23 May 2016

*** The Post-Imperial Moment

Robert D. Kaplan
April 22, 2016
IN 1935, the anti-Nazi writer and Austrian-Jewish intellectual Joseph Roth published a story, “The Bust of the Emperor,” about an elderly count at the chaotic fringe of the former Habsburg Empire who refused to think of himself as a Pole or an Italian, even though his ancestry encompassed both. In his mind, the only mark of “true nobility” was to be “a man above nationality,” in the Habsburg tradition. “My old home, the Monarchy, alone,” the count says, “was a great mansion with many doors and many chambers, for every condition of men.” Indeed, the horrors of twentieth-century Europe, Roth wrote presciently, had as their backdrop the collapse of empires and the rise of uniethnic states, with Fascist and Communist leaders replacing the power of traditional monarchs.

Empire had its evils, as Roth himself details in another great work, The Radetzky March, but one cannot deny empire’s historical function—to provide stability and order to vast tracts of land occupied by different peoples, particularly in Europe. If not empire, what then? In fact, as Michael Lind has intuited, the underpinnings of the global order today attempt to replace the functions of empire—from the rules-based international system to the raft of supranational and multinational groupings, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the International Court of Justice and the World Economic Forum. Silently undergirding this process since World War II has been the undeniable fact of American power—military, diplomatic and economic—protecting sea lanes, maritime choke points, access to hydrocarbons and, in general, providing some measure of security to the world. These tasks are amoral to the extent that they do not involve lofty principles, but without them there is no possibility for moral action anywhere. This is not traditional imperialism, which is no longer an option, but it is a far more humane replacement for it.

While the United States still remains the single strongest power on earth, it is less and less an overwhelming one. The diffusion of central authority in new democracies everywhere, the spread of chaos in the Middle East and North Africa, and the rise of Russia, China and Iran as regional hegemons—all work to constrain the projection of American power. This is part of a process that has been going on for a century. At the end of World War I, multiethnic empires in Europe—those of the Habsburgs and Ottomans—crumbled. At the end of World War II, the overseas empires of the British and French began to do the same. The end of the Cold War heralded the collapse of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe and parts of Eurasia. The early twenty-first century saw the toppling or erosion of strongmen in postimperial, artificial states like Iraq, Syria and Libya. The American empire-of-sorts—that is, the last power standing whose troops and diplomats have found themselves in a vaguely empire-like situation—is now giving way, too.

India’s Nuclear Doctrine Does Not Need Revision Yet

May 18, 2016
By Lt Gen Philip Campose
India’s nuclear doctrine, which was articulated some twelve years back, has withstood the test of time, in terms of successfully deterring nuclear adventurism by our Western neighbour and also effectively backing up our conventional deterrence and war fighting strategies. Nonetheless, there are many in the strategic community in India and abroad who feel that it is time for some changes to be instituted, in keeping with the need to make it more realistic and less provocative. On the other hand, there are many who feel that, fundamentally, the doctrine symbolizes restraint due to its basic tenet of ‘no first use’, and thus there is no real need for change, considering that the doctrine has served us well so far and likely to continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Thus, it is time to examine whether a 15 year review of the existing doctrine is warranted, so that, if required, the process for the review can start at the earliest.
India’s nuclear doctrine is unique in that it caters specifically to India’s threat perspective in both the conventional and nuclear realm. To understand this, one has to go into some history. It needs to be understood that India’s plan for developing nuclear weapons was an outcome of the military reverses at the hands of China in the Himalayan War of December 1962. The inherent weaknesses in our military capabilities, that became embarrassingly evident during that war, made our political leadership of the day decide to develop nuclear weapon capability as a means to deter China, which was not only stronger in the conventional military realm, but had also developed nuclear capability. However, a dangerous fallout of India’s quest was that, predictably, it led to Pakistan wanting to do the same. It also incentivized China to provide guidance and assistance to its South Asian proxy, Pakistan, to develop a nuclear capability for itself, a practice that continues even to this day. Thus, by the time India developed its nuclear weapons, Pakistan had already developed nuclear weapon capability, some ten years earlier, in full view of the international community.

Conduct of nuclear tests by India in May 1998 not only signalled India’s strategic deterrence against its Himalayan neighbour but also helped bring the Pakistani nuclear weapons out of the closet. But, as was brought out clearly by India’s Defence Minister Shri George Fernandes at that time, India’s nuclear weapons were for defensive purpose, primarily meant for deterrence against the Northern adversary, who enjoyed the conventional military edge, who had developed a formidable nuclear arsenal by then. On the other hand, Pakistan’s primary motivations and intent for development of nuclear weapons were never in any doubt – the weapons were clearly meant for targeting against India. Of course, it is another matter that, somewhere down the line, Pakistan also started promoting its nuclear capability as an ‘Islamic bomb’ in an effort to gain brownie points among the Muslim nations, and possibly, make them contribute financially towards the rising costs of Pakistan’s growing arsenal. In this context, there are no prizes for guessing as to which country Pakistan’s Shaheen III MRBM is likely to be targeted against!
What followed the Pokharan tests of May 1998 was a very deliberate process by India, as a responsible nuclear power, to develop a nuclear doctrine. Draft doctrines prepared by various sources were evaluated before the government enunciated a doctrine in January 2003, nearly five years after the Pokharan tests. The essential features of India’s nuclear doctrine are: credible minimum deterrence by means of a triad, civilian control, no attack against a non-nuclear state, no first use, and massive retaliation in case of a nuclear, chemical or biological attack.

*** Watch Out, China — U.S. and Indian Militaries Develop Closer Ties Washington and New Delhi approach a landmark military cooperation agreement

Washington and New Delhi are getting a lot more serious about military-to-military ties. As the United States and India become more wary of an increasingly assertive China, the two countries are gradually edging closer together.
On May 16, American and Indian officials met for a “maritime security dialogue” in New Delhi. “The dialogue covered issues of mutual interest, including exchange of perspectives on maritime security development in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region as well as prospects for further strengthening cooperation between India and the United States in this regard,” stated an Indian Ministry of External Affairs press release.
Washington and New Delhi are also close to formalizing a historic military cooperation agreement hazily called the “Logistics Support Agreement” — or LSA. The agreement would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repairs and conducting operations.
American and Indian officials agreed to hold the summit during an April visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Despite regular meetings and joint military training, the United States and India are not allies in any formal sense. India was officially unaligned in the Cold War but kept close relations with the Soviet Union — and the United States backed arch-rival Pakistan.
But there is a slow yet historic realignment underway. First of all, the United States and India are both growing warier of China’s rise as a major regional military power. Second, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has deteriorated during the course of America’s decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan is the world’s top recipient of Chinese weapons.
In an April profile in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that U.S. Pres. Barack Obama “privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all.”
Then there’s the LSA, which — if signed — could enhance cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries to an unprecedented level.

Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, told Congress in February that America and India are negotiating the LSA, another agreement called the CISMOA that would allow secure communications when both militaries operate together, and a third agreement regarding the exchange of topographical, nautical and aeronautical data.
“We have not gotten to the point of signing them with India, but I think we’re close,” Harris told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
During the last few months, the proposed agreements has come closer to being a reality. “Secretary Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a logistics exchange memorandum of agreement in the coming months,” Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said during Carter’s April visit.
These developments build on previous moves between the Indian and U.S. governments. In 2012, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directed Carter — at the time his deputy — to head an initiative to widen the scope of mil-to-mil cooperation between the two counties. The result was the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

** China's Worst Nightmare: Is a U.S.- India Military Alliance Brewing?

Kevin Knodell
May 20, 2016
Washington and New Delhi are getting a lot more serious about military-to-military ties. As the United States and India become more wary of an increasingly assertive China, the two countries are gradually edging closer together.
On May 16, American and Indian officials met for a “maritime security dialogue” in New Delhi. “The dialogue covered issues of mutual interest, including exchange of perspectives on maritime security development in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region as well as prospects for further strengthening cooperation between India and the United States in this regard,” stated an Indian Ministry of External Affairs press release.
Washington and New Delhi are also close to formalizing a historic military cooperation agreement hazily called the “Logistics Support Agreement” — or LSA. The agreement would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repairs and conducting operations.
American and Indian officials agreed to hold the summit during an April visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Despite regular meetings and joint military training, the United States and India are not allies in any formal sense. India was officially unaligned in the Cold War but kept close relations with the Soviet Union — and the United States backed arch-rival Pakistan.

But there is a slow yet historic realignment underway. First of all, the United States and India are both growing warier of China’s rise as a major regional military power. Second, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has deteriorated during the course of America’s decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan is the world’s top recipient of Chinese weapons.
In an April profile in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that U.S. Pres. Barack Obama “privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all.”
Then there’s the LSA, which — if signed — could enhance cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries to an unprecedented level.
Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, told Congress in February that America and India are negotiating the LSA, another agreement called the CISMOA that would allow secure communications when both militaries operate together, and a third agreement regarding the exchange of topographical, nautical and aeronautical data.
“We have not gotten to the point of signing them with India, but I think we’re close,” Harris told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

*** Defeating the Islamic State: Advice from Sun Tzu

By Ronald Tiersky, May 20, 2016
Anti-Islamic State coalition military operations are underway. Their goal is to liberate the cities of Mosul, Raqqa, and Fallujah, as well as all ISIS-entrenched positions on the Euphrates River, beginning west of Baghdad and heading north all the way to Raqqa and beyond, to Syria’s border with Turkey. Since the Islamic State is fanatically committed to a single jihadist principle -- either victory or death (“martyrdom”), and a scorched-earth policy in retreat, any strategy to defeat and dismantle their so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq requires thinking outside usual frameworks.
American leaders sometimes say, in effect, ‘we don’t understand ISIS at all, it’s a totally new phenomenon.’ To the extent that this is true, it is at best a half-truth. ISIS is made up of two parts: the caliphate, and an always-changing transnational network of terrorists and local military forces.
Strategic priority is to destroy the caliphate. From the beginning, the jihadist organization’s goal has been to restore Islam’s power and religious prestige in world affairs by creating a new global theocratic institution. That credibility and prestige is what has attracted tens of thousands of fighters from more than 100 countries. The initial fanaticism has faded, but thousands in Syria and Iraq remain committed. The caliphate could, in fact, be destroyed militarily in a few weeks if major coalition powers were not so committed to limiting civilian casualties and the devastation of cities and infrastructure. As things are, it might be totally defeated and dismantled in a year or two, with the hardest struggles being to liberate the major cities that require siege and surgical attack. The Islamic State’s loose transnational network of terrorist operations will survive the demise of the caliphate. Diligently tracking down the forces of jihadism will take years, until the impulse to violent jihad finally burns itself out.

The Art of War Against ISIS
Ancient Chinese warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu’s slim treatise, “The Art of War,” has been read in military colleges for over two millennia. Immensely influential, its laconic considerations on how to prevail in war provide modern strategists with unexpected points of view.
The key to victory, writes Sun Tzu, is that “[y]ou should take away the energy of their armies, and take away the heart of their generals … When you do battle, it is necessary to kill people, so it is best to win without fighting.
“The best policy is to use strategy, influence, and the trend of events to cause the adversary to submit willingly…Therefore those who win every battle are not really skillful -- those who render others’ armies helpless without fighting are the best of all…” The translator, Thomas Cleary, says “the paradox of ‘The Art of War’ is its opposition to war. And as ‘The Art of War’ wars against war, it does so by its own principles; it infiltrates the enemy’s lines, uncovers the enemy’s secrets, and changes the hearts of the enemy’s troops.”
Sun Tzu is of course speaking philosophically, and not as an actual policymaker. It’s not a matter of giving battle plans and a scorecard to decide what victory “really” consists of. Sun Tzu’s main point is that war is first of all a matter of strategy, meaning intelligent conception, preparation, and execution -- plus luck. The important thing is to be able to think anew in every situation, not to automatically use a previously successful strategy, i.e., to fight the last war. Reconfiguring a country’s military with new strategy and weaponry adapted to new situations is the essence.

Is winning without fighting ever possible? There are many examples. Arraying for battle and intimidating an enemy into surrendering was a classic case: Alexander the Great and innumerable conquerors after him massed before a city and demanded surrender, promising annihilation to the recalcitrant. Forcing appeasement -- Hitler’s success at Munich with Britain and France -- is a modern example. If the best victory is to win without fighting through massing force, exploitation of psychological factors, and maneuver, second-best is surely to limit the damage as much as possible. Surrender or appeasement is sometimes a rational policy, rather than cowardice, when opposition is hopeless. In the modern world of human rights aspirations, making war with some emphasis on moral calculation adds that if war is necessary, as a last resort, a so-called just war is best, with its concern for morally adequate goals and methods of fighting, as opposed to an amoral “realist” war for national interest.

What is the situation in the war on ISIS? Government and military officials are rightly prudent in what they say. When things are going badly it’s useful to talk about ‘tactical retreat.’ When things are going well it’s useful to play down how well things are going. The war against the Islamic State turned in favor of coalition forces late last year. Right now it’s probably going better than the public is being told. An outsider such as this writer can be provocative: In spite of several spectacular terrorist bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere, the Islamic State’s situation in the Middle East looks grim. Possibly fewer than 20,000 or even 15,000 fighters with a decimated leadership structure are hunkered down in defensive occupation positions over a large territory, essentially waiting to be attacked and killed.
Only specialists remember the frighteningly plausible map issued two years ago revealing ISIS’s ambition to conquer most of the Middle East, Eurasia, and North Africa, or its plan to overthrow the House of Saud and incite internecine war in Muslim countries. The likelihood of such events unfolding has abated to zero, and even the mediatized individual and mass beheadings no longer keep international opinion awake at night.

* China’s Road & Belt Initiative: Indian Perspective

Jayadeva Ranade

China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’, which was first proposed in September 2013 and combines the twin initiatives of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is a grand concept that envisions China girdling the globe. Potentially covering 55 percent of the world GNP, 70 percent of the global population, and 75 percent of known energy reserves, it is essentially a plan for a China-built land and sea transportation artery to link China’s production centres with markets and natural resource centres around the world. At the same time it will harness much of China’s hitherto idle economy, manpower and infrastructure-technology reserves to get much needed returns. It has the potential to bend borders and alter the status quo in China’s neighbourhood – as it already has begun to do in South Asia – and adversely impacts India directly. The initiative blends geopolitical and diplomatic objectives and has a strong domestic agenda.
The proposed “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) is an approximately US$ 1.4 trillion project. China claims to be willing to make a huge financial commitment upwards of US$ 300 billion in infrastructure financing for the project in the coming years, though some multilateral and bilateral pledges may overlap. Underscoring China’s commitment, the official China Daily reported on May 28, 2015 that Beijing plans to invest US$ 900 billion. The OBOR is planned to be completed over 35 years, in time for the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049!

The ‘Belt Corridors’ run along the major Eurasian Land Bridges, through China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central and West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar. The Maritime Silk Route or “Road” is the maritime equivalent of the ‘Belt Corridors’ and comprises a network of planned ports and other coastal infrastructure projects that dot the map from South and Southeast Asia to East Africa and the northern Mediterranean Sea.
The most publicised recent bilateral commitment to OBOR was the investment pledged for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by Xi Jinping during his two-day visit to Pakistan in April 2015. Pakistani analysts have valued it at US$ 46 billion. Deals valued at a further US$ 15.7 billion were subsequently signed in Belarus that May. More might have been signed during Xi Jinping’s visits to Kazakhstan and Russia on the same trip. Discussions are known to be underway with Russia on overland transport, energy, and cyber-connectivity. Concrete data in respect of OBOR-related agreements is, however, not easily available in published Chinese sources.

India's 10 sinking banks

May 20, 2016
Rising bad loans continued to haunt public sector banks (PSBs) in the March 2016 quarter.
As they complied with the Reserve Bank of India's recent asset quality review, their provisioning for this surged sharply.
Nine of the 19 PSBs that have announced quarterly results so far witnessed a two-four times year-on-year jump in their provisioning.
Syndicate Bank, Allahabad Bank and Bank of Baroda occupied the top three slots on this front.
Of the rest, nine banks saw a one-two times rise in provisions.

Consequently, 10 banks reported a net loss versus a net profit in the March 2015 quarter, with Punjab National Bank posting the highest-ever loss by an Indian bank.
The combined gross non-performing assets of these banks now stands at Rs 2,91,984 crore.
With State Bank of India declaring results next week, this figure could rise.
The weak provision coverage ratio of these banks (between 48 and 62 per cent) reflects their inability to absorb any more stress.

Amid subdued credit offtake and possibility of further asset quality woes, the health of these banks is likely to remain critical.

** India: One State, Many Countries

May 19, 2016 As the rest of Eurasia slides further into crisis, the only thing getting in India’s way is India.
By Jacob L. Shapiro
India deployed four ships, including two stealth frigates and one guided missile corvette, into the South China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean, where they will remain for two and a half months, according to a statement released yesterday by the Press Information Bureau of India. The statement said that the Indian ships will participate in the annual Malabar exercises with the Japanese and U.S. navies and will make port calls in Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Malaysia. Meanwhile, Apple Inc.’s CEO Tim Cook arrived in Mumbai today. At the end of his five-day trip, Cook is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the surface, these seem like impressive developments. From a military perspective, the ship deployments suggest India is feeling confident enough in its abilities to send warships into one of the most contested seascapes in the world. From an economic perspective, Apple, fresh off its first drop in quarterly sales in 13 years, may be looking at India as a possible solution for a 26 percent decline year over year in revenue in China. This seems to indicate that India may be well placed to take advantage of the exporter’s crisis. India is in a good strategic position today, but that doesn’t mean we should indulge in delusions of grandeur. The fundamental issues that have always held India back are still there – and they won’t be dissipating in the near future.

The activities of the Indian navy have been on our radar for a few months now. In March, the U.S. military announced that this year’s Malabar exercises would be held in part in the Philippine Sea – not technically within the South China Sea, but certainly close enough to attract Beijing’s attention. India, however, did not want to antagonize China too much. Just over a week after the U.S. military announcement, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar publicly denied that India had any intention to take part in joint patrols of the South China Sea with the navies of Japan, Australia and the U.S. India also sent a warship to participate in joint exercises of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations in the South China Sea, which China participated in as well.
The fact that India has announced that it is deploying four ships into the South China Sea is then a rather striking move, made all the more noticeable by China’s conspicuous absence from the port call schedule. The last time India sent ships into the South China Sea was in 2012, but there was a scheduled port call in Shanghai in that deployment. (China also dispatched People’s Liberation Army navy ships to escort India’s ships out of the South China Sea after they left the Philippines for South Korea during that deployment). China has not yet officially responded to the Indian announcement. In fact, yesterday a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Beijing was looking forward to hosting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on an upcoming visit from May 24 to May 27.

India is not interested in making an enemy out of China, and besides, the Himalayas stand as an impassable barrier that precludes the potential for real war between the two countries. However, India also doesn’t want to be a pushover, and has other interests that require it to show some strength in the Indo-Pacific. For one thing, with Russia weakening, India may be interested in aligning more closely with the United States. Military gestures such as these, which carry relatively miniscule levels of risk but sound impressive, can help signal cooperation with the U.S. without any real cost. On the flip side, hamstrung as India is by domestic issues, if it is to expand its regional influence, it can only do so by sea. On all other sides, India is hemmed in either by geographic barriers or mortal enemies. So this naval deployment is a low-risk gesture that makes India look good without changing the fundamental power balance.

The Swedes have handed India an irresistible offer

May 20, 2016
Swedish defence major Saab has unveiled its next generation fighter aircraft, Gripen E, which the company said is being offered to the country under the 'Make in India' initiative with transfer of technology.
Gripen E, which was unveiled on Wednesday, has significantly improved avionics system when compared to previous versions of the Gripen.
The capability to carry more weapons and improved range performance, is possible with a more powerful engine and the ability to carry more fuel, the company said.
"The Gripen E is a specific configuration of Gripen NG that has been chosen by the Swedish customer. The exact configuration for another customer such as India will depend on discussions with that customer. But yes, we are offering the next generation Gripen to India, under 'Make In India' with transfer of technology," Jan Widerstrom, Country Head and Chairman, Saab India Technologies Private Limited said.
Gripen E is equipped with a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite including an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, Infra Red Search and Track, Electronic Warfare suite and datalink technology, which, when combined gives the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.
The sixth variant of the Gripen line, the first of which entered active service in 1997, the Gripen E carries on with the basic design of a lightweight, agile multi-role fighter with a fast-turnaround time and the ability to operate from small airfields or even motorways. It's designed for low maintenance and a service life of 50 years. In addition, it has very flexible hardware and avionics, plus a large number of hardpoints designed to carry almost any weapon in the current inventory.
The Gripen E retains the delta wing and canard configuration, but differs from previous versions in that it has more fuel capacity, a General Electric F414G jet engine for 20 percent more thrust, more pylons, and increased takeoff weight. It also has in-flight refueling capability and is NATO compatible.

Five nations currently operate Gripen: Sweden, South Africa, CzechRepublic, Hungary and Thailand. Brazil has ordered Gripen, and it has also been downselected in Slovakia. Besides that, Empire Test Pilots' School uses Gripen as platform for test pilot training.
In 2019, deliveries of the next generation Gripen for Sweden and Brazil will begin.
Saab, which had lost out in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft tender in 2011 which was won by French firm Dassault Aviation, anticipates that the Indian Air Force will need more the 36 Rafale fighter jets that it is buying from France to beef up its depleting fleet.
The company has not only offered to set up a base here but also help in the development of aerospace capability for the next 100 years. It has also offered to partner in developing the next version of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, being developed and designed by Aeronautical Development Agency.

Antibiotics When the drugs don’t work How to combat the dangerous rise of antibiotic resistance

May 21st 2016 |
SOME people describe Darwinian evolution as “only a theory”. Try explaining that to the friends and relatives of the 700,000 people killed each year by drug-resistant infections. Resistance to antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics and antimalarials, is caused by the survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, fit microbes mean unfit human beings. Drug-resistance is not only one of the clearest examples of evolution in action, it is also the one with the biggest immediate human cost. And it is getting worse. Stretching today’s trends out to 2050, the 700,000 deaths could reach 10m.
Cynics might be forgiven for thinking that they have heard this argument before. People have fretted about resistance since antibiotics began being used in large quantities during the late 1940s. Their conclusion that bacterial diseases might again become epidemic as a result has proved false and will remain so. That is because the decline of common 19th-century infections such as tuberculosis and cholera was thanks to better housing, drains and clean water, not penicillin.
The real danger is more subtle—but grave nonetheless. The fact that improvements in public health like those the Victorians pioneered should eventually drive down tuberculosis rates in India hardly makes up for the loss of 60,000 newborn children every year to drug-resistant infections. Wherever there is endemic infection, there is resistance to its treatment. This is true in the rich world, too. Drug-resistant versions of organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus are increasing the risk of post-operative infection. The day could come when elective surgery is unwise and organ transplants, which stop rejection with immunosuppression, are downright dangerous. Imagine that everyone in the tropics was vulnerable once again to malaria and that every pin prick could lead to a fatal infection. It is old diseases, not new ones, that need to be feared.

Common failings
The spread of resistance is an example of the tragedy of the commons; the costs of what is being lost are not seen by the people who are responsible. You keep cattle? Add antibiotics to their feed to enhance growth. The cost in terms of increased resistance is borne by society as a whole. You have a sore throat? Take antibiotics in case it is bacterial. If it is viral, and hence untreatable by drugs, no harm done—except to someone else who later catches a resistant infection.
The lack of an incentive to do the right thing is hard to correct. In some health-care systems, doctors are rewarded for writing prescriptions. Patients suffer no immediate harm when they neglect to complete drug courses after their symptoms have cleared up, leaving the most drug-resistant bugs alive. Because many people mistakenly believe that human beings, not bacteria, develop resistance, they do not realise that they are doing anything wrong.
If you cannot easily change behaviour, can you create new drugs instead? Perversely, the market fails here, too. Doctors want to save the best drugs for the hardest cases that are resistant to everything else. It makes no sense to prescribe an expensive patented medicine for the sniffles when something that costs cents will do the job.

Nepal's Pivot to China May Be Too Late

Hannah E. Haegeland
May 20, 2016
Nepal’s constitutional crisis in the winter of 2015 and spring of 2016 prompted protesting parties to enforce an economic blockade in the Terai region on the Nepali-Indian border. Protesting Nepali groups included ethnic minorities that feel underrepresented in the new federalist system. Unofficial political support from India enabled the protests to last four-and-a-half months, debilitating the already weakened Nepali economy and creating a humanitarian crisis. Citing Indian government complicity in the embargo, Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli reached out to Beijing for help, prompting cries of a Nepali pivot to China. While some shifting towards China does seem to be underway, Nepal will always require good relations with its longtime partner India. The real story in Nepal is a possible internal security disaster that would go against Nepali, Indian, and Chinese interests.

Between Two Giants
A fresh outbreak of protests this week highlights the urgency of Nepal’s ongoing constitutional crisis. A resurgence of violence in the next year is possible, perhaps at a greater scale than the episodes of police and protester violence during the blockade that resulted in over 50 deaths. This would be devastating for a country still reeling from a 2015 earthquake that killed close to 9,000 people, followed by a crippling economic blockade and rising ethnic tensions.
On the subcontinent, India and China vie for influence, while lesser powers like Nepal navigate geopolitics by currying favor with their great state neighbors. A rapid uptick in China-Nepal relations threatens to shake up foreign relations in South Asia. Ultimately, though, both Indian and Chinese goals for the region are served best by promoting political stability and economic growth in Nepal. Emerging from this constitutional crisis intact will require Nepal’s leaders to walk a tightrope between two giants.

Pivot to China?
Recent weeks have involved a sharp uptake in diplomatic and economic developments in China-Nepal relations. The momentum began with a joint statement during Nepali Prime Minister Oli’s visit to Beijing at the end of March. When I was in Kathmandu during the first week of May, the city was ignited with news that the government was to fall and Oli to resign. Analysts believe the abrupt reversal of Nepal’s Maoist leadership that prevented this change, keeping the Oli-led government in power, was due to Chinese intervention.
Building on those developments, on May 15th, Nepal and China completed laying an optical fiber to Kathmandu, creating a direct link “to Hong Kong Data Centre which is one of the two biggest global data centres in Asia.” Two days later, the Chinese Minister for State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, Cai Fuchao visited Oli’s residence and the two made statements about growth in Nepal-China relations. China also just inaugurated the first transport service to Nepal, a rail-bus, 10-day journey from Lanzhou to Kathmandu. And a joint Nepal-China researcher team has begun hydrocarbon (petroleum and natural gas) exploration in Nepal. While Chinese economic expansion in the region is progressing in stages, the China correspondent for India Today suggests that, “the speed with which relations are being transformed will likely come as a surprise to New Delhi.”

*** My “top ten” books every student of International Relations should read

A summer reading list.
By Stephen M. Walt, April 9, 2009
Last week Tom Ricks offered us his “Top Ten list” of books any student of military history should read. The FP staff asked me to follow suit with some of my favorites from the world of international politics and foreign policy. What follows aren’t necessarily the books I’d put on a graduate syllabus; instead, here are ten books that either had a big influence on my thinking, were a pleasure to read, or are of enduring value for someone trying to make sense of contemporary world politics. But I’ve just scratched the surface here, so I invite readers to contribute their own suggestions.

1). Kenneth Waltz, Man, the State, and War.
 An all-time classic, which I first read as a college sophomore. Not only did M, S & W provide an enduring typology of different theories of war (i.e., locating them either in the nature of man, the characteristics of states, or the anarchic international system), but Waltz offers incisive critiques of these three “images” (aka “levels of analysis.”) Finding out that this book began life as Waltz’s doctoral dissertation was a humbling moment in my own graduate career.

2). Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Combines biology and macro-history in a compelling fashion, explaining why small differences in climate, population, agronomy, and the like turned out to have far-reaching effects on the evolution of human societies and the long-term balance of power. An exhilarating read.

3). Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence.

He’s a Nobel Prize winner now, so one expects a lot of smart ideas. Some of Schelling’s ideas do not seem to have worked well in practice (cf. Robert Pape’s Bombing to Win and Wallace Thies’s When Governments Collide) but more than anyone else, Schelling taught us all to think about military affairs in a genuinely strategic fashion. (The essays found in Schelling’s Strategy of Conflict are more technical but equally insightful). And if only more scholars wrote as well.

4). James Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.

This isn’t really a book about international relations, but it’s a fascinating exploration of the origins of great human follies (like Prussian “scientific forestry” or Stalinist collectivized agriculture). Scott pins the blame for these grotesque man-made disasters on centralized political authority (i.e., the absence of dissent) and “totalistic” ideologies that sought to impose uniformity and order in the name of some dubious pseudo-scientific blueprint. And it’s a book that aspiring “nation-builders” and liberal interventionists should read as an antidote to their own ambitions. Reading Scott’s work (to include his Weapons of the Weak and Domination and the Arts of Resistance) provided the intellectual launching pad for my book Taming American Power).

5). David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

Stayed up all night reading this compelling account of a great national tragedy, and learned not to assume that the people in charge knew what they were doing. Still relevant today, no?

6). Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics.

I read this while tending bar at the Stanford Faculty Club in 1977 (the Stanford faculty weren’t big drinkers so I had a lot of free time). Arguably still the best single guide to the ways that psychology can inform our understanding of world politics. Among other things, it convinced that I would never know as much history as Jervis does. I was right.

7). John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.

Why do bad things happen to good peoples? Why do “good states” do lots of bad things? Mearsheimer tells you. Clearly written, controversial, and depressingly persuasive.

8). Ernst Gellner, Nations and Nationalism.

The state is the dominant political form in the world today, and nationalism remains a powerful political force. This book will help you understand where it came from and why it endures.

9). Henry A. Kissinger, White House Years & Years of Upheaval.

Memoirs should always be read with a skeptical eye, and Kissinger’s are no exception. But if you want some idea of what it is like to run a great power’s foreign policy, this is a powerfully argued and often revealing account. And Kissinger’s portraits of his colleagues and counterparts are often candid and full of insights. Just don’t take it at face value.

10). Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation.

Where did the modern world come from, and what are the political, economic, and social changes that it wrought? Polanyi doesn’t answer every question, but he’s a good place to start.

So that’s ten, but I can’t resist tossing in a few others in passing: Geoffrey Blainey The Causes of War; Douglas North, Structure and Change in Economic History; Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer, Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population; Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations; Steve Coll, Ghost Wars; T.C.W. Blanning, The Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars; R. R. Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution; Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World; Stephen Van Evera, Causes of War; Samuel Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies; Tony Smith, The Problem of Imperlalism; and Philip Knightley’s The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth-Maker. And as I said, this just scratches the surface.

So what did I miss? Keep the bar high.

(And for those of you who don’t have time to read books, I’ll start working on a “top ten” list of articles).
PS.  I sincerely request Think Tank wallahs to procure these books, if they are not already there,

Return of Gold Standard: Why Soros is Buying the Precious Metal

Demand for gold has jumped almost 21 percent in the first quarter of 2016, causing some to question whether paper money is doomed and if the gold standard is due for a comeback.
In their latest Liberty Report, former US Republican congressman Dr. Ron Paul and American political analyst Daniel McAdams focused their attention on the fact that the idea of reviving the gold standard has recently caught its second wind.
Although the US financial establishment has repeatedly attacked gold, claiming that it "is not money," the price of the precious metal has made leaps and bounds over the past sixteen years, soaring from $300 per ounce in the early 2000s to more than $1,400 an ounce.
The former congressman stressed that "it is just utterly silly to say [gold] is just a commodity, and not special, no difference, and therefore it would only hurt people because how would it preserve the financial market." "If gold is money and history is correct — it's been around for six thousand years — gold wins out," Dr. Paul, who has been a torch-bearer for gold since the early 1970's, remarked.
There is yet another reason to return to the gold standard, according to the former Republican congressman.

"[Gold] truly is a special type of commodity and special money… I think that reason why they [US financial establishment] attack gold is gold is the restraining force [it has] on government. If you have an honest gold standard, you will restrain government — government spending, government debt, government special interests, the welfare state, the warfare state — because they can't print the money… Anyone who understands anything about monetary policy understands you just cannot create money out of thin air endlessly and think it will maintain value," Paul underscored.
The experts emphasized that "the Federal Reserve and its fiat currency policy is literally the lifeblood of the warfare state." A century ago, US paper currency could be freely exchanged for gold at a guaranteed rate set by the government; this concept was known as the gold standard. From 1933 until 1971, the dollar was theoretically backed by gold, but only foreign governments could exchange US dollars for gold and private citizens couldn't buy bullion for speculative purposes. However, since 1971, the price of gold has been allowed to float and the US government doesn't back the 'fiat' money it prints with precious metal.

If the Fed's endless money printing is suspended and limited by some sort of commodity-backed currency, the "warfare state," the omnipotent military industrial complex and influential Wall Street bankers will lose a big deal of their power, Paul claims.

China's Coming Revolution

Growing tension within the regime, economic turmoil and a more energetic public.
Gordon G. Chang, May 21, 2016
The Chinese are anxious.
The fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has spurred concern that China is heading into another decade of chaos and madness or perhaps a period leading to regime failure.
Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic, triggered “ten years of catastrophe” on May 16, 1966. The campaign started as a ploy to rid himself of political adversaries. By the time it ended with his death in September 1976, however, society had torn itself apart and about a million people had either been killed or taken their own lives.
China, despite the passage of decades, has yet to heal. As Zhang Lifan, the outspoken Beijing-based commentator, notes, “The residual impact still poisons the country.”
And as Zhang Qianfan of Peking University says, “Without fully accounting for that tragic episode, the country can never come to terms with its past and will always live in lingering uncertainty: Would the similar tragedy come back again, in some other forms?”
The Communist Party, speaking through the authoritative People’s Daily this month, affirmed the verdict it rendered in 1981 by terming the Cultural Revolution “a complete mistake in both theory and practice.” The ruling organization’s essay was an attempt to close the door to a full airing, failing, for instance, to mention Mao’s involvement. The Party knows better than to expose its inherent failings and therefore undermine its legitimacy to rule.

Yet the attempt to end discussion has not worked in a noisy—and sometimes defiant—society, so conversation in China this year turned to the issue of whether there will be another Cultural Revolution. Xi Jinping, the current ruler, has stoked the concerns by continually wrapping himself in themes from the Maoist era. “Our red nation will never change color,” he declared in the middle of 2013, just before dedicating an exhibition that praised Mao and ignored his great crimes. Xi, in words and sometimes in deeds, embraces the man who had launched a decade of hysteria and frenzy.
As much as Comrade Jinping may fancy himself as this century’s version of the Great Helmsman, he will not start “large-scale political violence manipulated and launched from the top down,” the description of the Cultural Revolution by Liang Jing, a former official who has left China for a life of exile. Yet as Liang notes, turmoil in his former homeland in the future is not out of the question.
On the contrary, China looks like it is entering another period of extreme political instability. The Cultural Revolution, marked by the killings of high-level officials, has been followed by an era of relative calm brought about by Deng Xiaoping, who grabbed power from Mao’s designated successor, the hapless Hua Guofeng. Among other things, the canny Deng lowered the cost of losing political struggles, thereby reducing the incentive for cadres to fight to the end and tear the Communist Party apart.

Steaming Ahead, Course Uncertain: China’s Military Shipbuilding Industry


Andrew S. Erickson
May 19, 2016
In recent years, China’s navy has been launching new ships like dumping dumplings [into soup broth].” This phrase has circulated widely via Chinese media sources and websites. Accompanying it are ever-more-impressive analyses and photographs, most recently of China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, now under construction in Dalian. The driving force behind all this, China’s shipbuilding industry, has grown more rapidly than any other in modern history.
One of this century’s most significant events, China’s maritime transformation is already making waves. Still, however, China’s course and its implications—including at sea—remain highly uncertain, triggering intense speculation and concern from many quarters and in many directions. Beijing has largely met its goal of becoming the world’s largest shipbuilder. Yet progress remains uneven, with military shipbuilding leading overall but with significant weakness in propulsion and electronics for military and civilian applications alike. It has thus never been more important to assess what quality and quantity of ships is China able to supply its navy and other maritime forces with, today and in the future. Somewhat surprisingly, however, there has been insufficient attention to this topic, particularly from a U.S. Navy (USN) perspective.
To bridge that gap, a diverse group of some of the world’s leading sailors, scholars, analysts, industry experts, and other professionals convened at the Naval War College (NWC) on 19-20 May 2015 for a two-day conference on “China’s Naval Shipbuilding: Progress and Challenges.” Hosted by NWC’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI), it was cosponsored with the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), which will publish the resulting edited volume early next year.

CMSI was formally established on 1 October 2006. Its research and analysis of China’s maritime capabilities helps to inform USN leadership and supports NWC in its core mission area of helping to define the future Navy. The annual CMSI conference is a principal function of the Institute, supporting focused examination of the full range of Chinese maritime developments.
This conference, the tenth in a series, focused on a topic of great interest to USN leaders: China’s naval shipbuilding industry. “Shipbuilding” includes construction of new vessels, the repair and modification of existing ones, and the production and repair of shipboard and associated equipment. Paper presenters, discussants, and other attendees analyzed China’s shipbuilding capacity in order to deepen understanding of the relative trajectories of Chinese and American naval shipbuilding and possible corresponding challenges and responses for the USN. The overarching questions, of paramount importance to USN and other observers, included:

- What are China’s prospects for success in key areas of naval shipbuilding?

- What are the likely results for China’s navy?

- What are the implications for the USN?

What ISIS Women Want

Western women who join the Islamic State aren’t victims who've been groomed or seduced by men. They’re committed jihadis in their own right.
By Simon Cottee, May 17, 2016
What do Western women who join Islamic State want? One prominent theory is what these women “really” want is to get laid. Another is that they don’t know what they “really” want, because what they want has been decided for them by male jihadi “groomers.” Both theories are meant to resolve a seeming paradox: How can any woman who enjoys democratic rights and equality before the law join or support a group which actively promotes her own oppression? But both are misconceived. Indeed, they say more about the gendered assumptions of those who proffer them than about the women they are trying to explain.
The idea that Western Islamic State “fangirls” — as they are often derogatively called — “just wanna have fun” (to paraphrase Cindy Lauper) is the thesis of, among others, Shazia Mirza, a British comedian whose latest show is called “The Kardashians Made Me Do It.” The show’s title references a comment made by one of the sisters of the three East London schoolgirls who absconded to Syria in February 2015. “She used to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians and stuff like that, so there was nothing that indicated that she was radicalized in any way — not at home,” Sahima Begum said about her missing sister, Shamima. This gives Mirza’s show its central theme, which is that the Western girls who join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, share the same banal and all-too-human concerns as their non-jihadi Western peers —including, and especially, when it comes to love. Mirza’s argument is that the Islamic State, for teens like Begum, is just another teenage crush. Indeed, the Islamic State, she suggests, is like a boy band — only with guns.
“I’m not being frivolous,” Mirza said in a recent TV interview, “but, these ISIS men, as barbaric as they are, you have to admit, they are hot. They’re macho; they’re hairy; they’ve got guns. And these girls think, ‘These are a bit of all right.’ What they’ve done is sold their mother’s jewelry and bought a one-way ticket to Syria for some halal meat.” Or as Mirza phrased it in her 2015 Edinburgh show, referring to the three East London runaways: “They think they’ve gone on a Club 18-30 holiday to Ibiza.… They’re not religious; they’re horny.”

This is funny — and Mirza, after all, is a comedian. But it isn’t serious as a commentary on the motives of the Western women who have joined, or aspire to join, the Islamic State. Yet many news organizations have taken up the idea as though it were. Earlier this year, for example, CNN ran a news story titled “ISIS using ‘jihotties’ to recruit brides for fighters.” This was only slightly more cretinous than a BBC Newsnight report from March 2015 proclaiming, “Attractive jihadists can lure UK girls to extremism.”
Another way of not taking Islamic State “fangirls” seriously is to suggest that they have been “groomed” over the Internet by shadowy, charismatic men into believing that the Islamic State is the solution to all their problems. In March 2015, Hayley Richardson wrote in Newsweek that militant fighters “are using similar online grooming tactics to paedophiles to lure western girls to their cause.” Sara Khan, the founder and co-director of the anti-extremism NGO Inspire, echoed this. “Just like child abusers groom their victims online and persuade them to leave their homes and meet them,” she claimed in the Independent, “male jihadists contact women through social media and online chatrooms, and build trust with them over time.”

* The Meaning of Jihadist Silence on the EgyptAir Crash

May 21, 2016 |

As the investigation into the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 continues and searchers begin to find evidence, the jihadist world has been strangely silent. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft early May 19 and we are now nearly outside the timeframe in which jihadist groups have ordinarily taken credit for attacks. The one obvious explanation for this is that a catastrophic mechanical or electrical failure brought down the aircraft rather than a bomb, but given all of the indications that point to an attack, it is worth exploring the lack of a claim of responsibility and what that means for attributing the cause of the crash.
The primary jihadist actors with the capability and willingness to bring down Flight 804, the Islamic State and al Qaeda, both have sophisticated public relations and media outlets that they can use to quickly claim responsibility for attacks. Looking back to the last air disaster, Russian MetroJet Flight 9268, which went down over the Sinai Peninsula in 2015, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack the same day. Islamic State also claimed other recent attacks in Brussels, Jakarta and Paris within a day. Similarly, al Qaeda affiliates behind the series of attacks against West African hotels claimed those the same or the following day. The San Bernardino attackers attributed their actions to Islamic State just before carrying them out, but it took the group's central media arm three days to praise the attack — likely because it was conducted by a grassroots jihadist acting in their name.

Judging by the pattern of previous claims, if the Islamic State, al Qaeda or a regional affiliate were behind this attack, we would have expected to see a claim of responsibility by now. The lack of a claim, however, does not rule out terrorism in the EgyptAir incident. The Islamic State and al Qaeda are most powerful when it comes to their ideology and their propaganda is more useful at inspiring grassroots jihadists to conduct their own attacks than in providing quality instruction on how to carry out an attack. If this were a grassroots attack, carried out independently by a cell in France, Tunisia or Eritrea (all locations where the aircraft had been over the 24-hour period before it crashed), then jihadist leaders and their media wings would be scrambling along with the rest of us to figure out what happened. As in the San Bernardino attack, it might take a few days for the jihadist propaganda arms to formulate a response.
The more sinister but less likely explanation is that a terrorist group has figured out a novel way to attack aircraft and is concealing its involvement in order to replicate the attack elsewhere. We saw this kind of covert activity in the 1995 Bojinka plot. The bombing of Philippines Airlines Flight 434 in December 1994 was not claimed because the planners hoped to use an improved version of the same device in a larger attack targeting 10 trans-Pacific airliners.

While authorities were quick to respond to the 2001 shoe bomb and the 2009 underwear bombs, if those devices had functioned as designed and destroyed the aircraft (especially over water), it may have taken months or years for investigators to determine the cause. This would have given the bombers a large window to replicate it. In a worst-case scenario, we may have a competent bombmaker on the loose with knowledge of how to get a bomb onto a plane, and the authorities have no idea what method he is using.
The fact that Egypt Air Flight 804 went down over water makes the investigation much more difficult than past investigations over land — some of which took years to solve, like Pan Am Flight 103. It has been over two years since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared and investigators have only recently even recovered portions of the aircraft — much less determined the cause. Air France Flight 447 similarly crashed over the Atlantic in 2009. It took over three years to determine that technical problems caused that crash, plenty of time for terrorist to replicate tactics had it been an attack. Flight 804's crash site is much closer to land and not subject to the same currents that have wreaked havoc on the MH370 investigation. Still, the crash occurred in waters that can be up to a mile deep, making recovery of debris or the black box on the seafloor very complicated.