9 June 2016

Consequences Of Dancing With Uncle Sam

The Modi government’s ambition to transform Indo-US relations could be constrained by the geopolitical realities of a changing world order
An Indian Prime Minister paying homage to America’s fallen soldiers at the Arlington National Cemetery is probably the most iconic image of Modi’s latest visit to the US. Since the 1920s, Indian leaders have espoused their antipathy to military interventions and imperial adventures. “Slaves ourselves”, Nehru wrote in 1927, “it has been our degrading function to help in the enslavement of others for the benefit of a third party.” This wasn’t just an emotional belief. Indian sepoys had formed the sinews of British power projection across Asia and Africa for decades until London’s sudden departure from the subcontinent in 1947.
In his Discovery of India, Nehru had noted how “Indian troops had been used as mercenaries” for “imperialist purposes” in “Burma, China, Iran…Middle East, and…Africa”, making them “symbols of British imperialism” across Asia. The conviction that India would never again play such an enabling frontline role to fuel and sustain the ambitions of another great power became engrained in our post-colonial belief system. This core belief persisted even beyond the post-Cold War era. It was first challenged quite dramatically in 2003 when the Vajpayee government came within a whisker of replaying the traditional sepoy role, this time to America’s invasion of Iraq. Ultimately, Delhi chose to adhere to its core beliefs: India would not deploy its boots to fight another country’s war. The symbolism of Modi laying a wreath at Arlington appears to reflect a turning point where past shibboleths are no longer deemed appropriate for India’s position in the world.

Modi’s ambitious quest to transform the Indo-US relationship will reverberate across the international system. It will also change India and its role – both in her own region and in Asia. The rhetoric of the joint statement leaves little doubt about Indian preferences: “The leaders affirmed the increasing convergence in their strategic perspectives and emphasized the need to remain closely invested in each other’s security and prosperity.” Both leaders also “resolved that the United States and India should look to each other as priority partners in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.” While it is perhaps premature to predict how this shared vision will actually play out, the critical question is, what are the possible geopolitical consequences of this dramatic shift in India’s foreign policy?

** How to Understand ISIS

Malise Ruthven
June 23, 2016 Issue
The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East
by Marc Lynch
PublicAffairs, 284 pp., $26.99
ISIS: A History
by Fawaz A. Gerges
Princeton University Press, 368 pp., $27.95 
Mohammed al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty ImagesBahraini police dispersing protesters at an unauthorized demonstration by the February 14 Youth Coalition, Manama, January 2013. The coalition is named for the day that Bahrain’s uprising began during the Arab Spring of 2011.

In his best-selling History of the Arab Peoples, published two years before his death in 1993, the Anglo-Lebanese scholar Albert Hourani remarked on the surprising levels of political stability prevailing in the Arab world at that time. Despite the rapid growth of its cities, and many disparities of wealth between the governing elites and newly urbanized masses who were calling for social justice, calm seemed to rule, at least on the surface. Since the military coups of the 1950s and 1960s in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere there had been remarkably little change in the general nature of most Arab regimes or the direction of their policies. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco had seen no dynastic changes for more than two generations; in Libya and Syria the regimes that came to power around 1970 were still in place. In 2000 in Syria, nearly a decade after Hourani’s book was published, leadership passed smoothly from father to son, while in Egypt and Libya the issue of dynastic succession was being widely discussed.

Like many other observers of Middle Eastern and North African history, Hourani interpreted this picture of calm with an eye to the writings of Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), the Arab historian and polymath whose theories of dynastic change and cyclical renewal and especially his concept of ‘asabiyya, variously translated as “clannism,” “group feeling,” or—in Hourani’s definition—“a corporate spirit oriented towards obtaining and keeping power,” provided a prism through which contemporary systems of governance could be viewed. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s 2004 Arab Human Development Report, for example:

*** Swami Vivekananda Through The Lens Of Economics

June 5, 2016

Swami Vivekananda’s economic thoughts are not that obvious or direct. However, there are more than a few reflections of his where he engages with societal problems as an economist would. Here, Dr Bibek Debroy brings forth those.

There are many facets to Swami Vivekananda – religious, philosophical, political, nationalistic. Swami Vivekananda’s economic thoughts are not that obvious or direct. But apparent appearances can be deceptive. In Frank Rhodehamel’s notes from a Bhagavad Gita lecture delivered in May 1900, we find, “Always remember this, that whenever a religious system gains ground with the people at large, it has a strong economic side to it. It is the economic side of a religion that finds lodgement with the people at large, and never its spiritual, or philosophic, side. If you should preach the grandest philosophy in the streets for a year, you would not have a handful of followers. But you could preach the most arrant nonsense, and if it had an economic element, you would have the whole people with you.” In similar vein, “Whenever any religion succeeds, it must have economic value. Thousands of similar sects will be struggling for power, but only those who meet the real economic problem will have it. Man is guided by the stomach. He walks and the stomach goes first and the head afterwards. Have you not seen that? It will take ages for the head to go first.”

In the 9 volumes of Swami Vivekananda’s collected works, Volume 9, since it is in the nature of a residual, is a priori the least likely to have economic elements. Consider the following quote from Volume 9. India is a poor country today, and it was a poor country in Swami Vivekananda’s time. Per capita income is accepted as a standard measure of a country’s average standard of living, notwithstanding criticisms about GDP (gross domestic product) as a sole measure of welfare. To make cross-country comparisons possible, per capita income is expressed in a common numeraire, usually the US dollar. India’s per capita income was thus 1,527 US dollars in 2011, with Luxembourg the richest country in the world at 122,272 US dollars. But this is in official exchange rates. And today, economists acknowledge that such comparisons can be misleading, because non-tradables like services are relatively cheaper in developing countries and relatively more expensive in developed countries. Consequently, corrections are made for purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP conversions relatively increase per capita income in developing countries and lower them in developed countries. In 2011,India’s PPP per capita income thus becomes 3,703 US dollars. While the official exchange rate is around 50 US dollars to a rupee, most economists I know think that the PPP exchange rate is around 12 rupees to a 1 US dollar*. The quote is from “Detroit Journal”, dated 23rd February 1894: 

** A Case Against America

by Noam Chomsky 

It is hard to see yourself as others do, all the more so if you are the world’s sole remaining superpower. In unparalleled fashion, the United States today has the capacity to project its military might throughout vast parts of the globe, even if blunders in Iraq and Libya, unresolved crises in Syria and Yemen, and disturbing trends in Russia and China demonstrate the limits of American military power to shape world events. In an increasingly multipolar world, America’s power is far from its dominant heights after World War II, but it is still unmatched. 

Americans tend to ease any qualms about such military supremacy with self-assurances about US benevolence. Noam Chomsky is at his best in putting those platitudes to rest, seeing an America of hypocrisy and self-interest. Yes, there are times when the United States does good, but Chomsky in his latest book, Who Rules the World?, reminds us of a long list of harms that most Americans would rather forget. His memory is almost entirely negative but it is strong and unsparing. 

Chomsky reminds us that parallels to America’s tendency to act in its own interest while speaking of more global interests can be found among the powerful throughout history. As predecessors to “American exceptionalism” he cites France’s “civilizing mission” among its colonies and even imperial Japan’s vow to bring “earthly paradise” to China under its tutelage. These past slogans are now widely seen as euphemisms for exploitation and plunder, yet Americans tend to believe that their government acts in the world without similar imperial baggage. 

* Can China realise its One Belt, One Road dream?

Jayadeva Ranade
Jun 05, 2016 

China's acquisition of a strategic port in Pakistan is the latest addition to its drive to secure energy and maritime routes and gives it a potential naval base in the Arabian Sea, unsettling India. (AFP) 

China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), 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. Essentially, it is a plan for a China-built land and sea transportation artery to link production centres in China with markets and natural resource centres around the world. At the same time it will harness China’s massive, but hitherto idle, economic, manpower and technological reserves and get much-needed returns on investment. The initiative blends geopolitical and diplomatic objectives and has a strong domestic agenda. The latter was highlighted when an official of China’s Ministry of Commerce told Caijing magazine in May 2014 that the “new 30 years” will put today’s China on the threshold of a third era comparable to those begun by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

The approximately $1.4 trillion project potentially covers 55% of the world GNP, 70% of the global population, and 75% of the earth’s known energy reserves. China also claims to be willing to make a huge financial commitment in infrastructure financing and, though some multilateral and bilateral pledges may overlap, it is still estimated to exceed US $300 billion. The initiative has the potential to bend borders and alter geostrategic dynamics and the status quo in China’s extended neighbourhood. Its completion is planned to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049.

How Obama Revived U.S.-Indian Relations

June 6, 2016

DESPITE HIS initial reservations about the merits of close relations with India, President Obama appears to be ending his second term on a high note. The Obama administration invited Prime Minister Modi to address a joint session of Congress, eager to portray the occasion as an opportunity to consolidate bilateral relations. Indeed, this dramatic shift in President Obama’s foreign-policy priorities stems from the assessment of three components of American national interests and India’s role in their achievement: build strong bilateral security and defense cooperation, make India an important export market for U.S. goods and services, and situate India in the strategic pivot to Asia. But a close analysis of American foreign policy toward India shows mixed results. President Obama has succeeded in substantially strengthening existing defense ties, but has had far less success in accelerating U.S. exports to India. This seriously undercuts his goal of advancing American economic interest. President Obama has failed to fully convince India of the American commitment to the Asia pivot strategy. India’s regional concerns over territorial defense from neighbors, coupled with America’s allocation of insufficient resources, contribute to its ambivalence about the pivot.

President Obama’s dramatic shift in foreign policy toward India—from a lukewarm attitude to a strong embrace—appears to have elevated the bilateral relationship to a high priority for the United States. These shifts are important because as a self-professed realist, President Obama focuses on securing America’s core national interests. He has not hesitated to question the relevance of U.S. friends and enemies in the pursuit of those interests. In fact, Obama did not support the U.S. strategic partnership with India under the George W. Bush administration. He has, however, dramatically shifted his policy priorities to build closer relations with India. President Obama describes the U.S.-India relationship as one of the defining partnerships of the twenty-first century, guided by convergent national interests.

India’s NSG prospects not so good

Jun 06 2016

The Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna on India’s membership will be a contestation between US and China to determine the future of the nuclear and world order

There is a common perception that the extraordinary plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on 9-10 June in Vienna to consider India’s membership is solely about New Delhi’s non-proliferation record in general and it being a non-signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in particular. But it is not.

In reality, it is a contestation between the US and China to determine the future of the nuclear and world order. China’s public declaration to oppose New Delhi’s formal NSG application is more about keeping India out rather than bringing its “all-weather friend” Pakistan (which belatedly also put in an application) in; it is more about securing the existing nuclear and world order rather than strengthening the non-proliferation regime; and, above all, it is a blatant challenge to Washington’s leadership in shaping the evolving world order.

So far, the indications are that China is likely to win this round, despite its flawed arguments.

Convergence, but hard choices ahead

June 6, 2016 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in US from June 7 and 8. 

While Narendra Modi’s visit will be welcomed by both the Republican and Democratic leaderships, the investment made in deepening bilateral ties with the U.S. will need to be reinforced post-2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to the United States, from June 7-8, his fourth since entering office in May 2014, is both a pointer of the extent of distance the two countries, India and the U.S., have traversed in the last two years and of the enormous potential still waiting to be tapped.

In the run-up to the 2014 general election in India, the bilateral discourse stood vitiated. The strip search of an Indian diplomat stationed in New York provided an indication of the extent to which the relationship had got derailed. Only mature handling could revive the relationship and impart to it momentum for revitalisation. This was on display in abundant measure on both sides.

American exceptionalism draws inspiration from its Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers contained therein. Its sense of entitlement is enhanced by the fact that today it has a $17-trillion GDP and by its position as the world’s sole remaining superpower. The Indian political elite has decided to enter into a “global strategic partnership” with the U.S. based on shared democratic values and the perception of increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues and do business on a scale that would have been considered inconceivable some years ago. This course has very different implications for the two countries.

Broad-based, multi-sectoral ties

Book | India-U.S: Relations in Transition

June 3rd, 2016

Click to download free copy.

This collection of short memoranda on India-U.S. relations has been written by experts from Brookings India and its affiliate, the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. The memos each represent the personal views of the authors and not the institutions themselves. They are meant to provide different, and sometimes differing, perspectives on how to make progress on some of the top issues on the India-U.S. agenda.

In the Introduction, Dhruva Jaishankar looks at the highs and lows in relations since 1998 and the considerable progress made. In the first section on bilateral relations, Teresita Schaffer outlines the key strategic convergences and remaining obstacles to the India-U.S. security partnership. She suggests that the United States respect India’s desire for strategic autonomy and that the two sides deepen their dialogue on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. Joshua Meltzer argues that India risks being left behind by recent mega-regional trade agreements. Among other measures, he recommends that India be included in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Darrell West and Hillary Schaub recommend that differences over intellectual property be bridged through dialogue and by encouraging patenting that could benefit Indian innovators.

In the second section, covering areas of cooperation that could help accelerate India’s development, Shamika Ravi argues that India’s ailing higher education sector could benefit from longer tenures for U.S. faculty in the country, a greater emphasis on community college collaboration, and an overhaul of the regulatory bodies that oversee Indian tertiary education. Kavita Patel sees parallels between U.S. and Indian struggles to provide affordable access to healthcare, and suggests ways for India to learn from U.S. experiences in medical training, prevention and diagnosis, and telemedicine. Vikram Singh Mehta describes the structural changes underway in the international energy market and argues that India can adopt American practices of deploying government resources to support energy-related innovations.

Who’s Afraid of One Belt One Road?

New Delhi is concerned about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, part of the new ‘Silk Road’, but it need not despair as India is an important part of the existing multi-polar Asia architecture.

The signing of the Chabahar port development agreement and the tripartite pact on a trade and transit corridor linking India, Afghanistan and Iran during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Iran has re-opened the discussion in New Delhi about what position it should adopt on the Chinese-sponsored logistics project, One Belt, One Road (OBOR). Some background to this would be useful.

In September 2013, during a visit to Kazakhstan, China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced a Chinese initiative — the setting up of connectivities across the landmass of Eurasia and the waters of the Indian Ocean that would collectively be known as the OBOR. He anchored this vision in the old ‘Silk Road,’ which in his view had originated with the encounters of imperial envoy Zhang Qian (200-113 BC) with Central Asian civilisations over two millennia earlier.

Since then, the OBOR has become the most important element in Chinese economic and political diplomacy, as its leaders, officials and academics attempt to fine-tune their thinking and get more supporters — governments, officials and the corporate – on board for this dramatic enterprise that has the potential to fundamentally transform the world’s communications, and its economic and political landscape.

The old Silk Road

Why India will be Kept Out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group

June 2, 2016

Ahead of this month’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plenary, at which the consideration of India’s membership is expected, a couple of things have happened in quick succession. China announced its opposition to permitting non-Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) members into the NSG, and Pakistan, citing its observance of NSG guidelines, made an application for membership. The United States, which has been quite vociferous in its support for India’s membership, and has, for some time, lobbied NSG members for their positive vote, reiterated its traditional line. Of the 48 members of the NSG, three players—China, the “non-proliferation hardliner” countries, and the United States—will play an important role in deciding which way the vote will sway.

First, China’s position, although premised on the principled-sounding “non-admittance of non-NPT signatory” argument, takes into account wider geostrategic calculations. Its opposition, though not new, is primarily based on two factors: keeping India out, and keeping Pakistan pegged with India.

Beijing’s “non-NPT” argument is not so much a matter of principle as it is resistance to India being granted the same privileges as China, an NPT signatory. NSG membership would give India greater access to the international nuclear market, and to the perks and benefits that China enjoys. In addition to opening up nuclear commerce, the NSG can be a source of legitimacy for a nuclear-armed state outside of the NPT, and for regional power projection.

Raja Mandala: Regional India, Global South Asia

May 31, 2016 

Delhi no longer has the luxury of viewing South Asia as India’s “backyard.”

Their presence at the G-7 summit at Ise-Shima, Japan, last week was hardly noticed in India. But among the six leaders of the developing world present in the outreach session were Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, and Maithripala Sirisena, president of Sri Lanka.

The Japanese invitation to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka underlines the remarkable rise in Tokyo’s strategic interest in the Subcontinent. It also highlights the growing salience of South Asian nations on the international stage.

Japan is a late entrant to this game; China has already begun to integrate India’s neighbours into its larger international and regional strategies. The $ 46 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor is only one example. In another, Beijing has given Colombo and Kathmandu the status of a “dialogue partner” in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

As other powers begin to devote quality time to engaging South Asian nations, big and small, Delhi must lend additional depth and energy to its current “neighbourhood first” strategy. Above all, it must come to terms with the unfolding globalisation of the Subcontinent.

Much of the international discourse on South Asia often gets reduced to the India-Pakistan relations; this only helps mask the significance of the other nations in the region. And the reference to them as “smaller nations” of the region is largely inaccurate.

The Jihadist Civil War – OpEd

JUNE 7, 2016

The bloodthirsty jihadist organization that calls itself Islamic State (IS) sprang from the loins of al-Qaeda, once the supreme bane of the western world, which achieved its apogee with the destruction of the twin towers in New York. Over the past decade the fortunes of the two Islamist bodies have diverged, with IS apparently going from strength to strength and al-Qaeda apparently diminishing in influence. Now the wheel of fortune has turned, and as a result parent and offspring are at each other’s throats.

The assault on the United States that shook the civilized world to its foundations occurred on the 11th of September 2001. An investigation by the FBI quickly determined that those responsible were directly connected to al-Qaeda. By the start of December 2001, US special operations forces had tracked the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and some one thousand of his followers, to their six square mile hideout deep in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan. For two weeks nearly a million pounds of American bombs rained down on them. Although about two hundred terrorists were killed and fifty captured, the US operation could scarcely be deemed a success, for most the jihadists, together with their leader, evaded capture, fled into Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt and disappeared.

It took nearly ten years before a special commando force of the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known as SEALs, finally located bin Laden’s new headquarters inside Pakistan, tracked him down and killed him. During that decade al-Qaeda groups mounted a succession of bombings and terrorist attacks across the globe.

Pakistan Military Establishment Geopolitically Cornered – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila
JUNE 7, 2016

Emerging geopolitical power- play in which Pakistan finds itself in the vortex and the resultant “reality-bites” seem to have overwhelmingly stung the Pakistan military establishment which may generate implications for India.

The Pakistan Army Chief in particular and the Pakistan military establishment in general who primarily determine Pakistan’s foreign policy formulations pertaining to the United States, China, India and Afghanistan cannot in the ultimate analysis wash their hands away from the stark reality today that Pakistan stands geopolitically cornered. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or his civilian set-up cannot be blamed by the Pakistan Army Chief for the onset of Pakistan’s likely geopolitical isolation.

Pakistan’s military establishment conditioned by decades of strategic fawning by both the United States and China and more patronised by Saudi Arabia find themselves in mid-2016 being virtually forsaken by the United States and Saudi Arabia and left with its concubinage relationship with China as the mainstay of the future foreign policy directions of Pakistan.

The most stinging geopolitical “reality-bite” for the Pakistan military establishment turns out to be the Chah Bahar Tripartite Agreement signed on 23 May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan in Tehran and which stood analysed in detail in my previous SAAG Paper No.6120 Dated 30 May 2016 “Chah Bahar Tripartite Agreement Signals New Power-Play” and I had reflected that it would rattle both China and Pakistan. Pakistan military establishment certainly seems rattled as manifested in the recent three- day workshop on “National Security, Deterrence and Regional Stability” in Islamabad organised by the Strategic Vision Institute.

After Kandahar swap, India offered Taliban cash to get me: JeM chief

Jun 6, 2016, 9:17

Azhar claimed the alleged offer was made by the then External Affairs minister Jaswant Singh to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, the Taliban chief who was killed in a US drone strike last month.

Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar

Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar has claimed that India had offered money to the then Taliban government to arrest and hand over him and two others after they were exchanged for passengers and crew of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 at Kandahar in 1999.

Azhar claimed the alleged offer was made by the then External Affairs minister Jaswant Singh to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, the Taliban chief who was killed in a US drone strike last month. At the time of the hijacking, Mansur was the civil aviation minister of Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Azhar made these claims in an obituary of Mansur, posted under his pen name Saidi in the June 3 issue of Al Qalam Weekly, which is considered the Jaish’s online mouthpiece.

As the US Struggles in Afghanistan, India Has Reason to Be Wary

It will be best if Modi takes the many lessons that history holds out for those who think of venturing into Afghanistan for one reason or the other.

Afghan security forces prepare for battle with the Taliban in Kunduz province, Afghanistan. Credit: Reuters

The political pot in Afghanistan keeps boiling constantly, the churn so rapid that an instant becomes history almost immediately. Akhtar Mansour is distant memory already. People may soon ask, ‘Who was he?’ Whether they actually do so is not the issue, what is important is this; will we ever know the truth about the killing of Mansour, the Taliban Chief? Or for that matter about the death of his predecessor Mullah Omar who was fictionally kept alive for two years? Nor are we likely to ever know the extent of Pakistan’s involvement in the hosting and then the betrayal of Osama bin Laden.

There were huge protests in and by Pakistan following the night raid on OBL in Abottabad. But the muted, pro-forma Pakistani reaction after the incursion by American drones into Balochistan to kill Mansour raises questions. Was Pakistan complicit? Did it encourage the strike? After all, it is not every day that American drones transgress Pakistani airspace. In fact, over the years, drone attacks on Pakistani soil have reduced vastly. From a peak of 117 in 2010 there were just 11 drone strikes in 2015. And only 3 this year up to 22 May 2016—these 3 include the strike killing Akhtar Mansour. Clearly then, transgressing drones have become the exception and the US might be exercising this restraint due to a combination of factors: collateral damage, Pakistani protests and/or the lack of ground intelligence to effectively guide drone strikes. Or is this reduction in strikes an acknowledgement by the US that Afghanistan cannot be turned around and that Pakistan controls the winning cards there.

The China-Pakistan Corridor is All About Power. Not Electricity, but the Real Thing

The electricity generating projects are likely to saddle the Pakistani government with a massive fiscal burden but the real cost of CPEC is likely to be felt in the changing civil-military balance.

General Raheel Sharif drives Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the newly constructed patch of CPEC in Gwadar. Credit: ISPR/The Herald

It has been a year since the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was launched on a wave of Pakistani euphoria. It was called a game-changer, so Pakistan has played the new game for a year now, and though the rest of the world – and Pakistanis outside government – have no clue what the rules are, it is becoming clear that if ever there was what cricketers call a corridor of uncertainty, this is one. Nawaz Sharif, a batsman in his prime, knows that the best you can hope for in that corridor is the fortuitous reward of a Chinese cut.

Though there are fears in Lutyens’ Delhi that the corridor will be a strategic nightmare for India, there is a greater chance of it becoming an incubus for Pakistan. $34.4 billion of the $46 billion announced are for power projects, of which the government designated 16 as early-harvest, the yield presumably its re-election in 2018. These will add 10,400 MW of generating capacity to the grid, which the government claimed would resolve Pakistan’s critical shortage of power, now as much a political as an economic problem.

Numbers that don’t add up

‘The Chaos In The Middle East: 2014-2016’ – New Book

JUNE 7, 2016

I do not want to be immodest, but as a reader of the Eurasia Review you might be interested in my forthcoming book in which I attempt to provide an accessible overview of the discord in the Middle East that is dominating the media agenda.

In ‘The Chaos in the Middle East: 2014-2016’ I try to explain the myriad of forces that have turned the Middle East into a bloodbath, and attempt to unravel the confusing and intricate modern news of conflict from the region. From the West’s failure to triumph over Islamic State to Iran’s sudden increase in status, and much else, I describe what has happened, and provide the background to these unfolding events.

Through all of its sadness and brutality, the Middle East has become something of a fashionable topic for news media around the world. While millions know that the region has problems, far fewer understand why. The world has come to know that Islamic State means death, but many fail to appreciate the long-term objectives of the organization. The world sees Syrian refugees flooding into Europe, but many, if not most, people are hazy as to who is fighting whom in their homeland, and why. I try to explain all this, and much besides.

How Vietnam Can Stop the South China Sea ADIZ

June 6, 2016

What is China’s next big move in the South China Sea? Ask the experts this question and tally their predictions. The action that will get the most votes is likely to be the imposition of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Indeed, a widespread view among the South China Sea watchers is that China will sooner or later declare an ADIZ in this semi-closed maritime domain, where it has reclaimed thousands of acres of land to build long airstrips, high-frequency radars, stationed combat aircraft and long-range missiles.

This view is undergirded by two assumptions. The first is that Beijing is willing to accept high costs, while an ADIZ will bring enormous benefits to China. The second assumption is that there will be a moment when circumstances raise either the costs for China’s rivals to retaliate, the benefits for China to impose an ADIZ, or both. Consequently, declaring an ADIZ is a matter of timing, as China is waiting for the opportunity that maximizes the cost-benefit ratio of this action.

From this perspective, the idea of an ADIZ is particularly attractive when the hands of China’s rivals are tied or when an ADIZ can prevent or compensate for some of China’s anticipated losses. Such an opportunity is looming large in these months as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to reject China’s nine-dash line, the central basis of Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. Not only can an ADIZ fill in an important part of the legal vacuum that will emerge if the nine-dash line is widely believed as illegal; an ADIZ can impose more restrictions than the nine-dash line. Adding to this estimation is a recent report citing sources close to the Chinese military as saying that China is preparing an ADIZ in the South China Sea.

China’s Oil Investment Falls, Raising Security Risks – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld
JUNE 7, 2016

A steep drop in China’s oil investment may make it more dependent on imports than ever and more determined to advance its interests in the South China Sea, recent data suggests.

So far this year, China’s growth in fixed-asset investments (FAI) like buildings and machinery has fallen short of forecasts with a major decline in the petroleum sector, according to official reports.

While overall FAI, outside rural households, rose 10.5 percent in the first four months of the year, investment in the oil and gas sector plunged 27.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The sharp cutback is a reaction to low crude prices and profit pressures on China’s state-owned oil companies, analysts say.

The result was a 5.6-percent dip in domestic oil production to 16.6 million metric tons in April, or an average of 4.04 million barrels per day (mbpd), the lowest in nearly three years.

At the same time, China’s crude imports in April jumped 7.6 percent from a year earlier to nearly 8 mbpd, according to customs figures. Domestic output was off 2.7 percent, while imports were up 11.8 percent in the first four months of the year.

The net result of all the numbers is that China has become more import dependent for oil supplies as production stagnates and demand continues to grow, raising the stakes for control over import routes.

The growing military alliance between the U.S. and India will give China a pause

By: News Target 
June 01, 2016

A burgeoning military-to-military relationship between the United States and India is emerging as China continues to build islands in the South China Sea and conduct aggressive patrolling using outsized sovereignty claims, and it is one that is likely to complicate Beijing’s plans for regional dominance.

As reported by the War is Boring blog , while there is no formal alliance yet, one could be on the way. Also, what began as wariness by New Delhi has led, gradually, to new cooperation spurred on by mutual interests.

In recent days U.S. and Indian officials met for a “maritime security dialogue” in India’s capital. “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 .

Both nations are close to formalizing a historic military cooperation agreement that is broadly termed the “Logistics Support Agreement,” or LSA. It would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupply, repairs and other operations.

The National Interest reported further:

Secure Ladakh before China teaches us another lesson

This article has been co-authored by Ravi Rikhye and Mandeep Singh Bajwa.

East Ladakh was so isolated and so lightly patrolled by Indian police that only in 1957 did India realise the Chinese had occupied the region. An Indian Army officer, who photographed parts of the Aksai Chin highway cutting across Ladakh, was disbelieved by Army HQ.

Because of increasing problems with China, the Army asked for three additional divisions and one-two independent brigades. The division for Ladakh was to have four strong brigades.

New Delhi reluctantly sanctioned just one division for NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) and one independent brigade for Ladakh with two militia battalions.

Resigned to the government's inaction, the Army asked for five regular battalions for 114 Brigade. Instead it got two. The second did not even arrive until the outbreak of the war.

As the 1962 disaster, unfolded, HQ 3rd Division was raised at Leh; HQ 114 Brigade moved to Chushul, HQ 70 Brigade arrived from the west Kashmir front, as also 163 Brigade.
China's announced defence budget is four times ours. (Reuters) 

Prior to the 1971 War, India withdrew 163 Brigade to the Pakistan plains without replacement. Eventually, by the first decade of the 21st Century, India had only four regular infantry battalions supplemented by two Special Frontier Force battalions committed to the China front.

China is Getting Ready

By Claude Arpi
07 Jun , 2016

As the Tibetan Sikyong (Prime Minister) begins his second term with a new Kashag (Cabinet) in Dharamsala, (all of the ministers were approved after a majority vote during the first day session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament), the Chinese Government continues to reinforce its presence on the plateau.

Of course, Beijing does not appreciate much democracy; Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei reiterated that what he calls the ‘so-called Tibetan government-in-exile’ has no legitimacy; the democratic elections-in-exile are considered by China a ‘political slapstick’.

Nothing new!

We know that Xi Jinping’s regime is not very fond of democracy.

Hong Lei even commented on the ‘separatist political group in India’ (i.e. the Central Tibetan Administration or CTA in Dharamsala) by pointing out that the CTA was not recognized by any country.

The Deluge Continues

In the meantime and perhaps more critical for the survival of the Tibetan identity, the deluge of Chinese tourists continues in Tibet.


JUNE 6, 2016

It is surely a sign of the bizarre circumstance in which we find ourselves today that “What exactly is Ahrar al-Sham?” has become a question of international political importance.

As the United States, Russia, and other members of the International Syrian Support Group make a new push to resolve Syria’s civil war, the debate over which armed opposition groups are outside the bounds of any settlement has proven controversial and divisive.

Much of this debate has centered on opposition faction and Islamist movement Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyyah (the Islamic Movement of the Freemen of al-Sham, shortened as Ahrar al-Sham) – whether Ahrar are “jihadists,” or how they might be linked with al-Qaeda. Just last month, the United States helped block a Russian effort in the U.N. Security Council to designate Ahrar al-Sham a terrorist organization.

Now, Ahrar al-Sham has itself weighed in with an hour-long, videotaped lecture by its deputy leader, Ali al-Omar (Abu Ammar), titled “The Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement’s Position Among the Islamist Trends.” Over the course of the lecture, al-Omar explains how Ahrar understands itself. He repeatedly delineates the distinctions between Ahrar and the Salafi-jihadist doctrine of al-Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State, even as he makes clear that Ahrar maintains a fundamentally militant and religious outlook.

Why a loss in Fallujah may be a win for ISIS (+video)

By Taylor Luck
JUNE 2, 2016

AMMAN, JORDAN — Iraqi forces are at the entrance of Fallujah, seemingly set to end a brutal two-year reign by the self-declared Islamic State (IS).

Yet the role of Shiite militias – and the increasing sectarian tone and propaganda surrounding the fight over the Sunni town – are creating tensions that serve IS propaganda and could set the stage for the jihadist group’s return to power in western Iraq.

“These operations only further support their narrative as the only defender of Sunnis,” says Hassan Hassan, a fellow at the Washington-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy who coauthored a book on IS.

After reports Wednesday that Iraqi forces had suspended the fighting, the prime minister denied the rumors and blamed them on IS.

IS propaganda: 'America is relying on their Shiite dogs'

In the latest issue of IS’s propaganda magazine, Dabiq, the group argues that Shiites are now ready for a full-on “war” against Iraq’s Sunnis after years of assassinating “scholars, intellectuals, doctors and engineers.” IS says this is part of a larger sectarian conflict being waged across the region.


Air Force Research Institute (AFRI)

· Strategic Studies Quarterly, Summer 2016, v. 10, no. 2 http://www.au.af.mil/au/ssq/Index.asp

o Sustaining and Enhancing the US Military’s Technology Edge

o Why US Nuclear Force Numbers Matter

o China’s Nuclear Threat Perceptions

o Iran’s Path Dependent Military Doctrine

o Biotech Business Lessons for Defense Acquisition

o A Reality Check on a Cyber Force

o Autonomy and the Future Force

Air University

· Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2016, v. 30, no. 2 http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/archivepage.asp?id=43

o Fight the Base, Recover the Base, Win the War!

o Thinking beyond the Books: Sociological Biases of Our Military Institutions

o Institutional Memory and the US Air Force

o Command and Control of Joint Air Operations through Mission Command

o Flexible, Smart, and Lethal: Adapting US SEAD Doctrine to Changing Threats

o An Imperfect Understanding: The Air Force's Transition to Diversity and Inclusion

o Leading the Development of Concepts of Operations for Next-Generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft

o Intelligence Support for the F-35A Lightning II