7 February 2016

The New Threat to Islam in India

By Sunil Raman
February 04, 2016

Recent months have brought several reports of Indian Muslims being arrested and deported back from the Middle East or, as in January, arrested by Syrian forces while attempting to cross into ISIS-controlled territory. One Indian Muslim has now joined ISIS in Afghanistan.

For comparison, a hundred Syrians are now reported to have overstayed their visa period and have “disappeared” inside India. Indeed, the number of Muslim men from India joining ISIS is negligible when compared even with the U.K. and other European countries. But the growing influence of radical ideas in a country with over 150 million Muslims (the third largest in the world) has long been flagged by security experts as cause for concern.

The worry is that what al-Qaeda could not achieve ISIS can: attract Indian Muslims through social media and win new supporters. Over the decades Saudis used Zakat money (Muslim aid) to build new mosques and seminaries in India that have radicalized younger Muslims and put them on an ultra-conservative path.

In fact: Pathankot attacks expose challenges in securing Air Force bases

Written by Sushant Singh
February 5, 2016 

Most airbases have boundary walls but not every yard of these is monitored 24×7. Sentry posts are 300 to 400 metres apart. Electronic surveillance has come into in vogue but is still not employed across all airbases.

Security personnel at the Pathankot Air Force base in Punjab. (File Photo)

During the 1965 India-Pakistan war, Pakistan went ahead with a bold and unconventional plan to neutralise the Indian airbases close to the international border. At around 2 am on September 6, around 180 commandos of Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG) were airdropped by three C-130s near the Indian airbases of Adampur, Pathankot and Halwara. The plan was that after destroying fighter aircraft and putting these bases out of action, the commandos would ex-filtrate back to Pakistan through the numerous rivulets and nallas that dot the area in Punjab.

Pakistan: Overview of Sources of Tension with Regional Implications 2015

Safiya Aftab, Independent Analyst

Policy Research Papers

January 2016

After the upheavals of 2014, wherein the government faced a sustained street campaign from some opposition parties for the better part of the year, 2015 was a relatively stable year for domestic politics. Ironically, the improvement in government-opposition relations came after the country witnessed the worst terrorist incident in its history – the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, in which 132 children lost their lives, in addition to staff and other personnel. The incident, which had significant repercussions in terms of Pakistan’s response to militancy, its relations with Afghanistan, and domestic law enforcement, cast a pall on the first few months of the year, with widespread shock and horror being expressed across the country and internationally. Political parties, civil society groups from across the spectrum, and the media, all demanded decisive action from the authorities, who responded by lifting the moratorium on the death penalty the day after the attack, and intensifying the ongoing military operation, or Zarb e Azb as it is named, in the North Waziristan region.

Afghanistan Won’t Be Able to Pay for its Military Until 2024 (At Least)

February 04, 2016

While the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have kept insurgents from achieving their strategic goals in 2015, their performance was uneven and several shortfalls will persist beyond 2016, the commander of U.S.-Forces Afghanistan, General John F. Campbell, said on February 2 in a testimony in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

General Campbell, who also commands NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, noted that capability gaps persist in air power, combined arms operations, intelligence collection and dissemination, and maintenance. “One of the greatest tactical challenges for the Afghan security forces has been overcoming the Afghan air forces extremely limited organic close air support capability,” Campbell noted, while admitting that NATO has started to focus on building up Afghan airpower quite late.

Pakistan Will Provide 'Special Force' to Defend Chinese Investments

February 05, 2016

Pakistan plans to create a “special force” of 10,000 troops to protect Chinese workers and industries along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Pakistani minister said on Wednesday. Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi made the announcement in Beijing, where he held talks with Chinese officials (including State Councilor Yang Jiechi).

According to People’s Daily, Fatemi said that Pakistan has decided to create a special force of “highly trained military people” whose “task will be to provide the necessary safety and security of Chinese working in Pakistan and the Chinese companies and industries set up there.” He added that the new force “will be specially equipped and will have special organizations in concerned ministries backing them.”

'Nearly All' Australian Patrols in South China Sea Are Challenged by China

February 05, 2016

Australia’s air force chief said that China now challenges “nearly all” Australian surveillance flights over the South China Sea. Air Marshal Leo Davies toldSydney Morning Herald that the number of Chinese warnings to routine Australian patrols had increased, a byproduct of an increasing Chinese presence on disputed islands in the area.

The nature of challenges – radio broadcasts warning aircraft to leave the area – had not changed, much less escalated, Davies emphasized. The frequency however, has. “Nearly all” flights in the South China Sea were now being challenged by China. Davies attributed the rise in warnings to China’s island building and construction activities: “Because the Chinese have done the [land] reclamation, there is a greater Chinese presence,” he said.

“[W]herever we go on our normal Gateway patrol, we now find that there is an increasing number of locations where the challenge would occur,” Davies continued. He was referring to the “Operation Gateway” maritime patrols Australia routinely conducts in the North Indian Ocean and South China Sea. Davies acknowledged that Operation Gateway had recently seen a “slight increase” in patrols of the South China Sea relative to the Indian Ocean.

South China Sea Update: Assessing the US Freedom of Navigation Operation in the Paracel Islands

By Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran
February 05, 2016

Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran discuss recent developments in the South China Sea.

The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran discuss recent developments in the South China Sea, including the recent U.S. Navy freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Paracel Islands, ASEAN’s role in the South China Sea, and the differences between the October 2015 and January 2016 FONOPs.

For The Diplomat‘s coverage of the latest FONOP, see here and here. For some of the international legal background on the FONOP, see here. For more analysis of the recent FONOP, see Gregory Poling’s post at at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative here and Julian Ku’s Lawfare post here.

What Is Really Happening In China?

4 Feb, 2016
Vivek Kaul is the author of the 'Easy Money' trilogy. He tweets @kaul_vivek 

Vivek Kaul speaks to Satyajit Das, an internationally respected commentator on financial markets, credited with predicting the current financial crisis. He has also featured 2010 Oscar-winning documentaryInside Job.

They speak about Das’s new book The Age of Stagnation-Why Perpetual Growth is Unattainable and the Global Economy is in Peril. In this interview, Das talks about China and tells us what is really happening in there.

Vivek Kaul : On page 65 of your new book The Age of Stagnation you write: “Half of the investment in China since 2009 has been ineffective.” What makes you say that?

Satyajit Das: China’s growth especially after 2008-2009 was driven by a massive debt fund investment boom. A good proportion of this investment can be classified as ‘mal investment’ i.e revenues projects where revenues will be insufficient to cover the borrowing or generate adequate financial returns.

The bulk of investment has been by SOEs (state-owned enterprises) in government-backed infrastructure projects – the tiegong-ji (meaning “iron rooster”), a homonym for the Chinese words for rail, roads and airports.

Reshape US Army, Asian Alliances To Deter China: CSBA

February 03, 2016 

Army THAAD missile launch.

WASHINGTON: The US Army must play a larger role in the Pacific to deter China, one of DC’s leading defense experts is telling Congress today. That larger role requires politically and fiscally difficult decisions to build new kinds of units and base them in new places,Andrew Krepinevich told me in advance of his Capitol Hill briefing.

The core of Krepinevich’s vision: Army missile batteries — for anti-air, anti-ship, missile defense, and long-range strike — regularly deploying to, or even permanently based in, West Pacific nations. Those allies could contribute crucial ground forces themselves, each according to their capabilities. Japan has its nascent coastal anti-ship batteries. The Philippines could build a state-sponsored irregular defense force, one that takes tactical and technological lessons (but not ethical ones) from Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Andrew Krepinevich

Chinese Media: Our Artificial Islands Are Better Than Vietnam's

February 05, 2016

China has often had satellite imagery used against it as it built artificial islands in the South China Sea. This week, though, it’s China’s turn: a Chinese media outlet, China Youth Net, is using satellite images to enjoy some schadenfreude at Vietnam’s expense.

First, the site points to the satellite imagery as evidence that Vietnam “illegally” constructed artificial islands on “China’s Nanhua Reef,” one of the disputed features in the Spratlys (known as Cornwallis South Reef in English). China Youth Net said Vietnam had dredged up sand and built two “man-made islands” in the South China Sea. In the images, a trench (purportedly causing by Vietnam’s dredging) is clearly visible in the water around the feature.

However, the article then claims most of the sand was finally washed away by the ocean – “because of Vietnam’s low technological level” during the reclamation process. As evidence, China Youth Net provided satellite images of two unnamed reefs, from August and December 2016. In the December photos, much of the landmass has indeed washed away. The site concludes that last December’s Typhoon Jasmine “upset Vietnam’s calculations” by “blowing away” its artificial islands.

Assad has a clear plan to stay in power. This is it

February 1, 2016

A rebel fighter fires towards pro-regime forces during clashes in Sheikh Najar area of Aleppo. The Assad regime has sought to pit rebel groups against each other, in order to emerge victorious. 

At least the talks have started. Merely getting the various parties to the civil war in Syria to sit down in the same building has been a qualified achievement. Getting them to sit together in the same room will be harder.

The entire diplomatic track for the Syrian peace talks has revolved around the idea of small gains: that making deliberate, incremental steps towards a distant goal is progress. But there is a fundamental flaw in this thinking and its locus is the presidential palace in Damascus. The Assad regime has never accepted the distant goal towards which the peace process is moving. It has been persuaded by Russia, its backer, to walk the path – but in the background it is ensuring that the talkers never reach their destination.

More ISIS Attacks in Indonesia Likely Amid Leadership Rivalry: Report

February 04, 2016

More terror attacks in Indonesia are likely as Islamic State (IS) leaders battle for influence, a new report by an influential Jakarta-based group has found.

As Indonesia recovers from the deadly attacks which rocked Jakarta on the morning of January 14, a trio of Indonesians based with ISIS in Syria are competing to encourage and fund their contacts in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to undertake attacks, while some groups in Indonesia simultaneously act on their own without direction from the Middle East, the report released by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) on February 2 concluded. The competition among these groups, the report argues, is likely to fuel violence in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

“More terrorist attacks in Indonesia are likely as local ISIS leaders compete at home and abroad to establish their supremacy,” the report argues.

ISIS Helps Forge the Kurdish Nation

February 5, 2016

A Kurdish proverb states that “Kurds have no friends but the mountains.” Over the centuries, the Kurdish nation has suffered at the hands of competing great powers, who play factions of Kurds against each other in regional struggles. In an effort to escape such exploitation, the Kurds have frequently fled to fringe areas outside of government control. This traditional escape is referred to as “going to the mountains”—a phrase that’s more than just a euphemism.

However, the rise of the Islamic State (IS) may lay the groundwork for a Kurdish state by soothing the Kurds’ factional divisions. It has also helped raise Kurds’ autonomy within their host countries.

What Would Be Most Likely to Unravel the Iran Nuclear Agreement

February 4, 2016

The agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program—one of the most significant achievements in recent years on behalf of nuclear nonproliferation—deserves ample attention and effort to preserve it. Preserving the accord will require much attention and effort, given that many of those who strove to prevent the agreement from ever being completed or implemented are still trying to kill it. A U.S. presidential election year is a fertile time for the agreement-killing efforts, with several presidential candidates on one side of the political spectrum trying to outdo each other in flaunting their anti-Iranism by promising if they take office to renounce the agreement outright.

Why Is Russia Cutting Troops in Tajikistan?

February 05, 2016

Tajikistan’s 1,344 km-long border with Afghanistan has been a noticeable source of worry for both the region and Russia. Over the past year, Russia has helped parlay that worry into action of a sort. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has held several exercises aimed at facing off a veritable invasion from the south. Part of that flurry of worry was the announcement last April that Russia would grow it presence in Tajikistan from 7,000 to 9,000 troops by 2020.

Not so fast, it seems. According to Reuters, on Thursday, a Russian defense ministry spokesman said that Russia would in fact be reducing its troop numbers in Tajikistan as it reorganized its troops there from a division into a brigade. By phone, he told Reuters, “In plain language, its headcount will decline slightly, but its mobility and ability to react quickly to any situations will improve.”

US Must Put Human Rights First With Cambodia: Lawmaker

February 05, 2016

The United States must put human rights first in its relationship with Cambodia, an opposition lawmaker told an audience in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

U.S.-Cambodia relations have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visiting Phnom Penh in late January where his discussions with officials including Prime Minister Hun Sen included boosting bilateral economic ties as well as human rights and democracy concerns. Cambodian officials have been looking for opportunities to further open U.S. markets to Cambodian exports, particularly with the country being left out of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership which could erode its competitiveness. Hun Sen will also be attending a special U.S.-ASEAN leaders’ summit in Sunnylands, California later this month.

But Chamroeun Nhay, one of two opposition members of parliament (MPs) who were dragged from their vehicles and savagely beaten outside the National Assembly last October at a protest led by a group aligned with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said that Washington should ensure that the Cambodian government respects rights before attempting to boost ties with the country, including through greater trade and investment.

TPP: The Ratification Race is On

February 05, 2016

With the signing ceremony in Auckland, New Zealand today, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has taken a significant, although symbolic, step forward. The text agreed upon in October 2015 was reached after five years of formal negotiations, which themselves grew out of U.S. negotiations with the four members of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand). The TPP includes 12 states (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) which together represent nearly 40 percent of global GDP and a third of world trade. The agreement is perhaps the most comprehensive, if not longest, free trade agreement ever concocted.

At the signing ceremony, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called the signing “an important step” but noted that the the agreement “is still just a piece of paper, or rather over 16,000 pieces of paper, until it actually comes into force.”

Cover: Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern FlankRead Online Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank


Research Questions 

What might the consequences be if Russia decided to reclaim the territory of the three Baltic republics — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — which are NATO members? 
What might be done to prevent or mitigate such a scenario? 

Russia's recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — former Soviet republics, now member states that border Russian territory — may be the most problematic of these. In a series of war games conducted between summer 2014 and spring 2015, RAND Arroyo Center examined the shape and probable outcome of a near-term Russian invasion of the Baltic states. The games' findings are unambiguous: As presently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Fortunately, it will not require Herculean effort to avoid such a failure. Further gaming indicates that a force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states.

Russia Intends to Reduce Its Military Presence in Tajikistan

February 4, 2016

Russia to Cut Troop Levels in Tajikistan Amid Questions About Its Influence

ALMATY — Russia plans to reduce troop numbers at its military base in Tajikistan, a Russian defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday, another move that suggests its political influence in the Central Asian country and wider region may be waning.

The surprise development comes less than two months after Russia pulled back a motor rifle regiment from an area close to the Afghan border, which it said it had wanted to reinforce, to Dushanbe, the Tajik capital.

The decision to cut troop numbers – whether voluntary or not – will be seen as a setback for Russia, which is facing increasingly tough competition from the United States and China for diplomatic supremacy in Central Asia, whose strategic location and natural resources make it a prize.

A Russia-based spokesman for the Central Military District said the Russian military group in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic, would be scaled down to become a brigade rather than a division.

America and the European Union have reached a deal on data protection, But Is Europe Safe From the Eavesdroppers?

Swords and shields

February 6, 2016 (print edition)

NAIVETY and paranoia mark the European Union’s attitude to espionage. The EU does not have a spy agency, nor does it have access to the intelligence collected by its members and their allies. That has advantages: EU decision-makers need not worry about keeping secrets (because they do not know any); nor must they grapple with the legal and political practicalities of intelligence oversight—such as what access spooks have to private data. The downside is that they do not see the benefits of espionage, and have a lurid fear (mixed perhaps with envy) of what spy services, particularly American ones, get up to.

Yet it is the European Parliament which votes on data-protection rules, the European Commission which negotiates agreements with other countries, and the judges of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) who have the final say on whether those deals meet the right standards. And in October 2015 the ECJ, on the advice of the Commission and to the applause of many parliamentarians, upended the “Safe Harbour” agreement which for the past 15 years had allowed foreign companies to store Europeans’ personal data on American computers.

Russia and Climate Change: A Looming Threat

By Quentin Buckholz
February 04, 2016

The historic climate change mitigation agreementreached in Paris by 195 countries on December 12, 2015 was made possible by the willingness of formerly recalcitrant actors like China, India and the United States to agree to multilateral, binding emissions targets. To a casual observer, Russia might appear to be a member of this group of reformed skeptics. Moscow submitted an official climate action plan to the UN on May 31, 2015, well in advance of the Paris Conference, surprising observers (including the U.S. State Department’s lead climate negotiator, Todd Stern) who were mindful of Russia’s historically skeptical attitude regarding the necessity of international action on climate change. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed up the submission with a forceful speech at the Paris conference, declaring, “The quality of life of all people on this planet depends on… our ability to resolve the problem of climate.”

Will Iran License-build Russia’s T-90S Main Battle Tank?

February 04, 2016

The Russian company Uralvagonzavod, the world’s largest main battle tank manufacturer, has proposed to organize the licensed production of the third-generation T-90s main battle tank in Iran, once restrictions on military cooperation between the two countries are lifted, TASS reports.

Uralvagonzavod’s deputy director general, Alexey Zharich noted that his company suspended cooperation with Iran to abide by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1020 of June 9, 2010, which imposed an arms embargo on Iran.

“But if restrictions on military-technical cooperation with Iran are lifted, the corporation together with Rosoboronexport (arms exporting company) is ready to continue cooperation, in particular, on the licensed production of the T-90S tanks, modernization of the T-72S tanks and their production capacities,” Zharich said.

Kissinger’s Vision for U.S.-Russia Relations

February 4, 2016

From 2007 into 2009, Evgeny Primakov and I chaired a group composed of retired senior ministers, high officials and military leaders from Russia and the United States, including some of you present here today. Its purpose was to ease the adversarial aspects of the U.S.-Russian relationship and to consider opportunities for cooperative approaches. In America, it was described as a Track II group, which meant it was bipartisan and encouraged by the White House to explore but not negotiate on its behalf. We alternated meetings in each other’s country. President Putin received the group in Moscow in 2007, and President Medvedev in 2009. In 2008, President George W. Bush assembled most of his National Security team in the Cabinet Room for a dialogue with our guests.

Egypt's decades-long war on college kids

February 1, 2016

An Egyptian student holds up a flare during a protest against court verdict acquitting former President Hosni Mubarak, at the Cairo University campus on December 3, 2014, in Cairo, Egypt.Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Egypt's Interior Ministry admitted last week that at least 3,462 university students are currently imprisoned in Egypt. As Middle East history professor Howard Eissenstatnoted, that's more than the entire student body of some US colleges, including Vassar, Swarthmore, and Amherst.

So why are an entire college's worth of students locked up in Egyptian prisons?

It's all part of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's expanding crackdown on dissent after the Arab Spring. Human rights activists have given alarming accounts recently that the Sisi regime is "disappearing" hundreds of people — that is, illegally detaining and holding them in secret locations, where they are often tortured.

Cyberspying and The new transatlantic data “privacy shield”

The new transatlantic data “privacy shield”

February 2, 2016

THE EUROPEAN Union and America have reached a deal on data protection. The “EU-US Privacy Shield” allows companies to store Europeans’ personal data on American computers. This ends a three-month hiatus since the European Court of Justice struck down the previous agreement, “Safe Harbour”, on the grounds that it gave insufficient protection against snooping by American spy agencies. Failure to reach a deal could have sparked a damaging legal spat, in which some European national data protection agencies could have ruled illegal all transfers of data across the Atlantic.

A transatlantic gulf separates ideas about data privacy: EU law sees it as a cherished human right; in America, it is more about consumer protection. Moreover, America’sNational Security Agency (NSA)—the biggest and most powerful electronic-intelligence agency in the world—sparks fears in Europe of untrammelled snooping. The EU has no intelligence agencies of its own—so the tradeoffs between security and privacy which exist at national levels (where spymasters cooperate gladly and gratefully with the NSA) are invisible. Caught in the middle are the internet and technology companies: big ones could set up Europe-only data centres; small ones might find that doing business across the Atlantic was just too much trouble.

GCHQ’s Top Secret Data Mining Handbook

GCHQ’s data-mining techniques revealed in new Snowden leak

February 3, 2016

Shhh! Top Secret—don’t pass it on… 

A “Data Mining Research Problem Book” marked “top secret strap 1” has been leaked that details some of the key techniques used by GCHQ to sift through the huge volumes of data it pulls continuously from the Internet.

GCHQ’s Spam Problem

GCHQ’s Spam Problem

February 3, 2016

Spam is the bane of the internet, flooding inboxes with offers of viagra pills, get-rich-quick schemes, or the promise of love with a mail-order bride. According to newly published documents, even Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)—the UK’s signals intelligence agency—has a problem with junk emails.

“Spam emails are a large proportion of emails seen in SIGINT [signals intelligence],” reads part of a dense document from the Snowden archive,published by Boing Boing on Tuesday. “GCHQ would like to reduce the impact of spam emails on data storage, processing and analysis.”

Dated September 2011, the 96-page “HIMR Data Mining Research Problem Book” lists its authors as researchers from the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research (HIMR). HIMR is a partnership between GCHQ and the University of Bristol, and supports “research across a range of areas of mathematics in the UK,” according to the university website.

In the document, researchers “set out areas of long-term data mining research,” all of which “are about improving our understanding of large datasets.” The section on the spam problem is just one small part of the document, which is marked as UK TOP SECRET STRAP1 COMINT, and only to be viewed by appropriate officials from Five Eyes member countries.

Changes in the Russian Army’s Order of Battle

February 3, 2016

Russia Downsizes And Updates Its Playbook

Russia recently announced that it was moving ten more brigades to its western borders. While this is seen as a threatening move by East European nations it is much less of a threat than in the past. That’s because the Russian army has been falling apart since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. After that came fifteen years of practically no new equipment and a vast downsizing. The Cold War force of 175 divisions dwindled to 25, plus 21 independent brigades (equivalent to another 5 divisions). These divisions were, for the most part, very under strength and poorly equipped. By 2006, the Russian army was smaller than the American army and much less capable.

The fearsome “Red Army” of the Cold War period died out in the 1990s and was replaced by not much. This can be seen clearly during recent Russian operations against Ukraine. For the operations in and near Ukraine the Russians was able to bring in about twenty percent of their combat brigades, usually the most effective (Spetsnaz and airborne) and experienced (ones recently in the Caucasus) brigades. The dozen or so brigades sent to the borders of eastern Ukraine, or into eastern Ukraine itself represented the best Russia had as the rest of the army is still crippled by inexperience and shortages of personnel and equipment. Russia is still trying to replace obsolete and worn out Cold War era weapons and equipment.

Why Islands Still Matter in Asia

February 5, 2016

The Western Pacific “island chains” are a persistent feature of Asia’s maritime geography. While their underlying fundaments remain constant, their specific strategic importance has evolved over time. Different major powers have thus interpreted, then re-interpreted and re-evaluated, the value of particular islands, the role they play in national military strategy, and their operational significance in a warfighting context. Chinese naval strategists such as former naval commander Admiral Liu Huaqing have devoted considerable attention to the island chains since the mid-1980s, examining how and where the island chains can hinder or support China’s maritime goals. Yet Chinese strategists are hardly unique in their efforts—military theorists and planners from Germany, Japan and the United States have all pondered the geopolitics of the islands and archipelagos of the Western Pacific, during both peacetime and wartime. To understand the progression of Chinese views, and more recent debates among U.S., Japanese and Chinese strategists, we must trace this lineage of strategic ideas that stretches back more than a century. 

Securing Taiwan Starts With Overhauling Its Navy

February 5, 2016

Torrents of “advice for a new president” buffet newly elected chief executives. Op-eds, learned journal articles and think-tank briefs galore hold forth on matters great and small. Here’s another thimbleful of counsel for the surge gushing Tsai Ing-wen’s way. When it comes to Taiwan’s maritime defense, President-elect Tsai must accentuate the positive things incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou has done. And she must play up the positive while eliminating the negative.

Tsai is in a strong position to do so. The Taiwanese electorate awarded herDemocratic Progressive Party control of not just the Presidential Office but the Legislative Yuan, the island’s lawmaking body. Electoral triumph thus equips the incoming president to put her imprint on Taiwan’s maritime strategy. If she makes the effort. Contrary to civics classes, even presidents don’t get their way just by issuing edicts to governmental bodies.