre, asked to come up with an alternative to the disastrous ‘lowest tender’ system, has managed to at once subvert the government’s intention and retain for the DRDO-DPSU combine its primacy by keeping many private sector companies from competing for armament-development contracts with onerous entry-level financial conditions. And belatedly, the government has discovered ‘military diplomacy’. It has formed a committee led by deputy national security adviser Arvind Gupta to suggest ways to extract advanced technology from reluctant vendor states by using, as I have long advocated, our expensive armament buys as leverage, and mobilising Indian embassies to push exports of Indian-made arms to developing countries.

India lacks guts on Brahmos to Vietnam

Posted on December 31, 2015 by Bharat Karnad

Since around early 2000s I have been advocating the sale of nuclear-warheaded Brahmos supersonic anti-ship missile to Vietnam as a payback to China for its nuclear missile-arming Pakistan. The strategic need for this was detailed in my 2002 book ‘Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security’ (Macmillan, a 2nd edition published in 2005) and again in my 2008 book ‘Índia’s Nuclear Policy'(Praeger, 2008)

The strategically-challenged Indian govts of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress Party’s Manmohan Singh sat on it making some excuse or the other. In 2011, when the Vietnamese govt first formally sought this missile from Delhi PM Manmohan Singh, more concerned with China’s adverse reaction than India’s national interest, raised the issue of Russian apprehension of such sale to stymie the request. Except some four years later, the Russian resistance to such sale magically disappeared — because there wasn’t any such barrier in the first place. In May 2015, Indian Defmin Manohar Parrikar signed an agreement with his visiting Vietnamese counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh that talked of maritime security cooperation without mentioning the fact that the BJP govt of Narendra Modi had finally acceded to Hanoi’s request for the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile.

Seven months later no Brahmos missile is in Vietnamese hands, and no Indian military technical team has visited Hanoi to firm up the means of transfer and to set up the infrastructure for the coast-based Brahmos batteries. The Modi dispensation is proving as strategically dense as its predecessor, delaying the sale and offering India’s non-membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as excuse for non-implementation of the Brahmos understanding. Delhi’s keen-ness about joining MTCR and thereby restricting its options to transferring longer-range Agni and other missiles to countries on China’s periphery in need of deterring China, cannot be explained except in terms of the traditional strategic spinelessness and myopia — a terminal affliction.

This year, don’t speed dial the Army

The Hindu‘FIRST IN, LAST OUT’: “What, in principle, was laid down as a ‘last in, first out’ policy has been turned on its head.” Picture shows army personnel on a rescue operation in Chennai. 
In the 2013 Uttarakhand deluge, when the Army was single-handedly tackling relief work, someone on Facebook said he was irritated by the constant praise being heaped on the Army’s heroic efforts. Enough, he said, the Army is just doing a job it is supposed to do.

And that is exactly what most people assume — that it’s a first-line duty of the armed forces to swim into any disaster and rescue everybody. Whether it was Uttarakhand, the fire in Kolkata’s Burrabazar, or the Chennai floods, each time it’s been the armed forces that have stepped in. Whether an explosion in a bazaar or a child falling into a well, the armed forces are called in.

What, in principle, was laid down as a “last in, first out” policy has been turned on its head. Instead, the forces are the first to be called in and they are the last to leave, reinforcing the impression that they are only “doing their duty”.
The reality is rather different. Not only does the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 not indicate any primacy for the role of the armed forces, it does not even formalise their role; merely stating that the management of disasters could include the “deployment of naval, military and air forces, other armed forces of the Union or any other civilian personnel as may be required for the purposes of this Act”.

The diplomacy of business

January 1, 2016 02:29 
The brouhaha over a news report that Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal may have acted as an intermediary between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, in the context of Mr. Modi’s visit to Pakistan on December 25, took an amusing turn with a Congress Party spokesperson, who ought to have known better as a former Union Minister handling commerce, industry and even external affairs, claiming that the Prime Minister seemed to value business interest above national interest. Quite apart from the question whether domestic business interests ought not to be regarded as national interest by the government — more on that later — the spuriousness of this protest derives from the fact that there is nothing new in business leaders acting as intermediaries between heads of government.Businessmen as intermediaries

The link between the business of diplomacy and the diplomacy of business is as old as the link between trade and flag. More recent diplomatic history is replete with examples of businessmen building bridges between leaders of adversarial nations. Be it David Rockefeller carrying messages between the U.S. government and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, or German and Russian businessmen trying to narrow differences between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, business has helped oil the wheels of diplomacy, just as diplomacy seeks to oil those of commerce.

To be sure, individual business interest is not always the only motive for business involvement in diplomacy. Such informal outreach has value for politicians in power because of its deniability. Businessmen know how to keep secrets and so are often better non-official interlocutors than other professionals. Which is one reason why the most effective way in which business can promote diplomacy would be when it is below the radar. Indeed, Mr. Jindal may have erred by tweeting his participation in the Sharif family wedding celebrations weeks after an Indian journalist, Barkha Dutt, wrote about his alleged role in setting up an earlier meeting between the South Asian leaders. Discretion ought to have been the better part of valour.

** Nepal’s democracy on the brink

Posted on December 28, 2015
The crisis of democracy in communist-led Nepal raises a fundamental question: Can a democratic transition succeed where communists dominate?
Brahma Chellaney, Nikkei Asian Review

Landlocked Nepal has lurched from one crisis to the next for a quarter-century. Now the country is on the edge of toppling into dysfunction. The turmoil also carries major implications for India, with which Kathmandu has traditionally maintained an open border.
Nepal has been in a state of severe political flux since 1990, when it embarked on a democratic transition. But recent developments in the country — which lies between India and the Chinese region of Tibet — are a reminder that democracy means more than just holding elections. In Nepal, an absence of sound institutions has been compounded by constitution-making without political consensus or proper attention to the interests of minority groups.

This constitutional mess is at the root of violent protests and political upheaval that are accelerating spiraling prices for essential items in the impoverished Himalayan country. In the latest crisis ethnic groups have been polarized by a new constitution and a blockade of the border with India is preventing imports of essential goods, including fuel and medicines. The political and economic turmoil comes on top of last April’s devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks — the country’s worst natural disaster in more than eight decades.
Nepal adopted a new constitution in September, a whole generation after its democratic transition began with the introduction of a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy in 1990. That experiment opened the door to a bloody Maoist insurrection that ended only when a peace accord in 2006 paved the way for the insurgent leaders to come to power.

The current constitution emerged from a tortuous eight-year constitutional drafting process that involved two elected constituent assemblies. The first abolished the monarchy in 2008, but became gridlocked by political infighting and missed a mid-2012 deadline set by the country’s Supreme Court. The second assembly, elected in 2013, drafted the constitution and, when it came into effect, was transformed into a legislative parliament.
A constitution must represent all the country’s citizens — the U.S. constitution, for example, begins with the words “We the people.” But multiethnic Nepal’s latest constitution reflects the will of the hill elites that have long dominated its power structures, discriminating against the people who inhabit the country’s southern plains along the 1,872km border with India — an area known as the Terai. Further complicating the issue, the Madhesi ethnic group that dominates the plains has historical, cultural and family links with India.

The Sikkim Anniversary Forty years after joining India, Sikkim continues to trouble Sino-Indian relations.

By Ivan Lidarev, December 31, 2015
As 2015 draws to a close, it is worth remembering that it marks a forgotten but important anniversary in the history of India and Sino-Indian relations. Forty years ago, in 1975, the princely state of Sikkim became part of India, following a long political game that saw Beijing try to lure the Chogyal, Sikkim’s king, away from New Delhi’s tight embrace. While India won out in 1975, the Sikkim issue has continued to trouble China-India relations to this day. China has not unequivocally accepted Sikkim as part of India, the Sikkim border between the two Himalayan giants remains a source of tensions, and both sides have interests in Sikkim which are often at odds.

Historically Sikkim – “new palace” in the Limbu language – was a small and pristine Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas with close religious and cultural ties to Tibet. At different points in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the kingdom had lived under Chinese suzerainty and, later, as a British protectorate, but had mostly managed to preserve its domestic autonomy. India’s independence in 1947 and Tibet’s incorporation into the newly founded People’s Republic of China fundamentally changed the geopolitical situation of Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital, as it emerged as a buffer between its two giant neighbors. Concerned that China might expand its influence in Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan, and even threaten India’s disputed northern borders, New Delhi pressured the three Himalayan states to establish special relations with India. Hence, in 1950, Sikkim signed atreaty with India which established the kingdom as an Indian protectorate, handed over all of Sikkim’s external relations to India, allowed the stationing of Indian troops and prohibited the kingdom from “dealings with any foreign power.”

In the 1960s, however, Sikkim reemerged as a major concern for New Delhi in the aftermath of India’s disastrous 1962 border war with China and the enthronement of a new Chogyal, Palden Thondup Namgyal, who sought full sovereignty for his Himalayan kingdom. The 1962 war, which saw action close to Sikkim, and the 1967 clashes between Chinese and Indian forces on the kingdom’s northern border, at Nathu La and Chola, underscored Sikkim’s strategic importance as a key military point on the disputed border. The Chogyal’s push to sovereignty, probably influenced by his American wife, inevitably led him to seek relations with China to balance India, an interest reciprocated by Beijing which hoped to lure Sikkim into its sphere of influence. Soon after the king’s accession in 1964, Beijing officially sent condolences for his father’s passing and the two sides cautiously came into contact on several occasions in the next decade, including, famously, on one of theChogyal’s trips to Britain during which he met Chinese officials at a Chinese restaurant in an outright break with the 1950 treaty. As New Delhi was growing alarmed by the prospect of Chinese influence in Sikkim, the kingdom was increasingly being shaken by the struggle between the autocratic Chogyal and Sikkim’s democratic opposition which, cautiously backed by India, sought to curtain his power. This struggle came to a head in 1973, when law and order in Sikkim broke down and India moved its forces in to stabilize the kingdom and eventually mediate a compromise between the king and the opposition. Soon afterward, over Beijing’s ferocious protests, Sikkim’s new democratic assembly agreed with New Delhi’s proposal to make the kingdom an “associate state” of India. In 1975, probably provoked by the Chogyal’s desperate attempt to get Chinese and Pakistani help against India during a trip to Nepal, Indira Gandhi’s government pushed for a referendum which democratically approved the abolition of the monarchy and a full merger with India, after an amendment to India’s constitution. In spite of China’s indignation, Sikkim became a state of the Republic of India.

Confirmed: China Is Building a Second Aircraft Carrier


The carrier will be China’s second, but the first to be indigenously-built.
By Shannon Tiezzi, January 01, 2016

A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that China is currently building an aircraft carrier in Dalian, a port city in northeastern China. The carrier will be China’s second, but the first to be indigenously-built. China’s current aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was Russian-made and purchased from Ukraine. The Liaoning was totally refitted by Beijing and commissioned in 2012. 

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of China’s second aircraft carrier, but it’s the first time the Defense Ministry has official confirmed the project. Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun told the press that “relevant authority started the research and development of China’s second aircraft carrier, which is currently under independent design and construction.” He emphasized that the new carrier is home-grown — “designed independently by China.”

Earlier this fall, IHS Jane’s 360 carried photographs that appeared to show the carrier under construction at the Dalian shipyard. Back in March, Chinese media ran quotes from Chinese admirals about the new aircraft carrier– including news on the development of an electromagnetic launch system.
According to Yang, however, fighter jets on the new carrier will use a ski-jump to take off. The carrier will serve as a base for J-15 fighters (already in use on the Liaoning), Yang said, as well as “other ship-based aircraft” (likely to eventually include the J-31, a fifth-generation fighter currently under development). Yang added that the new carrier “will have new improvements in many aspects” compared to the Liaoning, but did not elaborate.

Yang said the new carrier will have a displacement of 50,000 tonnes, around the size of the Liaoning (and much smaller than U.S. Nimitz-class carriers, which displace over 100,000 tonnes). The size fits with previous estimates made by IHS Jane’s based on satellite imagery of the presumed carrier under construction at Dalian. The new carrier will be conventionally powered rather than nuclear powered, according to Yang. He declined to give an estimated timetable for the completion.

China’s current carrier, the Liaoning, is widely believed to be mainly for training purposes, allowing the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to learn the ropes of operating an aircraft carrier. The second carrier is expected to go a step beyond that – taking the training wheels off, so to speak, and expanding the scope of possible missions.

According to Kanwa Defense Review, there’s a good chance that the next carrier will be based at a new facilityon Hainan Island, near the South China Sea, rather than at Dalian. Ultimately, Chinese military sources have suggested the country should have at least three aircraft carriers active in its navy.

As Andrew Scobell, Michael McMahon, and Cortez A. Cooper noted in an essay for the Naval War College Review, China’s own advances in missile technology – so-called “carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missiles — have caused some to declare the aircraft carrier obsolete. Yet Beijing is still investing massive amounts of time and capital to develop carrier capabilities for itself. That’s partially due to nationalism, as aircraft carriers are viewed as a global status symbol on par with nuclear weapons and space exploration capabilities. But the “decisive driver” of the program, according to Scobell et al, is Beijing’s strategic vision of a blue-water navy that can operate far beyond the first and second island chains.

Indeed, in its recent white paper detailing “China’s Military Strategy,” Beijing emphasized a global mission for its military, where “the armed forces will actively participate in both regional and international security cooperation and effectively secure China’s overseas interests.” For the PLAN in particular, that means a changing role, from a focus on defending the near seas to developing the ability to “protect the security of strategic SLOCs [sea lines of communication] and overseas interests, and participate in international maritime cooperation.” As a power projection tool, China’s second aircraft carrier will play a key role in those new missions.

Unaccountable China

Posted on December 19, 2015
A column internationally syndicated by Project Syndicate.
HO CHI MINH CITY – Since late 2013, China has been engaged in the frenzied creation of artificial islands and the militarization of the South China Sea. This amounts to an alarming quest for control over a strategically crucial corridor through which $5.3 trillion in trade flows each year. But what is even more shocking – not to mention dangerous – is that China has incurred no international costs for its behavior.

Of course, the international community has a lot on its plate nowadays, not least a massive refugee crisis fueled by chaos in the Middle East. But the reality is that, as long as China feels free to maneuver without consequence, it will continue to do so, fueling tensions with its neighbors that could easily turn into all-out conflict, derailing Asia’s rise.
A key component of China’s strategy in the South China Sea is the dredging of low-tide elevations to make small islands, including in areas that, as China’s deputy foreign minister for Asian affairs, Liu Zhenmin, recently acknowledged, “are far from the Chinese mainland.” In China’s view, that distance makes it “necessary” to build “military facilities” on the islands. And, indeed, three of the seven newly constructed islets include airfields, from which Chinese warplanes could challenge the US Navy’s ability to operate unhindered in the region.

By militarizing the South China Sea, China is seeking to establish a de facto Air Defense Identification Zone like the one that it formally – and unilaterally – declared in 2013 in the East China Sea, where it claims islands that it does not control. China knows that, under international law, its claim to sovereignty over virtually all of the resource-endowed South China Sea, based on an “historic right,” is weak; that is why it has opposed international adjudication. Instead, it is trying to secure “effective control” – which, under international law, enhances significantly the legitimacy of a country’s territorial claim – just as it has done in the Himalayas and elsewhere.

But China’s ambitions extend beyond the South China Sea: It aims to create a strongly Sino-centric Asia. Thus, the country recently established its first overseas military base – a naval hub in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa – and it has repeatedly sent submarines into the Indian Ocean. Moreover, China is engaging in far-reaching economic projects – such as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which entails the construction of infrastructure linking Asia to Europe – that will strengthen its presence in, and influence over, a number of countries, thereby recasting regional geopolitics in its image.

China’s armed drones appear built from stolen data from US cyber intrusions

By Bill Gertz on December 29, 2015 i
China’s vibrant military blogosphere presented a video this month revealing a missile-firing unmanned aerial vehicle in action, dropping bombs against ground targets.
The Caihong-4, or CH-4, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a testament to the remarkable success of China’s military in copying vital high-technology weapons that currently are considered among the most cutting edge arms systems used in modern combat operations for both ground strikes and intelligence-gathering.

The one-minute, 37-second online posting shows takeoffs and landings of the drone. It was uploaded to the video-sharing website Youku Dec. 17. According to the blogger who posted it, the video was produced by 11th Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, a drone developer and manufacturer.
The drone is shown launching two different types of bombs and the impact of their explosions on the ground. One is labeled a 50 kilogram, satellite-guided bomb and the second is an unguided CS/BBE2 50 kilogram aerial fragmentation bomb.
Photo analysis of the CH-4 shows the remote-controlled aircraft is very similar to the US military’s front-line combat UAV, the MQ-9 Reaper.

Both aircraft are about the same size and wing-span and both sport identical V-tails, landing gear, imaging pods and propeller-driven rear engines.
The only major difference is the Predator’s engine intake is located on top of the aircraft while the CH-4’s is underneath.
There is no evidence the Chinese directly stole design information through cyber attacks against the Reaper manufacturer, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

ISIS and al-Qaeda: Tactical Twins, Strategic Enemies

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 24
December 17, 2015 ,  Michael W. S. Ryan
How can “Daesh” and al-Qaeda be both tactical twins and strategic enemies? [1] Their tactics are very similar. Even their strategies have the same roots in classical guerrilla doctrine. In a short article, one cannot review all the points of convergence and difference between the two organizations. However, one can begin to define how their respective strategies diverge and why the two are now mortal enemies. Without clarity on these points, no effective counter-strategy can be devised against either.

A good approach to these questions begins with a description of the overarching political military context for Salafist-Jihadist groups, what I would like to refer to as the "strategic wrapper" into which their tactics fit. What I am calling a strategic wrapper is, in broad strokes, the model by which the success of their guerrilla and terrorist tactics may be judged. Without this strategic orientation, we are doomed to interpret temporary tactical adjustments as changes in strategic direction. Or, we might conflate legal and social doctrines with military doctrine and the desire for power of individuals at the center of these organizations. This is a difficult task unless we find the key to interpret al-Qaeda and Daesh thinking about war and politics.

Determining the strategic wrapper of Daesh or al-Qaeda cannot be solely an academic question, if we hope to defeat them. Fortunately, we do not need to guess at the strategic wrapper for either organization, but let us first be clear about what it is not. It is not an apocalyptic vision of end times, as some have suggested recently. The apocalyptic vision is used as a powerful mobilization narrative, but it does not influence military strategy, let alone tactics, for either organization.

The War Against ISIS After Ramadi


Ramadi is an important test case as Baghdad looks to recover Fallujah and Mosul.
Zalmay Khalilzad, January 1, 2016

If history is any indication, even the most promising news from Iraq must be celebrated with caution. But the liberation of the heart of Ramadi, if consolidated, can offer lessons for long-term strategic successes in Iraq and for broader campaign against ISIS.
While the outcome in Ramadi is a positive development, a great deal remains to be accomplished. The fog of war and initial reports can create an inaccurate picture. We may not have reliable reports on ISIS’s precise power in various parts of the city. And it remains unclear when existing ISIS pockets in Ramadi will be cleared, who will hold the areas and what kind of reconstruction effort will be undertaken. A failure by the Iraqi government to deliver in the aftermath of the Ramadi campaign could very well fuel an ISIS resurgence.

These caveats aside, the recent success in Ramadi is significant, and may mark a turning point in the war against ISIS. After the Iraqi army’s collapse in Mosul, Iraqi security forces—especially its special forces—have largely recovered in terms of their reorganization, professionalism and willingness to fight. Although the operation took a long time, Iraqi Special Forces backed by the regular army, U.S. airpower and newly trained Sunni tribal forces performed well against a talented enemy in a difficult urban environment. Whereas previous successes against ISIS, such as in the Sunni Arab city of Tikrit, were spearheaded by Iranian-backed Shiite militias, it was the Iraqi security forces that took the lead in pushing ISIS out of the heart of Ramadi. By all account, the Shiite militias played a minimal role.

Encouraging, too, was the role that recently trained Sunni Arab fighters played in the liberation of Ramadi. The Sunni Arab role in the fight against ISIS is vital. ISIS’s predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, had largely been defeated in 2006 and 2007. The growing sectarianism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, however, radicalized sizable elements of the Sunni Arab community. ISIS emerged in Syrian sanctuaries, expanded into the Sunni parts of Iraq and eventually became a voice for Sunni Arab disenchantment. More recently in Tikrit, where Shiite militias took over Sunni cities, the short-term success against ISIS led to a wave of sectarian abuses against the local population. The resulting Sunni Arab alienation gave ISIS a strategic victory amid the tactical defeat.

We Defeat ISIS. Then What?

December 31, 2015
A consensus has emerged in the American political community (throughout both its GOP and Democratic branches) that the United States can and should obliterate ISIS. The implicit (and sometimes explicit) assumption that inflicting a crushing defeat on the terrorist organization will solve most of our major problems in the region. For realists, this creates an eerie sense of déjà vu. We have encountered such unrealistic, often downright magical, thinking all too often before, with extremely unpleasant results. Rather than ushering in an era of enlightened tolerance, the defeat of ISIS is more likely to be simply another round in an ongoing, extremely complex regional struggle for power. And for America, the verse from the old Simon and Garfunkel song “Mrs. Robinson” may apply: “Laugh about it, shout about it, when you’ve got to choose. Ev’ry way you look at it, you lose.”

The defeat of ISIS will not change the underlying reality that both Iraq and Syria are horribly broken societies—largely because of U.S-led, regime-change schemes. It will be nearly impossible to put either country back together again. To start with, Iraqi Kurds have maintained a de facto independent state for over a decade. They are not about to submit to Baghdad’s (badly frayed) authority. Indeed, Iraqi Kurds took advantage of the most recent chaos to seize Kirkuk, the oil-rich prize that had been in dispute since the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

* Saudi Arabia’s Phony War on Terror

Posted on December 25, 2015
Like a drug cartel claiming to have launched a counternarcotics drive, the Saudi-led “anti-terror” coalition includes all the world’s terror sponsors
A column internationally syndicated by Project Syndicate
BERLIN – Containing the scourge of Islamist terror will be impossible without containing the ideology that drives it: Wahhabism, a messianic, jihad-extolling form of Sunni fundamentalism whose international expansion has been bankrolled by oil-rich sheikhdoms, especially Saudi Arabia. That is why the newly announced Saudi-led anti-terror coalition, the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, should be viewed with profound skepticism.

Wahhabism promotes, among other things, the subjugation of women and the death of “infidels.” It is – to quote US President Barack Obama’s description of what motivated a married couple of Pakistani origin to carry out the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California – a “perverted interpretation of Islam,” and the ideological mother of jihadist terrorism. Its offspring include Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and the Islamic State, all of which blend hostility toward non-Sunnis and anti-modern romanticism into nihilistic rage.

Saudi Arabia has been bankrolling Islamist terrorism since the oil-price boom of the 1970s dramatically boosted the country’s wealth. According to a 2013 European Parliament report, some of the $10 billion invested by Saudi Arabia for “its Wahhabi agenda” in South and Southeast Asia was “diverted” to terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Western leaders have recognized the Saudi role for many years. In a 2009 diplomatic cable, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Thanks largely to the West’s interest in Saudi oil, however, the Kingdom has faced no international sanctions.

India is about to activate it’s satellite monitoring station in Vietnam

Thursday, December 31, 2015
By: IADNews.in
Source Link: Click Here

India is set to get a strategic edge in and around South China Sea region, as its newest satellite-monitoring station in Vietnam is likely to be activated soon and linked up with another existing facility in Indonesia. India has set up a state-of-the-art Data Reception and Tracking and Telemetry Station at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Isro is set to activate it soon and link it up with another station at Biak in Indonesia, officials told Deccan Herald in New Delhi.

The new facility in Ho Chi Minh City will primarily help the Isro to track satellites launched from India and receive data from them.
It will, however, also be an important strategic asset for India in and around South China Sea, which has been at the centre of an escalating conflict between China and its maritime neighbours —Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan.

India of late raised its pitch on South China Sea arguing in favour of freedom of navigation and over-flight, almost echoing strong positions taken by the US and Japan.
New Delhi is of the view that the South China Sea dispute must be solved through dialogue and in a peaceful manner in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

Conserved Conflict: Russia’s Pattern in Ukraine’s East


Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 226
December 17, 2015 , By: Vladimir Socor
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s east—directly and by proxy—has saddled Ukraine with a “frozen” conflict in its Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. The parallel situation in Crimea also qualifies as a “frozen conflict,” insofar as Russia’s forcible annexation is not recognized internationally, and in that sense the peninsula has no valid status. These are the latest in the series of conflicts initiated or abetted by Russia against its neighbors, but Western powers have yet to grasp the operating patterns and to respond adequately.

The inadequacy of that response begins with the terminology. Thus, the value-neutral, equidistant term “conflict” averts naming Russia (directly or via its protégés) as the aggressor party or occupier of the territory. A conflict “freeze” would suggest a natural, spontaneous process, whereas it might better be described as conflict-conservation, designed to relegate the situation to quasi-oblivion and leaving Russia the winner on the ground. It is a reflection on the inadequacy of the “frozen conflict” stereotype that this and associated terms are accompanied sometimes by semi-apologetic inverted commas.

Compared with the predecessor cases, Russia’s conflict undertaking in Ukraine’s east has had by far the most destructive impact in terms of battle theater size, population numbers directly affected (at least four times larger than the populations of Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Karabakh taken together), numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees (possibly ten times the combined numbers in those predecessor, unresolved cases), high-intensity firepower (heavy artillery, multiple-launcher missile systems), damage to fixed assets in Ukraine’s most heavily industrialized area, and Ukrainian battlefield casualties (approximately 9,000 killed in action within 18 months—a higher casualty rate by comparison with those predecessor cases).

Russia's Quiet Military Revolution, and What it Means for Europe

31 December 2015
What should Europe do to counter Russia's military strategy, which currently puts a premium on hybrid warfare and tactical nuclear weapons? Gustav Gressel’s recommendations include 1) planning and preparing to cope with more hybrid scenarios, and 2) crafting a coordinated position on nuclear deterrence.

By Gustav Gressel for European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
This article is an excerpt of a paper originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 12 October 2015. The full paper can be accessed from our Digital Library.
Russia has surprised the West with its military capacity twice in succession. First, in Ukraine, the Russian armed forces overturned Western assumptions about their inefficiency with a swift and coordinated “hybrid war”, combining subversion and infiltration with troop deployment to gain an early military advantage. The effectiveness of Russia’s action unnerved Western planners, who scrambled to devise a response. Then, in Syria, Russia used military force outside the borders of the former Soviet Union for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Its forceful intervention in defence of President Bashar al-Assad made the United States look hesitant and indecisive, though the long-term impact of Russia’s gambit remains uncertain.

Russia’s new military boldness and adventurism has left Western observers puzzled, but it does not come out of nowhere: current Russian strategy is the culmination of a systematic military reform that has been insufficiently appreciated by the European Union and the US. An examination of this reform process will allow us to assess the current strengths and limitations of Russia’s military, and to understand how Russia’s leaders plan to use military force and how the West should respond.

The examination also reveals that, although Russia’s action in Syria is now in the spotlight, it is a sideshow to Russia’s military planning. The Syrian deployment does not draw on the core strengths of the armed forces, or on Moscow’s military vision. That vision is centred on the Eurasian landmass, and above all those areas surrounding Russia’s post-Cold War borders.

Young Islamic Radicals Carry out Arson Attacks on Sufi Tombs in Chechnya

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 227
December 18, 2015 , By: Mairbek Vatchagaev
Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Republic of Chechnya (Source: kp.ru)
Chechnya’s two-century-old Sufi tradition experienced its first crisis 30 years ago, when the first Salafists appeared in the republic. The Salafists did not simply proclaim the supremacy of their teachings, but aspired to take power in the republic. The Salafist aim of grabbing power sparked the first Salafist-Sunni conflict in Chechnya in the second half of 1990s.

When Russia launched the second war with Chechnya in 1999, it regarded the Sufis as allies against the Salafis. The alliance between Chechnya’s pro-Russian political leaders and its Sufi leaders weakened the positions of Sufism in the republic. A certain part of society in Chechnya preferred to see Islam there maintain its traditional neutrality—that is, to abstain from radicalism but also avoid an alliance with the Russian authorities. The armed underground in Chechnya gradually transformed from a moderate secessionist movement to a religious radicalism that rejects everything that does not fit into their view of the world. Still, even the radicals tried to avoid a direct clash, saying they accepted the Sufis (YouTube, September 10, 2012).

A recent incident involving an arson attack on a ziyarat (a sheikh’s grave that has become a pilgrimage site) in the village of Kurchaloi shocked the entire republic (Grozny.tv, November 18). Four residents of the village of Mairtup—Jabrail Usumov, Shamil Ergiev, Khamzat Uspaev and Islambyli Yunusov—were arrested for setting fire to the tomb of Yangulbi-Haji Dokhtukaev, a Sufi sheikh of the Naqshbandi Tariqat who was a famous Muslim preacher in the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The attackers sprinkled gasoline on the tomb, which is only a simple construction with verses from the Koran covered with a carpet, and set it on fire. The young men apparently wanted to use the attack to highlight the failure of the policies of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who relies on the support of Sufism and declares support for Russia and Vladimir Putin personally. However, it was not the first arson attack on aziyarat. Earlier, on October 10, unidentified individuals set fire to the ziyarat of another Sufi hermit, Durdi-sheikh, in the cemetery of the city of Shali. Durdi-sheikh lived in the 19th century and was known for his life as a hermit. The authorities failed to solve that arson attack, thus no reaction from Kadyrov or the wider public followed. These attacks on Sufi sacred sites were the first since the 1930s, when militant atheism ruled the country and the Bolsheviks attacked ziyarats, demanding that Muslims stop visiting the tombs of respected sheikhs.

Ukraine claims to down Russian UAV

Michael Peck, Contributing Writer December 30, 2015

A Ukrainian news site claims that Ukrainian troops have downed a Russian unmanned aircraft.

"The electronic warfare group of the SEVER unit of Ukrainian troops intercepted a Russian UAV, which had been investigating the forefront of the Ukrainian army near Kominternove, Donetsk region," according to the Ukrinform site.

The Ukrainian electronic warfare group's Facebook page claimed, according to Ukrinform, that "the data extracted from the SD cards of the Russian UAV are very valuable because they contain a lot of facts of the Minsk Agreements violations by the Russian-terrorist groups."

Apollo-Gaia Project, Director: David Wasdell

Climate Dynamics:
Facing the Harsh Realities of Now
Climate Sensitivity, Target Temperature & the Carbon Budget
Guidelines for Strategic Action

It is with the utmost concern that we draw your attention to the fundamental methodological flaw in the determination of the value of Climate Sensitivity that is embedded in the Summary for Policymakers of the Scientific Workgroup of the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC. The error was replicated in the Reports of Workgroups 2 and 3 and carried forward into the Synthesis Report. It has been used as the given basis for every subsequent publication. Our radical analysis of Climate Dynamics has generated a new and robust value of "Earth System Sensitivity" which has profound implications for:
  • • The relationship between temperature change and cumulative carbon emissions.
  • • The calculation of "available carbon budget".
  • • The evaluation of the INDCs.
  • • The terms of reference of COP21 in Paris (30 November - 11 December 2015).
  • • The future global strategy for climate stabilisation.
Our analysis is published in dual media (triple-screen video and fully illustrated PDF). These can be used separately or in combination.

A farewell to The Washington Post


In October, Walter Pincus dug through 60-plus boxes in the sub-basement of The Washington Post building as the newspaper prepared to move to a new building. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Walter Pincus December 29

For more than 40 years I have been lucky enough to be part of The Washington Post.
There are no words that could sum up how grateful I am to have had this opportunity to write about subjects I care deeply about, and for a readership that often responded in ways that showed they too cared, whether they agreed with what I wrote or not.

It was Ben Bradlee who hired me originally in 1966, and three generations of the Graham family plus a group of editors that put up with me, even when what I wrote seemed critical of issues they believed in or individuals they admired.
Years ago, I once walked into Ben’s office to ask for a raise. He listened for a moment — he never gave you his full attention for more than a minute or two — and with his wonderful smile he growled back, “You ought to pay me for all the fun you are having.” Ben was right.

I recognize journalism is changing. The evolving Washington Post is different from the June 1, 1960 edition when I shared my first Page One byline, before I even was a staff member. But The Post’s role influencing government in Washington and national politics has never been more critical. More than once I have been told The Post’s front page, along with that of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, is better than a White House memo if you want to reach the president.
Leaving The Post, I have three concerns — not about this newspaper, but related to journalism as a whole, the profession which I love.


BY SEUNG LEE ON 12/31/15

John McAfee, anti-virus software guru, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Guatemala City in 2012. McAfee is now running for president

John McAfee did not miss a beat when asked if the time he hid in the Guatemalan jungle for a month for being linked to a murder of his neighbor, or the time he spent two days this year in jail for driving under the influence with a shotgun made him a suitable person for president of the United States. To McAfee, nobody—including himself—in the 2016 presidential race was ready for the White House, but McAfee says he is the best America’s got.
The 70-year-old McAfee, the creator of the multibillion-dollar anti-virus program which he recently disowned and erstwhile fugitive, recently announced he was entering the presidential race for the nomination of the Libertarian Party. He won't be out in the campaign trail, though; he will be running a purely electronic campaign with regular fireside webcam chats from his seclusive home in rural Tennessee to keep in touch with his supporters.

He initially ran as a candidate for the self-created Cyber Party but jumped ship to the larger Libertarian Party for “practicality.” Unlike, say, Harvard professor Larry Lessig who ran as a fringe candidate to highlight a certain issue, McAfee believes he has a chance—despite his past history as a mercurial millionaire playboy on the run from governments.
“I am not a perfect person,” McAfee tells Newsweek. “But I once ran a multibillion-dollar corporation. I have lived around the world, including in Third World dictatorships like Belize, and [I] know the world.”

His narrative for what happened in his fugitive days in Belize strays from what has been reported in the United States: He declined to make a $2 million political donation to the Belizean ruling party, and was subsequently raided by a Belizean gang, who shot his dogs. Then the government called to question him for a murder of his neighbor that he says was done to bully McAfee for money. That’s when he decided to flee—and when he says the falsehoods started flurrying in the press.
“People who read the Belizean newspapers know the truth,” McAfee says. “In Belize, it is legal to hold people for questioning in prisons for 15 years. Perhaps I should have made the donation. But the U.S. media knew that ‘man on the hunt for murder’ would sell headlines, so they made up stories.”