24 February 2016

I have a dream

1. I have a dream.

2. Our soldiers fighting CI Ops in J&K and in North East will wear light weight bullet proof jackets and helmets and NOT the present heavy staff and the DRDO invented patkas. My dream is triggered by a recent news item Army Plans to Field New Protective Vest, Armored Shirt in 2019 available at http://strategicstudyindia.blogspot.in/2016/02/army-plans-to-field-new-protective-vest.html
3. India continues to remain the world's largest arms importer, accounting for 14% of the global imports in the 2011-2015 time frame, India spent a whopping Rs. 83,458.31 crore on arms imports in a matter of three years ending 2013-14 The latest data on international arms transfers released by a global think-tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), also shows India's arms imports remain three times greater than those of its rivals China and Pakistan. Its biggest suppliers are Russia, the US, Israel and France. Russia accounts for 70% of our arms import. But the situation is fast changing and US is fast grabbing the lucrative market. Russians also are exploiting Pakis by offering them latest armed helicopters. After India, China ranks second in the global arms import list with 4.7%, China used to top the imports chart earlier but has gradually built a stronger DIB over the last couple of decades to even emerge as the world's third largest arms exporter after the US and Russia. Incidentally, Pakistan is the main recipient of Chinese arms exports, notching up 35% of the total, followed by Bangladesh (20%) and Myanmar (16%). Russia, in turn, is China's largest arms supplier with 59%, followed by France (15%) and Ukraine (14%). Noting that India's arms exports has jumped by 90% between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, SIPRI reiterated the well-acknowledged fact that "a major reason for the high-level of imports is that the Indian arms industry has so far largely failed to produce competitive indigenously-designed weapons".
4. The present Govt quickly and rightly realised the best bet in Make in India initiative is the defence sector. While this initiative is better than purchasing outright from foreign vendors there are lot of issues. General Electric Co has won a $2.6 billion (nearly Rs 17,271.8 crore) contract to supply India's railways with 1,000 diesel locomotives. If GE makes railway engine in India who benefits. Well, there will be some highly skilled people who will get job in the most sophisticated and automated factories, there will be some suppliers of small items and ancillaries, some people will give vehicles on rent and all that. At least something will happen. The ratio of funds required and employment generated is huge. It is going up and not going down in any hi tech manufacturing field. It is the services which generates max employment. In the United States 70 percent of the workforce works in the service sector; in Japan, 60 percent, and in Taiwan, 50 percent. United States employment as estimated in 2012, is divided into 79.7% in the service sector, 19.2% in the manufacturing sector and 1.1% in the agriculture sector. But larger issue is we have to design our own staff. Otherwise GE or its ilk will get all the money using our cheap labour force making them as sweat shops workers. Who is going to have the IPR. Are they going to transfer those rights. BIG NO. I am not clear on many issues of defence acquisition.I am flagging these issues in following paragraphs.
We have nine DPSUs. 41 ordnance factories are spread across 26 different locations and employ close to 1,25,000 people. A recent report tears into the Department of Defence Production. “The DDP, which on behalf of the Services and the MoD would have been the instrument of indigenisation, became primarily a custodian of a large collection of ordnance factories and de-facto owner of shipyards, aircraft factories etc.” This resulted in a conflict of interest, the report says.

5. We have this offset policy since 2006. 30% worth of orders have to be sourced locally. 19 contracts worth 16,000 crores ($3 billion) have been signed since 2006. It is expected that there will be offset of $30 billion out of $100 billion worth of defence imports now. Due to offset clause cost of equipment is increased. People in the know of things is of the opinion that even say 3% increase in cost gets compensated if you see overall life cycle cost. Due to the offset clause large number of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises have come up. They have tied up with the foreign vendors and are manufacturing locally number of high tech components and sub assemblies. However, it is the vendors who select offset programs and partners and in many cases Indian critical needs are not catered for. Mostly low tech components/sub assemblies are made here. Since the offset clause is not getting fully utilised, the defence industry lobby is now demanding to expand the scope of offset to non military fields cancelling the very concept of getting high technology for the indigenous defence industry. They, tongue in check, will give examples of some countries exporting rice in place of defence offset. We can export potatoes to compensate for offsets. Rafael has 50% offset clause. Can anybody tell me what is going to happen to this 50%.

6. I can understand initially we were not very well conversant with the laws, process, negotiation, enforcing penalty, audit etc. But 10 years have passed. By now we should be expert on these issues. I want to know how much offset clause has delivered. How much vendors have not done. How have we penalised them. What is the audit methodology? It is not that the private sector is paragon of virtue. If a particular vendor does not fulfill the contractual obligations, he sould be punished. There is enough provision built into the contract. It should not be like NPA of banks. People outside have a feeling that once a contract has been signed, little effort is paid to enforce contractual obligations and vendors get away with blue murder. This feeling must be proved wrong.

Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Route
7. Of late more and more defence equipment are being procured through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Route. As the existing procurement process is extremely complex, cumbersome, riddled with so many loop holes FMS is becoming a preferable option to bypass these procedures. If you ask an army soldier, he would say damn the procedure. I want it now. I am naked. For example, say Air Defence Equipments. FMS piggybacks on the seller country’s own acquisition process. It gives some sort of sovereign guarantee, there is no middlemen. Since the equipment is already in use, the logistic, training, support etc are well established.
8. However these are serious issues involved which need to be discussed.
9. From 2002 to 2011 DPP was changed seven times in nine years. The latest change is in the offing. Media reports indicate number of path breaking changes are being made to make DPP simpler and necessary concern of all stake holders have been addressed. The new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), which will be notified within a couple of months gives top priority to a new indigenous design, development and manufacturing (IDDM) category under "Buy Indian", will help bolster the indigenous DIB. Under it private sector companies will be chosen for "strategic partnerships" in six broad areas ranging from aircraft and warships to tanks and guided missile systems. The "strategic partnership model" is designed to create capacity in the private sector, in tie-ups with foreign collaborators, over and above the capacity and infrastructure that exists in defence PSUs These are very welcome steps, long overdue. Point is will the latest DPP make sure that we do not have to go through FMS route because of procedural delays. There is a great fallacy here. Government only makes the policy. Then it says, it is too complex and time consuming. So damn the process and go for FMS route! DPP is based on fundamental principle of transparency, free competition and impartiality. FMS abandons open competition, procures equipment on single vendor basis. Every FMS deal violets all the above principles. People have serious misgivings on FMS. Some of them are enumerated below.

Equating Airborne Forces with Special Forces

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
23 Feb , 2016

It was amusing to watch a recent program on Lok Sabha TV on Army’s Special Forces with not one of the veteran military panelists having served even for a single day in a Special Forces unit. Reminded one of the now infamous Track II recommending withdrawal from Siachen with not one of the nine military members served, visited or taken a briefing on Siachen. While the Track II had their agenda about Siachen, the above TV panelists indulged in perception building that there is no difference between airborne forces and Special Forces.

If there was indeed no difference between the two, why would the US maintain 82 and 101 Airborne Divisions separate from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM)?

Though this is a game going on for long to somehow get hold of the Special Forces Allowance and the special qualification badge for all airborne forces, the perception building campaign has been accelerated of late perceiving establishment of the Special Operations Command in the near future. So you find views being expressed that the role, tasks and organizations of airborne and Special Forces are by and large the same, and need to be reviewed.

We need thinking spaces like JNU and the govt must stay out of it

Abhijit Banerjee 
Feb 16, 2016 

I remember another major police action at JNU. It was the summer of ’83 and we, the students of JNU, had gheraoed the vice-chancellor in his house for the umpteenth time. The pretext was the expulsion of the president of the student union, the Kanhaiya Kumar of the day, for reasons that escape me now.

The police arrived in the late afternoon. They broke down the vice-chancellor’s house, “rescued him” and arrested a bunch of us. Another 300-odd courted arrest. We were beaten (I was) and thrown into Tihar jail, charged not quite with sedition, but attempt to murder and the rest. The charges were eventually dropped — thank god — but not before we spent ten days or so in Tihar.

The police action was sponsored by the Congress government at the Centre and had the support of much of the faculty, many of whom, like the vice-chancellor, were prominent members of the Left. The justification, I recall, was that the student body had become “lumpenised” (what an ugly word), and could no longer be relied upon to pursue historically appropriate causes. A telling sign of the lumpenisation was the election of a student union president who was not from the reliable SFI and AISF, student wings, respectively of the CPM and CPI. The incident was used as an excuse to change JNU’s radical admissions policy, which gave students who had gone to school in rural areas extra points in the admission process, which was identified as the way all these lumpens were getting into JNU.

Pakistan’s Nuclear ‘Normality’ Through External Deals: Chasing A Chimera – Analysis

By Manpreet Sethi*
FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Several recent writings have recommended how Pakistan could and should be accommodated into the nuclear mainstream. Mark Fitzpatrick, a non-proliferation analyst at the IISS, London, had advocated this through his Adelphi paper entitled “Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers” in 2014. More recently in 2015, Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon made a similar case in a Carnegie publication entitled “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan.”

Interestingly, Pakistan’s military and diplomatic elite have been demanding the same ever since India earned itself a nuclear cooperation agreement with the USA and an exceptionalisation from the NSG. This din reached a crescendo in October 2015 just before PM Sharif was to visit Washington. US newspapers hinted at the possibility of a US-Pak nuclear deal as a means to get Pakistan to limit expansion of its nuclear arsenal. Though nothing came out of this then, Pakistan continues to voice the demand. On 12 February 2016, Pak foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, lamented that a “discriminatory approach has impacted strategic stability” and argued that as a “legitimate and normal nuclear power with legitimate needs for nuclear energy,” Pakistan too was entitled to a deal with US.

Afghan Army Abandons Another District in Helmand Province to the Taliban

Bill Roggio
February 22, 2016

Afghan Army Abandons Another District in Helmand

Yesterday, the Afghan National Army withdrew from two bases in the district of Musa Qala in Helmand. Today, we learn that the Afghan Army also withdrew from the district of Now Zad.

It appears that the Afghan military doesn’t intend to return to the bases anytime soon. As TOLONews reported, the bases are said to have been destroyed as the troops left:

Major general Mohammad Moeen Faqir, commander of 215 Maiwand Army Corps said Sunday that Afghan National Army (ANA) troops have withdrawn from three bases in Musa Qala and Nawzad districts in a move to improve security situations in the volatile province.

The three bases evacuated by the Afghan army are Sher Ghazian and Roshan tower bases in Musa Qala and Dahni base in Nawzad district.

According to members of the provincial council, 400 ANA troops were deployed in each base.

The ANA allegedly torched all three bases after leaving them. Security forces also reportedly evacuated the area under tight security from air and ground.

India, Pakistan & The Great American Game

FEBRUARY 22, 2016

Some shift the focus on Pakistan's ability to manipulate a "misguided" Washington. Such views are common but betray a naiveté.

The White House decision to approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan has once again sparked an interest on the nature of America's role in the subcontinent. While Indian observers have unanimously expressed their discontent, there is no serious attempt to deconstruct US policy. The reaction is a combination of frustration and irritation softened by a confidence that India is strong enough to take these recurring set backs in its stride. Some shift the focus on Pakistan's ability to manipulate a "misguided" Washington. Such views are common but betray a naiveté. The dearth of serious historical studies on US's South Asia policies remains curiously stark considering India's entire military machine including its nuclear weapons complex has been erected to deal with the consequences of US involvement in subcontinental geopolitics.

Reporting on Life, Death and Corruption in Southeast Asia


FEB. 21, 2016

BANGKOK — The protesters built what looked like medieval ramparts topped with sharpened wooden stakes in the heart of Bangkok. The military was preparing to sweep them out.

As the sun was setting, I spotted Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawatdiphol, a renegade who had defected to the protesters, and asked him what he would do next.

His “people’s army” would not back down, he said. “The military cannot get in here.”

Then came a loud crack, the sound of a sniper’s bullet breaking the sound barrier. General Khattiya collapsed at my feet.

One blink earlier he was answering my questions. Now he was slumped on the ground, his vacant eyes still open, as blood spilled onto his camouflage uniform. The world around me went into slow motion as I watched the general being dragged away by his supporters.

WikiLeaks Claims NSA Spied On Ban Ki-Moon, Other World Leaders For US Oil Companies

FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Wikileaks published a new trove of top secret documents revealing that the NSA spied on the private meetings of major world leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, German chancellor Merkel, as well as the prime ministers of Italy and Israel.

The National Security Agency (NSA) listened in on high-level meetings on climate change, global economics, and even “how to deal with [US President Barack] Obama,” according to the new documents released by WikiLeaks.

One of the revelations was that the NSA bugged a private meeting between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which they discussed how to tackle climate change. The goal of the snooping, according to WikiLeaks’s press release, was to protect American oil interests.

“Today we showed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s private meetings over how to save the planet from climate change were bugged by a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies,” said WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange.

Assange added that the UN will most likely react to these leaks.

New Capability And Reach Of China’s Navy: Strategic And Tactical Implications In South China Sea And Indian Ocean Region – Analysis

By Commodore RS Vasan IN Retd*
FEBRUARY 23, 2016

The PLA-Navy continues to be in the news as China is determined to add to its growing maritime capability to build a blue water navy of form and substance. The addition of a new assets to the PLA on a regular basis provides a power projection capability not just within the confines of the South China Sea where it has territorial claims contested by other littorals in the region., but also in the in the Indian Ocean. The recent assertive maneuvers by the US Navy in consonance with the Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) has not been a source of comfort for China. Likewise, the efforts of Philippines to internationalise the South China Dispute by taking the case to ICJ has not endeared it to China which did not want any embarrassment.

China on its part in a process to consolidate its position , has engaged in assiduously reinforcing its claims over reefs and Islands with in the nine dash line by building artificial Islands by enormous dredging around the disputed rocks/reefs to reinforce its territorial claims. There is no surprise that these Islands today have Runways, military garrisons, communication networks and other support infrastructure to help China to mount a credible C4ISR structure using the developed Islands which will act as links and hubs. This will also extend the reach of the PLA Navy and Air force elements. It is only a matter of time before these Islands are converted in to full-fledged forward posts in South China Sea. The fact that it also declared Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) some three years ago in certain areas which were contested has only complicated the air situation and safety aspects.
Acquisition of Amphibious Vessels


FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Recent revelations demonstrate that U.S. efforts to prevent “reclamation, construction, and militarization” in the South China Sea have failed. The United States may “fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” but doing so will not deter China from altering the status quo. The current administration appears unwilling to accept the degree of risk required to deter Chinese revisionism, so U.S. leaders must now decide whether to acknowledge the new status quo or maintain the increasingly untenable line that returning to the status quo ante is possible.

Beijing’s South China Sea activities continue to make headlines, but the trend of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region is old news to most observers. Although some experts believe that Beijing will shift course and adopt a more cooperative stance in the South China Sea, most think that absent a change in U.S. strategy, China will continue expanding its maritime operations and capabilities. This assumption is the result of China’s methodical creation of layered anti-access and power projection postures moving southward from the Paracel Islands to the Spratly Islands. For example, in just the last few months, imagery has shown surface-to-air missiles in the Paracels and airfield construction in both the Paracels and Spratlys.

US-China Relations: In the Shadow of Conspiracy Theories

February 22, 2016

It is beyond any doubt that the established policy of the United States since the beginning of this century has been to treat China as its biggest imagined enemy, sparing no effort to disintegrate China so as to make it another former Soviet Union. Planning and implementing this war have enlisted the best and brightest from the Wall Street, the White House, the Pentagon, and hundreds of foundations. This project—unparalleled in human history—is a super strategy that aims to encircle China from five fronts, namely, military, diplomatic, political, economic, and cultural.

This is a paragraph from a lengthy online article sensationally entitled “The Campaign to Defend China: The Ultimate Battle in Human History Is Unfolding!” (“中国保卫战—人类历史的终极对决即将上演!”) The article came out a week ago and immediately went viral on WeChat, the most popular Chinese social media.

The nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula, according to the author, is merely “a seamless collusion between the United States and North Korea.” The author continues: “The United States needs the existence of North Korea, because this troublemaker provides excuses for encircling China; if North Korea is eliminated, then South Korea will unify the Korean peninsula, and China will be the biggest beneficiary.”

Meet the Chinese Air Force's New Drone-Tracking Unit

February 23, 2016

China’s Air Force has created a new unit dedicated solely to tracking and responding to drones, according to China Daily. In a press release, the PLA Air Force said the unit would focus on “small, slow-moving drones flying at an altitude of less than 1,000 meters,”China Daily reported.

The language in the report makes it seem as though military drones are the main target. The article mentions that the new unit has been practicing drills against drones used in “reconnaissance, infiltration, or strike operations.” It also notes that small drones, which are difficult to detect via radar, “can pose a substantial threat to key positions.” However, the specific focus on low-altitude, low-speed drones makes it more likely that the PLAAF unit will spend most of its time engaging with drones being operated by China’s own citizens.

The unveiling of the news unit comes as China mulls how best to control drone use by civilians, in the wake of several potentially dangerous incidents. In November 2015, a drone was discovered flying near a military airfield in Hebei Province without authorization. According to China Military Online, a PLAAF helicopter forced the drone to land and police confiscated it. In another incident, an unauthorized UAV flying near an airport in Zhejiang Province forced the airport to close for nearly an hour. China Military Online, without going into detail, also claimed that other unauthorized drone flights “have disturbed military flight training.” All of the drones involved in those cases were civilian: the UAVs in question “were owned by private companies, aviation enthusiasts as well as a few airlines,” CMO reports.

The Right Way to Sanction China

February 23, 2016
OVER THE LAST five years, the United States has struggled to influence Chinese behavior. Washington’s responses to Beijing’s increasingly assertive activities—ranging from economic espionage to artificial island construction—have been largely ineffective. Yet U.S. leaders are now considering a new option: economic sanctions. Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S.-Chinese economic relationship is “too big to fail” and that Washington therefore has little economic leverage with Beijing. Indeed, U.S. policymakers should be realistic that extensive sanctions against China would be unwise and infeasible. Nevertheless, certain limited, conduct-based sanctions may be able to shape Chinese behavior at an acceptable cost.

The surprising aspect of the debate in Washington over whether to sanction China is that it took so long to emerge; within the last decade, the United States has sanctioned every one of its major national-security concerns other than China. Iran, Russia, North Korea and terrorist groups have found themselves facing not only U.S. unilateral sanctions, but extensive international sanctions regimes. Acknowledging the need for more effective policy options, President Barack Obama issued an executive order providing the Treasury Department authority to sanction state and nonstate actors—including Chinese entities—engaging in malicious cyber activity. Last year, the administration threatened to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese persons in the lead up to President Xi’s state visit. Likewise, various presidential candidates have suggested that the United States impose sanctions against Chinese agencies or businesses involved in cyber attacks against economic targets.

"The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers in the Twenty-First Century: China’s Rise and the Fate of America’s Global Position"

A Chinese man holds a national flag during a protest outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing, Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

Journal Article, International Security, volume 40, issue 3, page 7–53

Winter 2015/16

Authors: Stephen Brooks, Former Fellow, International Security Program, 2003-2004, William Wohlforth, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security

Fears that China will soon displace the United States as the international system’s superpower are unwarranted. Unlike previous rising powers challenging leading states, China’s technological and military capabilities are much lower relative to those of the United States. Further, converting economic power into military might is far more difficult than it was in the past. Scholars and analysts need to go beyond the concepts of unipolarity and bipolarity and engage in fine-grained analysis of the distribution of power.

Sudden retreats don’t mean that ISIL is defeated

February 21, 2016

On Friday, Hasaka became the second Syrian province to be fully liberated from ISIL in two years, after Idlib around this time in 2014. According to local reports, the group’s withdrawal from its last stronghold in Hasaka was “swift and surprising”. This sudden defeat, which follows similar ones in recent months, raises questions about the group’s current capabilities.

ISIL’s loss of Shaddadi, its last outpost in Hasaka, is significant and symbolic. This was the town from where, in 2014, the group planned much of its effort to take or secure its control of Syrian territory. Jabhat Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, crumbled there after most of its fighters switched sides when Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi announced the formation of ISIL. The city was the planning centre for ISIL, and there were rumours that Mr Al Baghdadi had visited it a few times.

The defeat is also operationally remarkable. The group has now lost control over oilfields – about 200 small oil wells and major oilfields such as Jibisa and Kabibah – and critical areas that could potentially weaken its defences in Deir Ezzor, Raqqa and even Mosul.


FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Judging from the Islamic State’s propaganda, it would appear the group is rapidly overtaking the Muslim world. The Islamic State has declared wilayats (provinces) in ten countries spanning from Nigeria to the Caucasus region. It has executed high-profile attacks in several otherwise stable countries, including Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait, France, and the United States. The group has championed its victories and downplayed its defeats at every turn, portraying itself as a military behemoth destined to restore the caliphate to its former glory. In short, the Islamic State would like the world — and especially prospective recruits — to believe it is “remaining and expanding” (baqiya wa tatamaddad), a slogan that defines the group’s propaganda.

Yet in reality, between state security forces and rival jihadist groups, the Islamic State has encountered one serious obstacle after another as it has tried to expand its presence beyond Syria and Iraq. Several of its nascent affiliates met decisive defeat. In some places, the Islamic State has been its own worst enemy, as personality clashes and disagreements over strategy created deep cleavages.

U.S. Scrambling to Contain Growing ISIS Threat in Libya

Eric Schmitt
February 22, 2016

U.S. Scrambles to Contain Growing ISIS Threat in Libya

THIES, Senegal — The Islamic State’s branch in Libya is deepening its reach across a wide area of Africa, attracting new recruits from countries like Senegal that had been largely immune to the jihadist propaganda — and forcing the African authorities and their Western allies to increase efforts to combat the fast-moving threat.

The American airstrikes in northwestern Libya on Friday, which demolished an Islamic State training camp and were aimed at a top Tunisian operative, underscore the problem, Western officials said. The more than three dozen suspected Islamic State fighters killed in the bombing were recruited from Tunisia and other African countries, officials said, and were believed to be rehearsing an attack against Western targets. 

Even as American intelligence agencies say the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria has dropped to about 25,000 from a high of about 31,500, partly because of the United States-led air campaign there, the group’s ranks in Libya have roughly doubled in the same period, to about 6,500 fighters. More than a dozen American and allied officials spoke of their growing concern about the militant organization’s expanding reach from Libya and across Africa on rules of anonymity because the discussions involved intelligence and military planning.Photo
During training supervised by the United States military, Senegalese commandos practiced evacuating a wounded comrade. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Assessing ISIS’s Emergence as a Prime Threat in SAARC Countries

By Ramtanu Maitra
22 Feb , 2016

In recent days, the South Asian news media has been inundated with reports suggesting that terrorists aligned with the socalled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are emerging in some member nations of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India’s home minister Rajnath Singh went on record warning the Indian population that ISIS-led attacks cannot be ruled out in India in the future. Projecting a serious ISIS threat, one Indian analyst wrote: ‘Literature seized from the terrorists in West Bengal indicate that they were plotting to create an ISIS-like caliphate in parts of Bangladesh and then use this base to destabilize the whole of India’s northeast, especially parts of West Bengal and Assam where the demography has moved against the local populations.’1

From Bangladesh, a number of analysts have written about the growing ISIS presence among the known terrorists. An article published ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka last June suggested the existence of a link between Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JuM-B), a banned yet functioning terrorist group that is aided and partially funded from abroad, and ISIS. The article also claimed that there was growing concern about this development within the intelligence agencies in India and stated that the JuM-B and ISIS together would like (emphasis added) to establish a Bangladeshi caliphate.2

Isis: Israel is the only country terrorist group fears, says first Western journalist to survive 'Islamic State'

Jürgen Todenhöfer, who spent 10 days with the group in Mosul last year, said fighters were not intimidated by the US or UK 

Israeli Merkava tanks drive near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as they return from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave on August 5, 2014, AFP/Getty Images

Israel is the only country in the world that Isis fears, according to the first Western journalist to enter the group’s territories and survive.

Jürgen Todenhöfer spent 10 days in the so-called Islamic State last year, publishing his findings in a book.

In an interview with the Jewish News, the German reporter said Israel is not included in Isis’ planned “first stage” of colonisation in the Middle East.

Saudi Foreign Minister: 'I Don't Think World War III Is Going To Happen in Syria'

In an interview, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir expresses his continued support for regime change in Syria and his desire for rebels to be supplied with anti-aircraft missiles that could shift the balance of power in the war.

The wait for the interview with the minister takes six hours, but then he greets the journalists in a large conference room in a grand hotel in Munich. Adel al-Jubeir, 54, a slim, amiable man, wears a traditional robe and looks a bit fatigued. He and his counterparts spent the previous evening negotiating a cease-fire in Syria well into the night. And since early this morning, they have been busily discussing current global events. Al-Jubeir is the embodiment of a new breed of top Saudi Arabian leaders: He went to school in Germany and college in the United States and then served as the Saudi ambassador to Washington. In contrast to his longtime predecessor Prince Saud al-Faisal, who served as the country's top diplomat for decades stretching from the oil crisis in the 1970s until early 2015, al-Jubeir is not a member of the royal family. At the time of his appointment as foreign minister last April, Saudi Arabia had just gone to war with neighboring Yemen and the situation in Syria was escalating. Al-Jubeir is now responsible for representing his country's controversial foreign policy. And he allowed himself plenty of time to do so in this interview with SPIEGEL. When his staff sought to end the interview after 45 minutes because he had a speech to give at the Munich Security Conference, al-Jubeir suggested we continue the discussion in his limousine -- both on the way to his talk and back to the hotel afterward.

SPIEGEL: Mr. al-Jubeir, have you ever seen the Middle East in worse shape than it is in today?Al-Jubeir: The Middle East has gone through periods of turmoil before. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were revolutions. When monarchies were collapsing in a number of countries, we had radicals and we had Nasserism. Today it's a little bit more complicated.

Remembering 'People Power' in ASEAN

February 23, 2016

In recent years, the “Occupy” movements and “Arab Spring” came to symbolize popular actions for social change across the world. In Southeast Asia, the massive gathering of citizens against an unjust political order is more widely known as an expression and legacy of “People Power.”

The idea of People Power became a potent political force when it led to the ouster of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Many scholars believe that the Philippine brand of uprising – peaceful and spontaneous assembly of ordinary masses – inspired several democracy movements around the world. This trend also influenced the political tactics of opposition parties and grassroots organizations across the Southeast Asian region.

As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of dictatorship in the Philippines, it is also timely to review how the discourse of People Power has been appropriated in the region.

In 1988, two years after the successful use of People Power in the Philippines, Burmese students actively mobilized against the junta. The pro-democracy movement was quelled but it didn’t stop the opposition from clinching a victory in the polls two years later. However, the junta prevailed by ignoring the results. In 2007, the Saffron Revolution led by monks seriously challenged the military dictatorship.

The Problem Neither Obama Nor Bush Could Solve

February 23, 2016

THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL campaign is turning into a mirror of the 2008 race. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton seeks to distinguish herself from the policies of the sitting chief executive, while sundry Republican candidates maintain that Obama’s incompetence has made America less safe and diminished its position in the world. No one seeking to become Barack Obama’s successor is promising to continue his approach in foreign policy, just as, in 2008, no one ran on a platform of adopting the policies of the George W. Bush administration.

As much as Democratic partisans may resent the comparison, President Obama, entering the final stage of his second term, seems to be presiding over a foreign-affairs trajectory similar to the final years of the Bush administration. Obama’s tenure has been defined by a deterioration of the U.S. position in the international order; growing anti-American sentiment as reflected in public-opinion surveys around the globe; an increased willingness of rising and resurgent powers to challenge American presence abroad; and difficulty in assuring friends that Congress will honor the key agreements the President conducts with foreign leaders. These difficulties are fomenting profound unease among the American electorate about its future safety and prosperity. According to Republican foreign-policy practitioners, the Obama administration will leave office in a year’s time stymied by the same obstacles that bedeviled his predecessor’s administration: the inability to understand Russia’s position in a post–Cold War world without alienating American allies and the struggle to set Afghanistan and Iraq on sustainable paths to peace and stability. The challenges in those areas endanger in turn a third U.S. goal—pivoting towards East Asia. Democrats today no longer enjoy any advantage over Republicans in terms of competence in foreign policy or national security. The final quarter of the Obama presidency has eroded any of the gains made by Democrats over the past ten years in that area. This is quite an unexpected reversal of fortune.

The Wall Street Journal’s War on Donald Trump

February 23, 2016

As Donald Trump continues his Shermanesque march through the Republican primaries, the Wall Street Journal continues to fire relentless volleys of cheap shots, pot shots, and the paper’s much hoped for gut shot. Just consider last week’s run-up to what would be Trump’s resounding South Carolina victory.

Just days prior to the vote, the editorial page demanded Trump release his tax returns to call into question the true wealth of the undisputed billionaire. In a front page lead story, reporters also featured a cooked up poll claiming to show Trump falling behind Ted Cruz in a national poll.

This poll result was laughable on its face considering Cruz’s weak South Carolina showing. Cruz lost every single county, including those neck deep in evangelicals.

More broadly, the Journal has waged a relentless war on Trump’s promise to crack down on China’s currency manipulation. It has falsely called into question Trump’s clear understanding of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—which the Journal supports and Trump accurately describes as a horrible deal for American workers and domestic manufacturers.

George Kennan, Containment, and the West's Current Russia Problem

By Matthew Rojansky for NATO Defense College (NDC)

Containment has not been relegated to the dustbin of history, argues Matthew Rojansky. If anything, we’re in an era of “new containment” where the ambitions of a bellicose Russia need to be checked. Before Western leaders go too far, however, they should remember George Kennan’s subtle thoughts on the subject.

This paper was originally published by the NATO Defense College (NDC) on 25 January 2016.

At the core of the Western strategy for managing the Cold War, from the late 1940’s to the 1980’s, was an American-led policy of "containment" of Soviet power and influence. This containment policy, which is generally credited to U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan and his influential writings in the early Cold War period, diagnosed in Soviet foreign policy an expansionist undercurrent, which had the potential to threaten the foundations of economic prosperity and political stability on which vital Western interests depended. Accordingly, Kennan advised "a long­ term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies," not only in Europe, but globally.[1]

How Putin Is Surviving Lost Oil Revenue

FEB 22, 2016

In assessing Russian President Vladimir Putin's ability to stay in power and defy the West, one crucial question is how much longer his government's finances can stand extremely low oil prices. Judging from an analysis by economists at Deutsche Bank, he might be able to hold out longer than previously thought.

Russia is peculiarly sensitive to energy prices, in part because taxes from oil and gas comprise about half the country's budget revenues. Hence, after oil prices started plunging in 2014, some economists worried -- despite a rainy-day fund worth nearly $90 billion -- that the government could run out of money and be forced into severe austerity by the end of this year.

Since then, much has changed. A sharp drop in the exchange rate of the ruble has boosted the local-currency value of energy revenues. And Putin so far has managed to restrain spending without much effect on his popularity rating. As a result, Deutsche Bank economists estimate that the oil price required to balance the budget this year is about $66 a barrel, down from more than $103 in 2014. Here's how that looks:

What Will We Do If We Start Capturing Terrorists Instead of Killing Them Outright?

February 22, 2016

What to do if US begins capturing more suspected terrorists?

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has refused to send any suspected terrorists captured overseas to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. But if the U.S. starts seizing more militants in expanded military operations, where will they go, who will hold them and where will they be tried?

Those are questions that worry legal experts, lawmakers and others as U.S. special operations forces deploy in larger numbers to Iraq, Syria and, maybe soon, Libya, with the Islamic State group and affiliated organizations in their sights.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, suspects have been killed in drone strikes or raids, or captured and interrogated, sometimes aboard Navy ships. After that, they are either prosecuted in U.S. courts and military commissions or handed over to other nations.

This policy has been enough, experts say — at least for now.

“If you’re going to be doing counterterrorism operations that bring in detainees, you have to think through what you are going to do with them,” said Phillip Carter, former deputy assistant defense secretary for detainee policy. “If the U.S. is going to conduct large-scale combat operations or large-scale special ops and bring in more detainees, it needs a different solution.”

Former CIA Director Mike Hayden’s Defense of Drone Strikes

Micah Zenko
February 21, 2016

Evaluating Michael Hayden’s Defense of CIA Drone Strikes

An MQ-9 Reaper takes off on Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on December 5, 2015. 

Former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Gen. Michael Hayden has an op-ed in today’s New York Times: “To Keep America Safe, Embrace Drone Warfare.” The two-thousand-word piece provides some unique insights into the process by which CIA directors authorize—including over the phone—individual drone strikes and even order the specific munition to be used. Moreover, Hayden provides a more plausible and granular defense than those offered by other former CIA chiefs, including George Tenet, Leon Panetta, and Michael Morrell. He even makes some effort to engage directly with certain prominent criticisms of these lethal operations.

It should be acknowledged that it is difficult to evaluate Hayden’s op-ed, because he refers to intelligence reports that the American public will never see. Moreover, it is impossible to know whether everything Hayden wanted to reveal is included in the published Times piece, since the content of the op-ed must have been approved by the CIA Publications Review Board, whether as a stand-alone piece or an excerpt from his forthcoming book. Nevertheless, there are a few troubling aspects to the op-ed, which are consistent with all U.S. government officials’ arguments in support of drone strikes: how the program is framed and what complicating bits of information that are left out.

The Influence of the Movie “War Games” On Today’s Cyberwar Policy

Fred Kaplan
February 21, 2016

‘WarGames’ and Cybersecurity’s Debt to a Hollywood Hack

From left, Dabney Coleman, Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy in “WarGames” (1983). The film led to the nation’s first directive about computer security. CreditMGM

Movies rarely influence public policy, but Washington’s policies on cyberattacks, computer surveillance and the possibility of cyberwarfare were directly influenced by the 1983 box-office hit “WarGames.”

The film — starring Matthew Broderick as a tech-whiz teenager who unwittingly hacks into the computer of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and nearly sets off World War III — opened nationwide that June 3. The next night, President Ronald Reagan watched it at Camp David. And that is where this strange story — culled from interviews with participants and Reagan Library documents — begins.

The following Wednesday, back in the White House, Reagan met with his national-security advisers and 16 members of Congress to discuss forthcoming nuclear arms talks with the Russians. But he still seemed focused on the movie.