1 June 2016

The Hiroshima touchstone

June 1, 2016

The centre of gravity of today’s nuclear world is shifting to the Asia-Pacific. The number of nuclear players has grown, and asymmetry in doctrines and arsenals makes the search for security more elusive

On May 27, Barack Obama became the first serving American President to visit Hiroshima, 71 years after nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon visited Hiroshima in 1964, four years before he won the presidential election, and Jimmy Carter had visited in 1984, three and a half years after he left the White House. Mr. Obama’s historic visit will go down as part of his nuclear legacy, which remains a mixed one. Though the visit took place when he has no more elections to fight, it was nevertheless an act of political conviction reflecting his deep disdain for the “Washington playbook”.

Obama’s nuclear legacy

Since the fateful decision by U.S. President Harry Truman in 1945 to use the nuclear bomb, none of Mr. Obama’s predecessors has been willing to court the inevitable controversies that would surround a presidential visit. The most significant was the question of an “apology” which the Obama administration laid to rest early on by making clear that there would be no revisiting the 1945 decision, and, consequently, no apology. Yet, the symbolism of the imperative for moral reflection was very apparent, both in President Obama’s speech and his gesture of meeting the hibakushas (atomic bomb survivors).

*** Pakistan’s Jihadist Heartland: Southern Punjab

Asia Report N°27930 May 2016

Southern Punjab must be central to any sustainable effort to counter jihadist violence within and beyond Pakistan’s borders, given the presence of militant groups with local, regional and transnational links and an endless source of recruits, including through large madrasa and mosque networks. The region hosts two of Pakistan’s most radical Deobandi groups, Jaish-e-Mohammed, held responsible by India for the 2 January 2016 attack on its Pathankot airbase; and the sectarian Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which was at least complicit in, if not solely responsible for, the 27 March Easter Sunday attack that killed more than 70 in Lahore. To reverse the jihadist tide, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s federal and Punjab province governments will have to both end the climate of impunity that allows these groups to operate freely and address political alienation resulting from other governance failures these groups tap into.

Southern Punjab was once known for a tolerant society, but over the past few decades, state support for jihadist proxies, financial support from foreign, particularly Saudi and other Gulf countries, combined with an explosive mix of political, socio-economic, and geostrategic factors, has enabled jihadist expansion there. Bordering on insurgency-hit and lawless regions of the country and also sharing a border with India, it has long provided a convenient base where these outfits can recruit, train and plan and conduct terror attacks. Although jihadist groups still harbour a fringe minority in a region where the vast majority follows a more tolerant, syncretic form of Islam, their ability to operate freely is largely the result of the state’s policy choices, particularly long reliance on jihadist proxies to promote perceived national security interests. The absence of rule-of-law, combined with political dysfunction and inept governance, also allows these organisations to exercise influence disproportionate to their size and social roots.

*** Our Strategic Culture

By Lt Gen SC Sardeshpande
31 May , 2016

An article by a senior army officer on “Strengthening Our Strategic Culture” in an eminent weekly recently, lands one in confusion as the article rolls national unity, national education, accountability, national productivity, value-based conduct, nation building eco-system, national strategic culture and a lot of rhetoric all into one amorphous mix. One sorely misses a studied, cogitative, analytical examination and presentation of our strategic culture in a dispassionate assessment.

The strategic grasp of India’s political leadership at independence was weak, narrow, often indifferent. Pre-eminence of the idea of democratic rule and the idea of civil authority being supreme, the military advise was relegated, kept away.

National strategic culture, a socio-politico-psychological legacy bestowed by history to the people, distinguishes them, based on their character, thinking and life style, with particular reference to defending themselves and asserting their way of life and thoughts among other polities and societies.

Its two dominant facts can be said to be
security evoked by nationalistic spirit (that includes people’s thinking, philosophy, aspiration, attitude, socio-cultural tradition and their glue of togetherness);
territorial security, which in turn concerns with
security outside the national border along outlying area (friendly/ inimical/ neutral/ weak/ strong/ susceptible/ sensitive)
security of the border itself – border security – which affects the border area population; and
security within the country –internal security.

*** Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Moral Necessity

By George Friedman 
May 26, 2016 

Focusing only on casualty numbers ignores the broader context behind the decision to drop the bombs.

U.S. President Barack Obama will be visiting Hiroshima on Friday, the first sitting American president to do so since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city 71 years ago. Hiroshima is flourishing today, but was destroyed by the United States’ use of the first atomic bomb deployed in war. In 1945, it was generally understood that the bombings of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9 had forced the Japanese surrender, ending a period of war for Japan that began in 1931 with the invasion of China. For most of the world, the end of World War II led to jubilation. 

At the time, the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were noted, but weren’t particularly striking. Somewhere between 50 million and 80 million people had died in the war in total and the entire world was numbed by the sheer magnitude of the human catastrophe. It was not surprising, therefore, that most people rejoiced at the end of the war, and saw the deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a small price to pay. Besides, even the lower casualty estimates were too big to grasp at the time.

But as time went on, the numbness wore off and selectivity grew. Hiroshima and Nagasaki became symbolic remnants of the global holocaust. Increasingly, they came to symbolize a wanton indifference to life and unnecessary murder. 

There were two reasons Hiroshima and Nagasaki emerged as the symbols of utter callousness. First, the attacks were carried out by atomic bombs and over time nuclear weapons were viewed as uniquely vicious. In 1945, few understood what an atomic bomb was, and as its meaning penetrated global consciousness, its use was seen as uniquely immoral. About 100,000 people died in the firebombing of Tokyo in the summer of 1945, but that was conducted over several days and didn’t involve atomic bombs. Somehow, a single bomb dropped from a single plane was more terrifying than thousands of bombs dropped from thousands of planes – even though both resulted in approximately an equal number of deaths. In other words, the near instant death of tens of thousands is seen as more worthy of condemnation than the slow slaughter of millions over several years of war.  

*** This is How a Bloody U.S.-China War Could Start

May 28, 2016 

A cyber clash escalates to real war.

Editor's note: The following is a translation of Chapter 14 of the book If the U.S.and China Go to War《假如中美开战》 by the author and analyst Chen Pokong. The current volume was published in Chinese in 2013 and was later translated to Japanese.

The chapter sketches the hypothetical beginnings of a conflict scenario between the United States and China. In it, the U.S. responds to provocative Chinese cyberattacks by launching one of its own, tearing down the Great Firewall. In response, Chinese authorities clamp down Internet access completely, which America quickly responds to. Ultimately, regime-organized street violence endangers the lives of American consular staff, and U.S.-China relations quickly descend from the current modus vivendi to outright hostilities.

While both the United States and China can be expected to avoid going to war, it’s by no means difficult to imagine a scenario in which such a war might break out. Let’s consider such a development from the perspective of a young Chinese computer technician named Xiaolu:

After returning home from work one Friday evening, Xiaolu follows his usual practice of turning on his home computer and preparing to access his favorite overseas websites through proxies that will help him break through the Chinese government’s internet firewall. To his great surprise, he finds himself able to freely browse the Voice of America website without a proxy. He tries the BBC Chinese-language website, and then Radio Free Asia, Epoch Times, Boxun, the Chinese-language websites of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. . . surfing all of them with ease, he wonders if there’s some bizarre fluke in the system. He quickly telephones a friend and tells him to give it a try, and the friend reports the same experience. Overjoyed, Xiaolu contacts all of his friends and tells them to log onto the internet as fast as they can.

*** 3D printing goes to war

May 1, 2016 

A Tornado aircraft has already flown with 3D -printed Parts (Credit: BAE Systems) View gallery (18 images)

From the bow to the bunker buster to the hydrogen bomb, new technologies have changed the face of warfare, and 3D printing looks set to be just as revolutionary. It's been around since the 1980s, but as key patents expire and access to the technology becomes more readily available, its effects on the military promise to be considerable – though the biggest and most immediate impact may be from a surprisingly humble quarter. 

Mention 3D printing and it's likely to conjure up images of wonky key fobs brought home as trophies from middle school science projects. But the ability to print solid objects in three dimensions (also known as additive manufacturing) is more than just squirting out molten plastic under the direction of a CAD file. Modern printers can now handle metals, wood, fabric, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, and even living cells with not only greater precision than ever before, but also in combination with one another in complex patterns that simply cannot be matched by conventional techniques.

*** 7 States. 6 Days. 2,148 km and a journey of a lifetime

May 30, 2016 

When Rediff.com's Archana Masih and Rajesh Karkera set course from the foothills of the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea, they could not think of a better place to begin their journey than the stately campus that has given India some of its greatest military heroes.

IMAGE: Gentlemen Cadets who will graduate on June 11: Left to right: Bharat Sethi, Nishant Philip, Anirudh Joshi, Prashant Mishra, Rajendra Singh Bisht.

Day 1: The Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

Their pictures line the walls, their statues grace its grounds, and every soldier who passes by, stops to salute their sacrifice at the quiet war memorial by the gate.

I don't know why, but looking at those military heroes and walking those grounds reminded me of what Winston Churchill once told a Victoria Cross winner who had come to see him during World War II.

'You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence,' Churchill said.

'Yes, sir,' replied the soldier.

'Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours,' Churchill replied.

What Churchill said is exactly what one feels at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. The sacrifice of its men is so supreme that it makes one think about the insignificance of one's own life.

*** Shanghai 1937: This Is China’s Forgotten Stalingrad

May 30, 2016 

In the summer of 1937, the “Pearl of the Orient” became a slaughterhouse. A million Chinese and Japanese soldiers engaged in savage urban combat in China’s coastal city of Shanghai.

Before the battle, Shanghai had been a thriving metropolis bustling with Western traders and missionaries, Chinese gangsters, workers and peasants and Japanese soldiers and businessmen.

As many as 300,000 people died in the epic three-month struggle that pitted China’s best divisions against Japanese marines, tank, naval gunfire and aircraft.

Yet even in China, few people remember the Battle of Shanghai, says Peter Harmsen, author of Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze. The clash receded beneath another horrific memory: the Rape of Nanking.

Shanghai “was one of 22 major battles of the Sino-Japanese War that are listed in official Chinese historiography,” Harmsen told War is Boring in an email. “Many Chinese have heard about the individual battles, but it’s mainly just specialists and military history buffs who actually remember when exactly they took place—and how and why.”

It was an unfortunate confluence of forces that brought war to Shanghai in August 1937. China and Japan had been in limited conflict since 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria in search of empire and raw materials. In 1937, Japan seized Beijing after the Marco Polo Bridge incident.

*** The remarkable rise of India’s think tanks


The Humayun Tomb in Delhi: Delhi is home to the majority of India's Think Tanks
The number of think tanks feeding into India’s public debates is expanding fast. Alexandra Katz explores the rapid advances and the growing pains of this emerging policy machine

The USA is famous for the burgeoning ecosystem of lobby groups, campaigning bodies and policy networks feeding off Washington DC’s Capitol Hill, so it’s no surprise that America houses more think tanks than any other country: some 1,835, according to research by the University of Pennsylvania. The second largest number are based in the world’s most populous country: China has 435, Pennsylvania’s researchers found. And third in this list is the UK, whose 288 think tanks sit alongside a robust media, highly active voluntary sector and powerful higher education institutes within a thriving and long-established public discourse.

The UK is set to be knocked off its third-place perch, however, as the country placed fourth has 280 think tanks – and that number has grown by 30% in just two years. Its identity may surprise European and American politicians, but it shouldn’t; for India is, of course, the world’s biggest democracy as well as its second most populous nation.

Pennsylvania’s Global Go To Think Tank Index Report 2015, published earlier this year, includes a list of the world’s top 175 think tanks – and here too the Indians make a respectable showing, with the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) ranked at 79; the Institute For Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) coming in 104th; the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) ranking 109th; the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) placed 111th; the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) at 118th and Development Alternatives at 136th. Others were also praised for strong track records on research, including the Vivekananda Institute of Technology, Gateway House, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

The role of think tanks

*** Stratfor: A Small Blow to the Taliban, a Big Blow to US-Pakistani Trust

Summary: The hit on Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was another short term tactical win in our long war, achieved (like so many others) at a high cost to our long-term strategic position. It’s why we’ve fought the long war since 9/11 with most bad results. Here Stratfor looks at the details of this successful assassination, and predicts its small fruits. This is a follow-up to Another assassination of a jihadist leader. Here’s what comes next…

The late John Boyd (Colonel, USAF) said that grand strategy focused a nation’s actions to increase its solidarity and internal cohesion, weaken opponents’ resolve and internal cohesion, strengthen relationships with allies’ and attract uncommitted states — to end conflicts on favorable terms without sowing seeds for future conflicts. (From “Patterns of Conflict”, slide 139).

A Blow to the Taliban and to U.S.-Pakistani Trust
Stratfor, 24 May 2016

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has fluctuated between tenuous cooperation and rampant discord. During the Cold War, Washington strengthened ties with Islamabad, doling out more than $3 billion in aid to Pakistan to arm the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. After a period of relative inactivity between the nations during the 1990s, the 9/11 attacks prompted Washington to reinvigorate ties with Islamabad once again. On Monday, the current state of the relationship between the two nations was put to the test when U.S. President Barack Obama announced that a drone strike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

*** The Changing Security Structure in the Middle East

A Speech to the International Symposium on International Relations and Security at the Turkish War College May 26, 2016

There is nothing new about change in the security structure of the Middle East and North Africa, nor is it new that many key changes seemingly come without warning. The challenge today, however, is not to examine the past but to focus on the future, and here I have been asked to give a keynote speech that addresses four different sets of future trends.

How changes to the global security system will affect the Middle East, 

How the changes taking place in terrorism affect security and the regional military balance, 
The nature of the changes taking place in the structure of terrorist organizations and behavior, 

And finally, how the impacts of terrorism and new forms of conflict have affected new forms of security problems like the flow of refugees. A keynote speech should both help set the framework for its conference and be at least mildly provocative. As a result, I am going to try to address these issues in ways that present a challenge to conventional wisdom. I also am going to talk about the Middle East as if Turkey was on its edge of it and not simply part of it. This is to some extent an artificial choice, but it allows me to avoid lecturing Turks on Turkey, and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

Changes to the Global Security System Let me begin with the changes to the global security system. There is a tendency to treat these changes in terms of the emergence of China and the reemergence of Russia, and as either a return to the geopolitics of the past or some new form of Cold War. I would suggest that the U.S., Europe, Russia, and China all have security interests in the region, and their respective levels of influence will change over time. These interests, however, are limited: no outside power can dominate the region, and the competing forces within the region will dominate its future – as they do its present.

** Saudi Oil Policy Is Set In Stone


-- this post authored by Matthew Bey

Next week, OPEC will hold its first meeting since talks on freezing production between the bloc's major producers and their non-OPEC peers fell apart in April. The June 2 convention will also mark the first time OPEC members have come together in Vienna since Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi stepped down, making way for Khalid al-Falih to take his place.

Both events have raised questions about what direction Riyadh's oil policies will take in the months ahead, and how they will affect the kingdom's relationships with its fellow producers.

By all accounts, Saudi Arabia seems prepared to move forward with its original plan to protect its share of the global oil market, allowing concerns about low oil prices to take a backseat. Deviation, at this point, is not really an option; Riyadh's strategy has firmly committed the kingdom to riding out fluctuations in the market over the next five years. Saudi Arabia will have no choice, then, but to redouble its efforts to dramatically restructure its economy away from excessive spending and an overreliance on energy revenues. But whether the House of Saud will be able to get the country's younger generations on board with what is likely to be a painful economic adjustment remains to be seen.
A Painful but Logical Strategy

** Future Missions Through the Lens of the US Army Operating Concept

May 29, 2016

Future Missions Through the Lens of the US Army Operating Concept

A Small Wars Journal discussion with Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster by Octavian Manea.

Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster is Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and Deputy Commanding General, Futures, US Army Training and Doctrine Command. He served previously as Commanding General, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning from June 2012 to July 2014. From 2010 to 2012, he commanded Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Shafafiyat (Transparency) in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He holds a PhD in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of “Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam”.

We’ve seen recently the major strategic challenges (mainly high-end adversaries) driving the DoD 2017 budget. From the perspective of the US Army Operating Concept what are the most relevant trends we need to keep in mind that are most likely to contribute to shaping and changing the character of armed conflict?

As we try to understand the problem of future armed conflict we consider four main areas that exhibit both continuities in the nature of war and changes in the character of warfare. We make grounded projections into the future by first considering potential threats, enemies, and adversaries in future operating environments. We consider threats emerging from nation-states as well as non-state actors and so-called hybrid enemies that are non-state actors that enjoy state support.

** America’s Expectation versus India’s Expediency: India as a Regional Net Security Provider

This article was originally posted at India’s National Maritime Foundation. It is republished on CIMSEC with the author’s permission. Read the piece in its original form here.

During the ‘Raisina Dialogue’ held in March 2016 at New Delhi, Admiral Harry Harris, the Commander of United States (US) Pacific Command (USPACOM) referred to the first ever tri-lateral (Australia, Japan and India) [i] ministerial discussions held in September 2015. ADM Harris’ comments addressed “maritime security – including freedom of navigation patrols,” and proposed “expanding this tri-lateral to a quadrilateral venue” by involving the US.[ii] Later, while addressing questions, the crux of his message was that the high level of ‘inter-operability’ achieved during complex India-US Malabar exercises should not be an end into itself, but translated into “coordinated operations.”[iii] Admiral Harris’ answers suggested– albeit implicitly –that India undertake ‘coordinated freedom of navigation patrols’ in the South China Sea (SCS). Evidently, such patrols could be used to restrain China’s growing military assertiveness in the SCS, and its process of legal “norm-building” in the maritime-territorial disputes with the other littoral countries of the SCS.

* Why ISIS Remains a Threat

10 min read 

Challenging the Islamic State’s Powerful Appeal

Despite a net loss of territory in Iraq and Syria since January 2016, the Islamic State carried out complex attacks in Brusselsand the Philippines and inspired other attacks in Turkey andAsia during the same months. The successful attacks suggest that the Islamic State’s ability to threaten U.S. interests will likely outlast its control of significant swaths of territory. Mitigating the long-term threat of the Islamic State will thus require more than its military defeat on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq.

The United States must challenge the Islamic State’s powerful messages even as its territory recedes. Understanding how the Islamic State portrays its struggle for Syria can offer insights on how to challenge its survival by addressing its core appeal to constituents.

An analysis of 134 Twitter posts from January 1-31, 2016, all allegedly originating from within Syria, revealed four broad themes of the Islamic State’s information campaign. 
Strength of its military (victory, targeting, advanced weapons built in the caliphate, spoils gained) 

A prosperous place (pictures of nature, orderly streets, filled markets) 
Piety in the actions of the people of the caliphate (mercy, justice, prayer, distribution of literature, educating youth, dying for God) 

Battle against God’s enemies (Nusayris, a derogatory term for the regime’s Alawite sect; apostate Kurds; Awakening [Sunni] apostates; reports of watchmen on the frontiers of the caliphate-protecting the faith itself) 

Occurrence of Each Theme Across 134 Tweet

* Here's how the US military is beating hackers at their own game

May 24, 2016

There's an unseen world war that has been fought for years with no clear battle lines, few rules of engagement, and no end in sight.

But it's not a shooting war; not a war where combatants have been killed or wounded — at least not yet.

It's a war that pits nations against each other for dominance in cyberspace, and the United States, like other nations employing professional hackers as "cyber soldiers," sees it as a battlefield just like any other.

“It’s like an operational domain: Sea, land, air, space, and cyber," Charlie Stadtlander, chief spokesperson for US Army Cyber Command, told Tech Insider. "It’s a place where our presence exists. Cyber is a normal part of military operations and needs to be considered as such.”

As US military leaders warn of the growing progress of Russia, China, and North Korea in cyberspace, the Pentagon has ramped up its own efforts in what it calls the "cyber domain" after the release of a new cyber strategy in April 2015.

"This ephemeral space that's all around us, literally, is a space where operations can be performed against us," Frank Pound, a program manager who leads DARPA's "Plan X" cyber warfare platform, told Tech Insider. "And how do we defend against that? How do we detect that?"
Building a cyber army 

Rebalancing with India

By Sarosh Bana
31 May , 2016

In a demonstration of its operational reach and commitment to the ‘Look East-Act East’ policy, a formidable armada of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet steamed out of its base at Visakhapatnam on 18 May for a two-and-a-half month-long deployment to the highly sensitive South China Sea and its littoral.

The South China Sea has emerged as a flashpoint in the Asia-Pacific, with China’s claims of sovereignty over almost the entire South China and East China seas, thus sparking disputes with its neighbours such as Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Indian Navy affirms that, in addition to showing the Flag in this “region of vital strategic importance to India”, its Eastern Fleet squadron will participate in the trilateral maritime exercise of Malabar-16 with the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force during its deployment. The squadron will also make port calls at Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam, Subic Bay in the Philippines, Sasebo in Japan, Busan in South Korea, Port Klang in Malaysia, and Vladivostok in Russia. The deployment comprises the indigenously built guided missile stealth frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, fleet support ship INS Shakti, and an indigenous guided missile corvette, INS Kirch. These ships will also conduct PASSEX (passing exercise) with each of the host navies, the aim being to strengthen bilateral ties and enhance naval inter-operability.

China’s military posturing challenges the United States, which has been a Pacific power for more than two centuries ever since its Corps of Discovery sailed down the Columbia River to the Pacific Northwest in 1805. Today, the US Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) area of responsibility (AOR) covers more of the globe than any of the other five geographic combatant commands of the US. Its AOR oversees US Forces Korea, US Forces Japan, US Special Operations Command Pacific, US Pacific Fleet, US Marine Forces Pacific, US Pacific Air Forces and US Army Pacific. USPACOM pronounces that with the US’s allies and partners, it stands “committed to enhancing stability in the Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and, when necessary, fighting to win.”

With connectivity comes growth

India’s neighbours are not waiting for it to take a leadership role in leveraging connectivity for influence 

A decade ago, voices from India spoke about how “one billion people can’t be ignored”. It was presumed that India’s demographic size, nuclear arsenal and role as a potential counterweight to China would translate into economic importance and a seat on the United Nations Security Council. But by and large, global strategic currents continued to bypass India until something more important than demographics and military arsenals happened: India got connected.

The paramount measure of power in the 21st century is connectivity, specifically to global infrastructure networks, trade flows, capital markets and the digital economy. India is now getting connected in each of these arenas and is thus taken much more seriously as a long-term pillar of the global system.

After decades of perpetual hostility with Pakistan, a window has emerged for bilateral relations to focus more on connectivity than the tortured historical pattern of division. India and Pakistan should move forward with the Most Favoured Nation trade agreement, Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline from Iran, and even by revitalizing and upgrading the railway connections between Delhi and Lahore, and Karachi and Mumbai. The ancient Grand Trunk (GT) Road from Kabul to Kolkata should be actively resurrected as a Central to South-East Asian trade artery which will enable Indian commercial leadership across this high-growth region in ways traditional moribund groups such as South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation never could.

Adrift in the Valley

May 30, 2016

From the beginning of the year, Kashmir has been facing its gravest crisis since 2008 and 2010. Neither Delhi nor Srinagar appears to be equipped to effectively deal with it

News emanating out of Kashmir over the past few months should be a matter of utmost concern. Delhi and Srinagar, but for different reasons, seem to be unwilling to admit to the gravity of the situation that is developing in the Valley. However, if those in power at the Centre and in the State fail to heed the lessons of history, merely hoping against hope that things will settle down, it could be a costly mistake. 

Those familiar with Kashmir’s history would be aware that violence in Jammu and Kashmir generally tends to come in “waves”. Since the late 1980s, there have been at least four such distinct “waves”. Each wave had its own characteristics, but the common thread was opposition to “rule” from Delhi. The metaphors may change — sometimes the demand is for “azadi”, at other times it is for “greater autonomy”. The tactics might differ, but alienation has been a semi-permanent theme. The degree of alienation tends to vary, depending on the extent of the distance between Srinagar and Delhi. 

Viewed through the same prism

Accustomed to periodic outbursts of “anti-India sentiment” in the Valley, the tendency in Delhi has generally been to see all these agitations as similar in nature. This ignores both ground realities and the region’s history of violence and turbulence. There have been periods in Kashmir’s recent history when the State appeared to be on the brink, and only deft handling helped retrieve the situation. 

Indian railways website was hacked by a Pakistani: How do you fight a silent cyber war?

Indian railways website was hacked by a Pakistani: How do you fight a silent cyber war?
One minute a person could be solving algebraic equations as part of their homework, the other they could be hacking into a foreign government’s website.

Gone are the days when wars took place among armies, battalions and legions. Gone are the days when lives were lost in millions due to international conflict. Today, wars are instrumented using not guns and troops, but PCs.

The silent cyber wars of the 21st century are brewed inside homes, initiated by civilians and won by intellect, not instruments of destruction. This newfound method - through which victory is calculated using hacks - has given birth to a fresh range of soldiers - to be one all you need is an internet connection and a pinch of patriotism

In this brand new warfare, this is what an attack looks like. The Indian railways website was supposedly hacked by a Pakistani hacker, codename Faisal 1337. Although the page has since been taken down by the Indian Railways, a mirror can be found here.

Diplomatic Dimension of Maritime Challenges for India in the 21st Century

By G. Parthasarathy

While the present discourse in India is largely on its civilizational past and on the contemporary challenges across its land borders, very little attention has been paid to the crucial and indeed imperative role of seafaring trade and maritime security, and indeed the entire spectrum of maritime affairs. Until recently, there has been little realization of the importance of these issues in safeguarding the Indian way of life and ensuring that India emerges as an increasingly influential power, dedicated to peace and cooperation with all. Even school textbooks contain very little information about India’s maritime traditions or the decline of India’s role in maritime trade with the advent of European Power across the world, particularly since the 18th century.

India’s maritime history began in the 3rd millennium BCE when the Indus Valley established maritime contacts with Mesopotamia. Following the Roman occupation of Egypt, trade flourished with the Roman Empire, not only with India’s west coast, but also with Tamil Pandyan Kings. The Chola Dynasty reached out beyond the shores of what is now Tamil Nadu between the Third and Thirteenth Centuries, extending its domain from Sri Lanka to Srivijaya (Indonesia) in Southeast Asia. Similar trade and maritime contacts flourished between rulers of Kalinga (Orissa) and the kingdoms of South and Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.

Isolated Indian Soldiers Invent New Saints to Maintain Their Sanity

By Shefali Anand and Joanna Sugden 
May 27, 2016

On one base, troops revere a serviceman who died in 1968; ‘How can I not believe?’ 

Soldiers and tourists believe that bottles of water kept near the likeness of Mr. Singh impart blessings upon drinkers. Photo: Shefali Anand/The Wall Street Journal 

NATHU LA, India—Indian army enlisted man Jitender Singh Sehrawat has had a few close calls.
When lightning tore through the roof of his bunker at a high-altitude post on the Chinese border one recent afternoon, it blasted a hole in a metal mess plate lying feet from where he was standing. Miraculously, Mr. Sehrawat says, he and his squad mates were unharmed.

He doesn’t think it was luck. Rather, he believes he was saved by Harbhajan Singh, a serviceman who died in 1968 and who is revered as a watchful spirit by soldiers.

Shrine of Harbhajan Singh. 

It is lonely and hostile in this remote mountainous base, and the threat of armed conflict is never far away. To get through the days, and to explain the inexplicable, troops have added a series of beloved figures to the traditional Hindu pantheon.

“Without Baba’s blessings, it’s impossible to live up there,” the 24-year-old Mr. Sehrawat says. “How can I not believe?” Baba is an honorific bestowed on Hindu saints.

The Hindus are a devout people, believing in millions of gods and numerous saints. Many believe in rebirth, and some in the afterlife. Few revere a dead person as if he is god.

Despite setback, Taliban will force greater violence on Afghanistan

By Chayanika Saxena
28 May , 2016

Taken down in a drone attack, the rehbar (leader) of Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour is reported to have been eliminated on the evening of May 21, 2016. Confirming his death, official sources placed in both the US Oval office and the National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan are maintaining that Mansour was killed in the Pakistani town of Dalbandin while he was journeying back to Pakistan from Iran, ostensibly on a Pakistani passport in which he was recognized as Muhammad Wali. 

It is believed that the Amir of the Afghan Taliban was in talks with Iran; having been there for close to two months, purportedly with the intention of cooperating with the authorities in Tehran in what appears to be their common fight against the ISIS. As is evidentially known, the gruesomely militant outfit- Islamic State- has managed to make inroads into the eastern provinces of Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar, challenging not only the authority of the Afghan government, but also that of the Afghan Taliban by claiming to be the ‘true’ representative of the ‘most fidel reflection of Islamic law and governance’ . In fact, if the establishment of the vilayet (district) Khorasan of the Islamic State is anything to go by, the Afghan Taliban, which has already been under stress owing to succession wars and a tightening Pakistani noose, has been staring at its potential displacement and a probable replacement on Afghanistan’s political scene.

Witnessing intense turf wars within, the Afghan Taliban, possibly with the intent of not aggravating its internal crisis, displayed no rush in vetting the reports about Mansour’s death that had begun doing rounds. Given both that similar reports about the death of the new rehbar had been proven to be unfounded in the past (the fight in Kuchlak, Pakistan), and that the Afghan Taliban has a proclivity to keep the dead alive for long and even resurrecting them to life, it was quite likely that reports on the death of Mansour too would have been dismissed. However, the Afghan Taliban has come around, surmising to the latest development and has, with ‘good authority’, verified that its leader is dead.

In Search of the Xi Doctrine

May 30, 2016

As President Obama sought to make his final mark in Asia, visiting Vietnam and Japan last week, he confronted the increasingly clear strategic goals of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Though Xi continues to focus on domestic issues, including a weakening economy, and cracks down on foreign non-governmental organizations with a new repressive law, he is also making clear that China intends to shape East Asia’s security environment. Although not formally articulated as such, put together, his statements form what could be called the Xi doctrine. This “doctrine” appears to reserve to China the right to use force to intervene in conflicts or crisis situations outside its borders, in order to preserve or create a balance of power favorable to its interests. As such, it poses a challenge to U.S. policymakers, who must uphold the regional rules-based order that has provided stability for over a half-century while at the same time ensuring that Beijing and Washington avoid conflict.

Xi has made dozens of foreign policy speeches since taking power in late-2012, most of them touting peaceful coexistence. In recent months, though, both Chinese actions and his statements have gelled into a more operationally coherent policy, one that directly influences China’s security actions abroad. Xi’s vision and aspiration encompass the whole of East Asia. As such these speeches give greater clarity to what he considers China’s core security interests. The Xi doctrine shapes the geopolitical environment surrounding these core interests, primarily preventing the Korean peninsula from tilting toward the United States, ensuring Chinese dominance in the region’s seas, and forestalling any moves by Taiwan toward independence.


MAY 30, 2016

The United States and its closest partner in Syria, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), have worked closely together to take territory from the Islamic State. The PYD’s militia—the People’s Protection Units (YPG)—is the most dominant group in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This partnership relies on a small number of American special operations forces (SOF) to embed with the SDF to leverage the benefits of airpower to take territory. This approach is based on the United States’ recent experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, where a small number of ground forces allowed for local militias to rapidly take territory.

As the anti-ISIL coalition and its Kurdish majority partner begins the campaign to force ISIL from Raqqa, its capital, concurrent efforts to defeat the group in the Manbij pocket – the stretch of Islamic State controlled territory between the cities of Marea and Manbij near the Turkish-Syrian border – will gain in importance. The taking of Raqqa city will ultimately require four interlinked efforts. First, the continued SDF-led efforts to take territory in northern Raqqa province, beginning with a southward push from strongholds near Ain Issa and just north of Raqqa city. Second, the American and Jordanian supported “New Syrian Army” continue its move north towards the town of Al Bukamal, an ISIL controlled town in the Euphrates River Valley on the Iraqi-Syrian border. The SDF continues to push south from Markadah, outside of Ash Shaddadi. Finally, a force will also have to close the Manbij pocket to deny ISIL freedom of movement from strongholds on the western flank to reinforce positions in and around its capital city.

Retaking Raqqa From the Islamic State

May 24, 2016

Fighters belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces sit on an armored personnel carrier in al-Hasaka province on Feb. 19. (DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images) 

The battle for Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-declared capital in Syria, has begun. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are advancing toward the city, engaging the jihadist group in the villages of al-Hisha, Tal Samen and Mutamshirij along the way. Because of Raqqa's strategic importance, the Islamic State will do everything in its power to keep the city within its grasp. Driving the militants from their stronghold will not be easy or cheap, but if the SDF is successful, it will greatly accelerate the Islamic State's defeat in Syria.

For months, the SDF, backed by the United States, has been positioned on the front lines roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Raqqa. Videos have emerged showing large convoys, including tank transporters carrying armored vehicles, moving throughout the area as the group prepared to retake the city from the Islamic State fighters who captured it in 2013. Over the past week, the United States began dropping leaflets on Raqqa urging its citizens to leave, proclaiming, "The time you have awaited has arrived. It's time to leave Raqqa." Then on May 21-22, U.S. Gen. Joseph Votel — the top U.S. Central Command general and the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to Syria during the conflict — visited SDF fighters in the country's north. As the signs of impending battle mounted, the Islamic State began making preparations of its own, ramping up its defenses throughout Raqqa. And on May 24, the SDF made its move, announcing the start of its long-awaited advance.

But just how close the group is able to get to the heart of the city will be determined by one thing: its ethnic composition. Raqqa is a city with an Arab majority. Because the SDF and its backers want to not only retake the city but also to hold and govern it, they will need a sizable Arab force if they hope to achieve their objectives with local support. However, the SDF is currently dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which have been effective against the Islamic State in territory they are familiar with in the north and northeast but are less inclined to spearhead operations farther south toward Raqqa. Moreover, the deeper the Kurds push into overwhelmingly Arab territory, the more they risk cementing local populations' suspicions of the rebels and support for the Islamic State.

Dealing With Disasters. From Hurricanes To Asteroids, How Should We Determine What Steps To Take To Avert Catastrophe?

from the Richmond Fed

-- this post authored by Tim Sablik

When Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, S.C., in September 1989, it became the first natural disaster in the United States to cause more than $1 billion in insured losses. Today, after adjusting for inflation, it doesn't even make the top 10 costliest U.S. disasters eight of which have occurred since 2000 alone. Indeed, disaster costs have been trending up worldwide over the last three decades (see chart below).

This may partly be explained by growth in coastal areas, which are at greater risk of damage from recurring natural disasters like severe storms and flooding. Development of these areas is not necessarily a bad thing, as Stéphane Hallegatte, senior economist in the World Bank's Climate Change Group, explained in a 2011 paper. Coastal cities are popular tourist destinations and are natural hubs for industry and trade thanks to their access to waterways. As a result, greater development in those areas is to be expected as a country's GDP increases, despite the risks.

New Rules for the Monetary Gam

MAR 21, 2016 

Raghuram Rajan is Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. 

NEW DELHI – Our world is facing an increasingly dangerous situation. Both advanced and emerging economies need to grow in order to ease domestic political tensions. And yet few are. If governments respond by enacting policies that divert growth from other countries, this “beggar my neighbor” tactic will simply foster instability elsewhere. What we need, therefore, are new rules of the game. 

Why is it proving to be so hard to restore pre-Great Recession growth rates? The immediate answer is that the boom preceding the global financial crisis of 2008 left advanced economies with an overhang of growth-inhibiting debt. While the remedy may be to write down debt to revive demand, it is uncertain whether write-downs are politically feasible or the resulting demand sustainable. Moreover, structural factors like population aging and low productivity growth – which were previously masked by debt-fueled demand – may be hampering the recovery. 

Politicians know that structural reforms – to increase competition, foster innovation, and drive institutional change – are the way to tackle structural impediments to growth. But they know that, while the pain from reform is immediate, gains are typically delayed and their beneficiaries uncertain. As Jean-Claude Juncker, then Luxembourg’s prime minister, said at the height of the euro crisis, “We all know what to do; we just don't know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it!” 

Central bankers face a different problem: inflation that is flirting with the lower bound of their mandate. With interest rates already very low, advanced economies’ central bankers know that they must go beyond ordinary monetary policy – or lose credibility on inflation. They feel that they cannot claim to be out of tools. If all else fails, there is always the “helicopter drop,” whereby the central bank prints money and sprays it on the streets to create inflation (more prosaically, it sends a check to every citizen, perhaps more to the poor, who are likelier to spend it). But they can also employ a range of other unconventional tools more aggressively, from asset purchases (so-called quantitative easing) to negative interest rates.