23 September 2016

***Pak Terror in Uri-What needs to be done?

By Bhaskar Roy
22 Sep , 2016

The Pakistan-based terrorist strike on an Indian army camp in Uri, Kashmir in the early hours of September 18, has put enormous pressure on Prime Minister Modi to retaliate. Seventeen Indian soldiers were martyred and around thirty injured, some of them critically.

A distinctive element of this attack were the arms and munitions the terrorists used. Apart from AK-47 rifles that Pakistani terrorists normally use, they had grenade launchers and incendiary munitions containing highly flammable white phosphorus, which causes devastating fires .The Indian soldiers who were sleeping at that time were burnt to death as their tents and POL dumps caught fire. The arms and ammunition recovered after the terrorists were eliminated revealed Pakistan ordnance factory markings on them. Most of these lethal weapons are used in actual war and are not available in Pakistan’s arms bazaars .Only the Pakistani army controls access to them.

Initial investigations concluded that the terrorist organization that conducted the operation was the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM).The January 2016 attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot, near the Pak border was carried out by the JEM too. India has been trying to list JEM chief Masood Azhar an international terrorist in the United Nations Committee, but China has put a “hold” on it on “technical” grounds. China’s advice to India semi-officially is to talk to Pakistan, and if Pakistan agrees with the Indian demand, Beijing would have no problem!

A fabulous proposition from China! Aspiring to be a great world power China claims to be a responsible player in the global arena. China shouts from the roof-tops that it is fighting against the “three evils” (separatism, religious extremism, terrorism), and yet supports terrorism that plagues a neighbour but not itself. Sooner rather than later, the Chinese will realize that what goes around comes around. Religious extremist groups such as the al-Qaeda, Islamic State and others are maintaining a log-book of the Chinese establishment’s atrocities against their Muslim citizens. If they cannot hit inside China they will hit the Chinese outside China. And this is beginning to happen.

*** What after Uri attack?

By K.N. Pandita
22 Sep , 2016

All five permanent members of Security Council have condemned the attack on Uri army camp. However, their language is not the same and condemnation messages are carefully worded. For example, China has issued a subtle warning that the CPEC should not meet with any damage. 

Uri attack has happened because Kashmir traitors had begun lambasting Pakistan for her cowardice of not keeping the promise made to the fidayeen of launching massive attack on Kashmir once internal disruption and subversion reached its climax in the valley. Even China, keeping close eye on developments in the valley, was critical of Pakistan for letting Kashmiri traitors down. That is why China, the lone P-5 member, opposed designating Hafiz Saeed of LeT by the Security Council. The epicenter of Kashmir imbroglio has shifted to Beijing after Pakistan found her proxy war in Kashmir was turning a damp squib.

No doubt, the death of 18 soldiers is shocking and agonizing. However, it is not the one that endangers world peace. Moreover, the soldiers are from the Third World. Therefore, in the eyes of western countries, lip service is more than sufficient that India should expect. They will make U-turn if India strikes back. Be clear about it.

Five meetings of top political, military and security brass of the country have been held and Uri attack deliberated upon. One of these was chaired by the Prime Minister. It reflects sense of seriousness and urgency, definitely different from what we have seen in the past.

Pakistan is desperate that India should retaliate militarily. The attack was well timed to synchronize with the UN General Assembly meeting in NY. If India retaliated militarily and massively, Pakistan would find opportunity ripe to shed tears of feigned victimhood so that GA absolves her of terrorist state tag.

*** The Silent Chinese Invasion

By Bhaskar Dutta Baruah

22 Sep , 2016

In the 1950’s the People’s Republic of China upped its ante for occupying Tibet. In the year 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama escaped from his land and the Chinese occupation of Tibet was ‘complete’.

Besides getting a big boost in its territorial expanse, access to SE Asia and mastery over the huge natural resources of Tibet, China gained control over forty-six per cent of the world’s population (as per current figures), who depend upon rivers originating in Tibet – these rivers include the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween and Mekong.

China’s ambitious plans of becoming a major world power started with this occupation, which the world ignored as an “internal matter”, without realising that it was soon going to be changed in many ways…

China’s ambitious plans of becoming a major world power started with this occupation, which the world ignored as an “internal matter”, without realising that it was soon going to be changed in many ways by this development and these changes started with India’s sensitive frontier regions.

Since the 1960s, China’s unprecedented progress in all tangible spheres like industry, trade, power generation, cultural propaganda etc, have not been in the interest or safeguards of the world. It has adopted a multi-pronged approach towards world domination, something like what the USA had adopted much earlier, but India (especially the northeast and J&K) has much to fear from the policies and demands of this stealthy and overpopulated neighbour controlling our water sources.

Water As A Weapon

Uri: Signals & lessons

Patralekha Chatterjee

Of what use are expensive fighter planes and submarines and state-of-the art armoury if we can’t provide basic protection to our soldiers? This is the lesson of Uri we must not forget.

There are many ways you can react to the dastardly terrorist attack on the Army camp in Uri, close to the Line of Control with Pakistan. Personally, the one image that brought home the human toll of terror was the teardrop rolling down the cheeks of one of the three daughters of slain soldier Naik Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi, among the 18 killed in the pre-dawn attack.

That image of the young girl who had just lost her father knocked one in the jaw. But the three sisters did not let grief immobilise them. Along with their classmates, they headed towards school and took their first semester examinations. That is what their father would have wanted them to do, they said.

This is what living with terrorism means.

Since the attack on the Uri Army camp, experts have spouted zillions of words on what India should do, can do and the pros and cons of each step. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is all set to take over the probe into the Uri attack. The discussions on prime time television will go on.

A pirouette on Pakistan


Through every attack from across the border the government has flipped and flopped. Until India builds a coherence in its own strategy, it will continue to face such challenges from Pakistan
In February this year, shortly after the attack in Pampore, Jammu and Kashmir, a diplomat belonging to a ‘friendly’ country delicately asked an unusual question. His Foreign Ministry headquarters were asking if they should send a message condemning the terrorist attack in which three Army men, two Central Reserve Police Force personnel and a civilian had been killed in a siege which bore resemblance to the Pathankot attack a month before. The problem, he explained, was that the Indian government itself was making no statements on the incident, and he wasn’t sure if statements of support were welcome or not. A few days after the Pampore incident on February 20, the Ministry of External Affairs had sought to play it down, saying only that the matter was “still being investigated”. Eventually, the Pampore incident, despite the obvious strains of evidence linking it to Pakistan-based groups that officials on the ground pointed to, was buried. At the time, the Indian and Pakistani National Security Advisers (NSAs) were still talking to each other “regularly”, said the government, and a Pakistani investigation team was coming to Pathankot airbase to survey evidence.

It is only now, after the Uri tragedy of September 18, that India has brought up the number of attacks and attempted infiltrations across the Line of Control (LoC) this year. “Seventeen such attempts have been interdicted at or around the LoC, resulting in the elimination of 31 terrorists and preventing their intended acts of terrorism,” Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit when he summoned him on Wednesday. In fact, there have also been more than 20 attacks on security force installations in Jammu and Kashmir in the past two years, including the Pampore attack; another 15 were foiled.

India-US: National Discourse Needed On LEMOA – Analysis

By N Sathiya Moorthy*
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

The India-US LEMOA – abbreviation for ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ – has triggered enough and more controversies in this country even before the proverbial ink had dried and the agreement itself is tested on the ground. It however looks as if the Modi government could have discussed it inside and/or outside Parliament, to arrive at a ‘national consensus’, with the medium and long-term future of the agreement in mind.

There are no free lunches in international politics. LEMOA is thus a ‘fair’ exchange for the US backing India on civil nuclear deal. It is anybody’s guess if and why the Manmohan Singh government sought and obtained ‘national consensus’ on the defence agreement. There was open opposition to the nuclear deal, and the Left parties withdrew support to United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-I on this score. It does not mean that the present-day government should not have had a transparent deal of the LEMOA kind.

Unlike all predecessors, the Modi leadership swears by transparency in all dealings, especially on the defence and strategic fronts. The government has promised to present LEMOA to parliament and the people of this country, post facto. If the government is convinced that LEMOA is only about logistics support and exchanges of a non-combatant kind, there is no justification for such pre-signature secrecy.

Reprisal For Uri Attack: At Time And Place Of Indian Choosing – Analysis

By Cecil Victor*
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

In the clamour for “befitting reply” to Pakistan for the Uri attack, the Indian Army Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) has said that it will come at the time and place of our choosing. Good and sensible because Pakistan did not plan the attack without taking into account and making preparations for an immediate Indian response. India has refused to walk into the trap.

First the timing of the reprisals. September is Pakistan’s season of madness. All its major operations against India have occurred in and around this month in the hope that the issue will, once again, be internationalized during the meetings of the UN General Assembly which happen in September. By holding its hand, India has already set in motion a diplomatic offensive that has evoked encouraging results. The most gratifying is the cancellation of the joint military operations between Russia and Pakistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, or what Pakistan calls ‘Azad Kashmir’. Let us wait and see how many nations support Pakistan in defending the indefensible.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has raised the Uri attack with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but Indians would like to see what action America takes and what exactly would the spirit of the recently signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the US hold. We must not lose sight of the fact that by its brainless or very diabolically calculated manoeuvres in Iraq, Washington has created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Ditto by Britain and France in Libya. The former is a threat to the whole stretch from the Mediterranean to the Pacific and the Al Shabab/Boko Haram/ISIS combine is already in full swing along the eastern seaboard of the African continent.

Post-Uri Attack: Coordination Between India, Iran And Afghanistan Needed To Cut Pakistan To Size – OpEd

By Lt Gen P. C. Katoch
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

The slanging match at UN General Assembly (UNGA) is already underway. Pakistan has already accused India of stage managing the terrorist attack in Uri to divert attention from Kashmir. And this is not the first time Pakistan has displayed such brazenness. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will go hyper to talk about Indian atrocities in Kashmir and need for plebiscite in accordance with the 1948 UN Resolution on Kashmir. The world is perhaps unaware that: one, the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was legally ceded to India in 1947; two, the said UN resolution marked Pakistan as aggressor and that is why Pakistan was required to withdraw its forces from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK); three, issue of plebiscite is dead because Pakistan has deliberately changed the demography of PoK and the 1972 India-Pakistan Shimla Agreement made the UN resolution redundant; four, result of the first ever poll on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC ) in J&K conducted by Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), UK in conjunction with King’s College during 2009-2010 brought out that 98% of people in J&K do not wish to be part of Pakistan and 50% of people in PoK do not wish to remain with Pakistan; five, Pakistan has been waging a proxy war in J&K and inducing Wahabism but only 15% population on 7% territory of J&K is affected, and; six, pellet gun casualties in J&K are nothing compared to the aerial and artillery bombardment and genocide that Pakistan has been doing in Baluchistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Uri terrorist attack was masterminded by Pakistan through Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists surprising the army in the early hours of the morning, lobbing incendiary grenades and then spraying bullets, some of the grenades setting the diesel dump on fire. 19 soldiers are already reported dead and some 30 injured. 13 of those reportedly killed were in two tents that caught fire. The four terrorists, all foreigners, were eventually gunned down. All four were carrying items with Pakistani markings including map, GPS, explosives (RDX and TNT), a matrix sheet of codes and notes in Pashto besides AK 47 rifles and under-barrel grenade launchers. This is not the first time that Pakistan has used JeM to attack India.

Kashmir Unrest: Indian State Needs To Understand Reality Of Everyday Resistance – OpEd

By Reeta Tremblay*
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Spiralling unrest has continued in the Kashmir Valley since the July 8 killing of the home-grown Hizbul commander Burhan Wani by the security forces. More than 75 people have been killed and about 15,000 people—some two-thirds civilians—have been injured (official estimates are 62 killed, of which only 2 security forces personnel; with 7,550 civilians and 5,560 security personnel injured). More than 500 people have lost their eyesight as a result of the short-range firing of pellet guns by the security forces used in handling large-scale mass protests and stone pelleting by young men.

Never before has the Valley seen such unrelenting violence, literally on a daily basis. And never before has the Valley witnessed Kashmiri people from all walks of life and from every corner (in all its ten districts) united against the actions of the security forces and united in expressing demands for ‘azadi’ (freedom). Public expression of grief at the death and injury of their loved ones has been met with anger and frustration by both the Indian and the state governments, including the state police. City streets have become the sites for contestation between the security forces and the resisting Kashmiris on almost on a daily basis.

Day-to-day living has been interrupted by the unrelenting imposition of curfews, by restrictions on mobility and communication including the usage of mobile phones, internet services and by the control over information through the censorship of press (the latter, however, short-lived due to widespread national and international condemnation). With the closure of all educational institutions, children have been witnesses to the incessant violence and grief. The images of people with pellet gun injuries and the frequently resulting loss of vision will remain etched in the memories of this new generation, adding to the previous multiple sets of memories of what Kashmiris perceive as their state of subjugation, both political and religious. The 2008 Amaranth land row and 2010 mass unrest with 112 civilians killed are still fresh in their minds. And, indeed, these memories have been instrumental in making Kashmiri Muslims become increasingly aware of the hegemonic forces, thereby enlarging the possibilities for an active and continuing resistance against the State.

The End of the Saga: From Toofanis to Rafale

By Claude Arpi
21 Sep , 2016

According to PTI, Jean Yves Le Drian, French Defence Minister will land in Delhi on September 22.

He will be accompanied by the CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA (and Safran?) to seal the 7.87 billion Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.

PTI says: “Defence sources said if all goes well, the Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) will be signed on September 23.”

Apparently the cost, offsets and service details have been finalised and work is progressing on the IGA. A ‘working team’ from France is in Delhi “with their own translators are going through the contract, running into several thousand pages, with their Indian counterparts.”

It is the end of a long saga which started in 2001.

On this occasion on the conclusion of The Deal, I published below a cable sent by H.S. Malik, the Indian Ambassador to France on October 26, 1953.

The cable is addressed to the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and relates to the sales of Ouragans (Toofanis in India) aircrafts to India.

The planes were sold to India …by Dassault.

One should mention that at the time, the relations were then very tense between France and India over the French Settlements of Pondicherry, Yanaon, Mahe and Karikal.

Here is Ambassador Malik’s message.

It’s time to beat Pakistan at its own game – but India must keep its own hands clean

The task on hand is neither to defeat Pakistan nor embrace it – but to manage it.Image credit: AFP. 

For the present, then, the government seems to have decided to undertake only non-military action against Pakistan. Speaking on behalf of the government which was involved in extensive consultations throughout Monday, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that the United Nations should take up the issue and that the time had come for the world body to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.

Of course, there is some rhetoric here since designating specific countries as “state sponsors” of terrorism is a US national policy, not something that other countries follow or accept. The UN only designates entities and individuals, as it has done in the case of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed.
Fourth-generation warfare

By now it should be clear that dealing with Pakistani attacks like the one in Uri will not be a simple task. Military options are attractive, but very dangerous because of the fear that they could a) escalate to nuclear war if our strikes hit the Pakistani heartland of Punjab, or b) be insufficient to influence Pakistan to shut down its jihad machine if they are confined to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. At the end of the day, we need to understand that the task on hand is neither to defeat Pakistan nor embrace it – but to manage it in a manner that it does not derail our primary national goal – transforming the economic life of the country and its hundreds of millions of poor people.

This is where hybrid warfare comes in. Essentially it means the blending of conventional warfare with irregular warfare. But its more interesting variants include cyber warfare, lawfare and diplomatic warfare. Another term for it is fourth-generation warfare.

'Uri won't lead India to undertake major military action'

September 21, 2016

'As outrageous as the attack was, it was against a military installation in Kashmir, not a civilian target in the heartland.'

'So, for India to react disproportionately would be to invite further damage that would be much greater than that which occurred on Sunday.'

'Diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, including by having it recognised as a State-sponsor of terrorism, may not satisfy the crowd, but it will deeply affront Pakistan and add leverage against it, and will come with none of the risks that war could bring.'

IMAGE: Soldiers search for terrorists in Lachipora in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, September 20, 2016. Photograph: Umar Ganie

'If Indian armed forces entered Pakistan and succeeded in inflicting major damage on the Pakistani army and occupied territory in the Pakistani heartland,' says Dr George Perkovich, 'there is reason to think the Pakistani military would use some nuclear weapons against the incoming Indian forces to compel India to stop.'

Testifying before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces on February 25 last year, Dr George Perkovich, arguably the world's leading expert on nuclear politics in South Asia, warned that a Pakistan-inspired terrorist attack in India could provoke an Indian military retaliation and in turn provoke a Pakistani nuclear response.

Pakistan Army Chiefs’ Adventurism 2016 And India’s Options – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila 
SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Pakistan Army Chiefs have compulsively resorted to Kashmir-centric military adventurism against India based on flawed and misconceived assessments on Kashmir Valley being ripe for secession from India and a misreading of firmness of resolve of Indian political leaders in responding to their military adventurism.

The Pakistan Army supported and facilitated terrorist attacks against the Indian Army have increased for over a year now during the incumbency of the General Raheel Sharif, the present Pakistan Army Chief due to retire in November 2016. In case of General Raheel Sharif what requires to be noted is that his adventurism is not confined only to military adventurism against India but also extended to political adventurism in Pakistan’s domestic politics. For all practical purposes, he had carried out a ‘soft coup’ against Pakistan’s duly elected PM Nawaz—reflected in one of my papers of that time. Having carved a larger than life domestic political image with his disputable counter-terrorism offensive in frontier regions, General Raheel Sharif seems to be having second thoughts on living upto his January 2016 public announcement that he will not seek extension. What better way to get out of his commitment than to escalate tensions with India and thereby facilitating an extension to be thrust on him. Be as it may, what is of concern to India as to what impelled the Pakistan Army Chief to indulge in conflict-escalation with Kashmir Valley-centric contours?

Afghanistan: A Long Way From Anywhere – Analysis

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Afghanistan has been teetering at the edge of a precipice ever since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. The situation has become further precarious, if such a thing is possible at all, after the current President Ashraf Ghani took over the reins of government two years back.

The embattled nation has been in a state of persistent turmoil for the past four decades, after the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979. For the first ten years after that invasion, the country was engulfed in a US-sponsored/supported proxy war, fought by several groups of Islamists, which lasted till the Soviet withdrawal in 1988-89. The Islamist groups that had successfully pushed the Soviet Union out almost immediately started to fight each other to grab power and form the government. The result was that the nation descended into further chaos and became unstable. A power vacuum was created in the centre with no group able to deliver any semblance of governance. Into this chaos stepped the Taliban with their version of puritanical Islam and the urge to take control of the nation.

The Taliban, an Arabic word meaning student, were mainly resident in the Islamic seminaries established on the Pakistan side of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Their encroachment into Afghanistan was gradual, done with the direct aid of the Pakistan Army. In 1996, the Taliban took control of the entire country, establishing and ruling the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from then to 2001. During this period Osama bin Laden and his extremist group al Qaeda were allowed to establish themselves in the country, from where they master minded the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in 2001. This led to the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan that, in collaboration with the Northern Alliance group dethroned the Taliban and pushed them out of the country. This was punishment for support and sanctuary that was provided to al Qaeda. The US installed a new government in Kabul and almost immediately the Taliban commenced a virulent insurgency that has continued ever since.
Politically Influenced Policy Shifts

Pakistan’s Terrorism: A Case Of Dangerous Psychological Disorder? – Analysis

By Bhaskar Roy* 
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Narendra Modi, a sharp critic of Pakistan when he was in the opposition, completely changed his approach when elected an Indian Prime Minister in 2014.

The BJP won the elections with a huge majority and he could have easily hardened India’s Pakistan policy. His party and the right wing Hindutva politicians would have been only too glad to back him to the hilt. Instead, Modi did the opposite, to the surprise of many. He reached out to Pakistan, invited Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration ceremony and continued to pursue this line despite criticism at home. To be fair Sharif also responded.

Not surprisingly, however, history repeated itself in Pakistan. The deep state (the army and the ISI) stepped in with handsome support from the Pakistani foreign ministry. The Jehadi groups, the army’s acknowledged foreign policy assets like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JUD) Chief Hafeez Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) founder Masood Azhar were brought in. Terrorism against India from Pakistan continued to increase. Modi remained undeterred. His visit to Islamabad on December 25, 2015 to wish Nawaz Sharif on his birthday was reciprocated by a JEM attack on India’s air force base in Pathankot. Modi still stood his ground, allowing an investigation team from Pakistan which included an ISI Officer, to visit the airbase to collect evidence. The team came, saw and investigated, but did not allow an Indian team’s reciprocal visit to Pakistan. Indian officials decided to view the Pakistani visit as a positive move that would result in a joint counter-terrorism effort. Nothing of the sort happened.

Pakistani Intelligence Chief Will Not Attend Meeting of Regional Security Officials Because of Fallout From Terrorist Attack Inside India

September 21,2016

Pakistan intelligence chief to skip SAARC meet in India

NEW DELHI: Amidst the ongoing hostility over terror attack in Uri, Pakistan has decided not to send its intelligence chief to India to attend a conference of top security experts of SAARC countries beginning Thursday.

Director General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan Aftab Sultan will not attend the SAARC meeting and that country will be represented by an official of the Pakistan High Commission, a Home Ministry official said.

The two-day conference of the High-Level Group of Eminent Experts from South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, to be held here, is being hosted by Director of Intelligence Bureau Dineshwar Sharma and intelligence chiefs of all other SAARC nations – Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives besides India – will participate it.

Sunday’s terror attack at a military station in Uri, where 18 soldiers were killed, and the continuing unrest in Kashmir Valley for more than two months after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani led to deterioration of bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.

The four terrorists who attacked Uri had come from Pakistan and Islamabad had openly eulogised Wani’s acts, inviting sharp reactions from India.
According to a statement issued by the Home Ministry, the second meeting of the High-Level Group of Eminent Experts from SAARC countries will be held on September 22 and 23. The aim of the meeting is to strengthen SAARC anti-terror mechanism, it said.

The first such meeting was held in New Delhi in February 2012.


SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Surely you have heard the news — China has been dredging up coral reefs and creating artificial islands in the South China Sea with the purpose of enforcing their claims to “indisputable sovereignty” of their “Nine Dash Line”, and has defiantly continued to do so in the face of legal condemnation by the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration. While the reactions of the United States and other nations to China’s island-building campaign have been vocal, some U.S. analysts and experts have been largely dismissive of the new islands’ potential effects on the regional balance of power. A recent RAND study stated:

[T]hese facilities could host a handful of SAMs and fighter aircraft…[but] they are unlikely to be a significant factor in high-intensity military operations against U.S. forces beyond the first hours of a conflict.

Another analyst declared as a myth the possibility of that these new bases could alter the balance of power, stating that, “In the age of precision strike, any and almost all fixed targets can be destroyed with ease.” But the potential combination of China’s premier anti-ship and anti-air capabilities — along with the sheer, breathtaking scale of China’s island-building — call for serious consideration of the faux islands’ potential impact to U.S. diplomacy and contingency planning, as well as the need to take all possible measures to prevent their full militarization.

Going Big in the Spratly Islands: China’s New Airfields Point Major Commitment of Forces


SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

A soldier from the Iraqi Security Forces ran out of ammunition in the midst of a firefight with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in Fallujah, Iraq in May of last year. After being wounded the soldier was captured by ISIL, paraded around as a prize, and—in a scene reminiscent of the four U.S. contractors killed in 2004—was hung from Employees’ Bridge in Fallujah.

On November 13, 2014, 16 members of the Sunni Arab Albu Nimr tribe were abducted from their homes by ISIL near Tharthar Lake in Anbar province. With one woman and two children among them, the tribal members were driven to Shtyah area and all were summarily executed by ISIL fighters. Their crime: being related to Sahwa militia fighting ISIL near Hit.

The level of brutality exhibited by these executions is unlikely to shock many. Similar stories of ISIL’s atrocities have been widely reported for over two years now. However, there is a surprising difference between the two events described above. While the execution of the Iraqi soldier was proudly posted to social media by ISIL, the executions of the family members of Sahwa militia fighters was hidden. The only reason I can report the atrocity is because of aUnited Nations mission to investigate human rights violations in Iraq. What also may come as a surprise is that this pattern of disclosure and non-disclosure of executions follows a distinct pattern by ISIL in Iraq. The reasons for the pattern may point to an effective way to dissuade people from joining ISIL.

The Lessons From 9/11 for U.S. National Security

September 21, 2016

Where do we stand as a country, 15 years removed from the 9/11 attacks? In terms of national security and foreign policy, what has been the effect of 9/11 and what are its lessons going forward? 

One thing is certain: 9/11 has had huge and long-lasting effects on America and the world: an economic downturn in the United States, retaliatory American strikes and a ground war against Al-Qaeda and their Taliban sponsors in Afghanistan and Pakistan happened in the immediate aftermath. And then in 2003, an American-led invasion in Iraq for the second time in twelve years, alongside of which came a number of profound changes in domestic policy and our civil society, including the creation of huge new bureaucracies and institutional structures in the government, homegrown lone-wolf terrorists, and controversial intelligence gathering capabilities both inside the United States and worldwide.

That the federal government’s footprint in American society is considerably larger than it was just 15 years ago, in no small part because of 9/11, shows up in the public fisc, starkly: the Middle East wars total at least $4.8 trillion and maybe more, as against gross federal debt now over $19 trillion (up from $5.8 trillion the day Bush 43 took office). On 9/11/2001, the debt-to-GDP ratio stood below 60%; today it is over 104%, unprecedented in American history and now at an ominous level that historically has meant sclerosis in job and income growth, and stagnant or even declining living standards.

Adding all this up, what have the last 15 years taught us about how best to move forward? 

New Army GMLRS Alternative Warhead May Attack ISIS


A new "alternative warhead" will destroy enemy targets without leaving dangerous unexploded cluster munition "bomblets" behind, in keeping with an existing international treaty.

The Army plans to fire an upgraded, all-weather, precision-guided, ground-fired rocket which will pinpoint enemy targets at distances up to 70 or more kilometers – while removing the prospect of leaving dangerous unexploded ordnance behind, service and industry officials said.

The weapon, called Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, is being modified to adhere to the parameters of a 2008 international agreement banning the production and use of so-called “cluster munitions” which disperse a number of small explosive “bomblets” over a target area.

As a result, Lockheed and the Army are now producing a new “Alternative Warhead” for the GMLRS which complies with this international cluster munition agreement.

The first GMLRS Alternative Warhead rocket has rolled off the production line at Lockheed Martin’s Camden, Arkansas, manufacturing facility, a Lockheed statement said. 

Cluster weapons, now banned by an international agreement called the Convention on Cluster Munitions, can leave dangerous explosive materials in an area long after an attack has taken place. Naturally, this poses risks to civilians who may wind up in the general proximity of areas previously attacked by the rocket.

Will US-Russia Deal On Syria Hold? – Analysis

By Ranjit Gupta* 
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

The war in Syria is still raging after over five and half years since its outset. Several initiatives have been undertaken to try and end it – first through the Arab League, then Geneva I, Geneva II and the Vienna Process, where even a calendar of steps for bringing peace to Syria was laid out. Obviously, partisan efforts by Western countries and their Arab Gulf allies in the UN Security Council (UNSC) were defeated by Chinese and Russian vetoes.

Finally, in February 2016 the US, Russia and 19 other countries met in Munich, preceded by intensive negotiations between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and an agreement for a ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria’s civil war was announced. On 26 February, the UNSC endorsed this initiative through Resolution 2268. Special Envoys Kofi Annan and Lahkdar Brahimi had toiled without success and resigned; Stefan de Mistura continues his efforts. Despite all this, the situation within Syria has continued to steadily worsen. Given the complex ground realities, a meaningful improvement is nowhere on the horizon, let alone being imminent.

After another round of marathon negotiations conducted secretly between Kerry and Lavrov, a new deal was announced on 09 September, to bring about a ceasefire with the deal coming into effect at 7:00 pm on 12 September. Kerry outlined the main features of the deal at the press conference while announcing the same.
An Overview of the Deal

Why U.S. Policy on Russia Is Stuck in Neutral

September 20, 2016

At the Center for the National Interest last week, discussants debated the question, “Is Russia Preparing for War?” During the discussion portion of the event however, the tenor of the questions shifted from anticipating Vladimir Putin's next moves to why the United States seems to have such difficulty in dealing with Russia.

Admiral James Stavridis, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, has laid out his "six tips" for negotiating with the Kremlin. But these tactical guidelines cannot substitute for strategic objectives.

The United States faces in Russia a resurging power that does not accept the post-Cold War settlement, especially in East Europe and the Eurasian space, as definitive or normative. It also must confront a country that no longer believes that it will be given a substantive position within the Euro-Atlantic world, and, therefore, is more prepared to dispute U.S. global and regional leadership and to offer a competing vision at odds with the accepted "Washington consensus." Moscow seeks modifications and would prefer to do so via negotiation, but has also shown a willingness to risk using force to change the strategic landscape. The Kremlin is not prepared to accept the situation of the 1990s as an acceptable status quo: thus, the extent and scope of the changes that are demanded becomes the subject for analysis.

Counterfactuals Won't Solve Syria

September 20, 2016

Few observers would disagree that the ongoing civil war in Syria is the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of this century: over 450,000 have perished, and over 4.8 million have been displaced. Outside of a negotiated settlement and an enduring ceasefire, which seem unlikely, the most favorable resolution may well be one in which the various parties to the conflict simply exhaust themselves—a hypothetical that suggests how bleak the Syrian landscape has become.

It is not just the mounting scale of the tragedy there that is imposing greater pressure on the international community—the United States, in particular—to stem the carnage. A series of images has compounded the sense of urgency: in particular, that of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Kurdish child who washed ashore on a Turkish beach this past September, fully clothed and almost appearing to be sleeping; and that of Omran Daqneesh, the five-year-old Syrian child who was photographed at the back of an ambulance after having been injured in an airstrike, wearing a blank expression that belied the horrors from which he had just been extricated. There have also been wrenching clips, including that of the two brothers who embraced one another and sobbed uncontrollably upon learning that their other brother had been killed in in airstrike.

Like countless others, I shared the images of Aylan and Omran, as well as the clip of the two brothers. Increasingly, though, I question the usefulness of such dissemination. While these visuals scar our conscience and summon our outrage, after all, they do not offer prescriptive guidance; instead, their principal effect is to increase the gap between awareness and reflection. Were that collective indignation could yield prudent policy.

Term Limits for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Ratification?

September 19, 2016

In 2009, in Prague, President Obama pledged his administration would “immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty” (CTBT). This August, it was reported that since there was no progress in seven years, the president would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for an end to nuclear testing. This action only temporarily bypasses a debate on ratification in the U.S. Senate, and will nevertheless open a new round in the already bloody fight between supporters and opponents of the CTBT. In the unlikely event that the Senate takes up the CTBT debate in the first two years of the next administration, the probable outcome is still no ratification. A path has not been found to bridge the bitter divide between those who support and those who oppose passage of the CTBT.

Supporters believe that U.S. adoption of the CTBT will slow the spread of nuclear weapons and strengthen the resolve of Non-Proliferation Treaty signatories to take robust actions against those who seek to acquire weapons, without risking the safety or reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. Supporters correctly underscore the cumulative risk that the existence of any nuclear weapons presents for accident, unauthorized use and theft. Opponents believe that with appropriate measures, these risks are acceptable compared to foregoing nuclear testing forever in an uncertain world. Opponents also doubt that U.S. accession to the treaty will dissuade some countries, such as North Korea, or subnational groups, such as ISIS, from pursuing the bomb.


SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

This year is shaping to be a pivotal one for Sino-Russian defense ties. Both countries have agreed to boost the number of “exercises and events” planned for 2016. From Sept. 12 to 19, they held their sixth exercise in the Joint Sea series, conducting a naval warfighting drill in the South China Sea to enhance their ability to “jointly respond to maritime security threats.” The Joint Sea series began in 2012 as an anti-submarine warfare and maritime rescue activity off the Chinese coast, near Qingdao. With each passing year, Joint Sea has grown in scope and complexity. The August 2015 iteration was reportedly the “largest ever,” involving 23 surface ships, two submarines, over a dozen fixed-wing aircraft, and six helicopters in the Sea of Japan. The series has captivated the U.S. national security community, with some observers cautioning that Beijing and Moscow may be drifting toward an alliance. It has also caught India’s attention, with one analyst citing fears that the “growing intimacy” between both countries “could impact the balance of power in Asia.” Context is important, however. Although the uptick in Sino-Russian military cooperation is striking, it pales in comparison to the United States’ impressive portfolio of bilateral and multilateral (i.e., “combined”) exercises.

Each year, U.S. Pacific Command participates in over 1,500 exercises, training events, and professional engagements with regional militaries. The vast majority of U.S.-led exercises pass with little fanfare here in the United States, but Beijing and Moscow tend to view them through a dark lens. In June, when U.S., Indian, and Japanese forces were underway in the Philippine Sea for exercise Malabar, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang remarked, “Everyone should keep an eagle eye on their true intentions.” Likewise, Russia’s Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, slammed the 43rd-annual BALTOPS naval warfare exercise in the Baltic Sea as evidence of NATO’s “hostile policy” toward Moscow. Even U.S. officials have partaken in the war of words. Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, has criticized China and Russia for their decision to hold Joint Sea 2016 in the South China Sea — the first time the series has been held in that location. Adding to the controversy, reports abound of Chinese andRussian “spy ships” shadowing U.S.-led exercises, as well as aggressive Russian overflights and reactionary “snap” exercises.

The Future of the Army

Friends and colleagues,

This morning, we released our long-awaited report on the U.S. Army at the Atlantic Council. It is called The Future of the U.S. Army: Today, Tomorrow and the Day After Tomorrow, and is the product of over 18 months of research. It includes 50 recommendations outlining the areas we believe require action by Army leaders in order to ensure the U.S. Army remains the pre-eminent land force in the world out to 2040 and beyond.

If you missed our launch event this morning, where we spoke about the report with former Under Secretary of the Army Brad Carson and moderator Missy Ryan of theWashington Post, the webcast is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/events/webcasts/the-future-of-the-army.

The End of Annual Performance Reviews: Are the Alternatives Any Better?

Sep 19, 2016
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When it comes to workplace events that produce resentment and anxiety, few score higher than the big annual performance review. Calls to end this time-consuming and often unproductive practice have gone unheeded — until now. Recently, Adobe, Kelly Services, GE, Deloitte and PwC have ended them, and the rippling out to smaller firms and other sectors appears to be underway. To which many say: good riddance.

“It’s a big change, the extent to which it seems to be happening, and it’s happening broadly,” says Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli, who has researched the usefulness and accuracy of performance reviews. What’s happening now is nothing less than a revolution in performance management systems, he notes, and for companies that take it seriously, “it’s a fundamental change in the way to manage your employees and the relationship with them.”

Decades of unhappiness finally gave way in 2014 and 2015 to a quick dive in the annual performance appraisal, says Anna A. Tavis, a clinical associate professor in leadership and human capital management at New York University who has tracked its passing. The traditional annual review with its ranking system essentially sent the message that “here’s your grade for the year, and you can’t do anything about it, and, by the way, there are compensation consequences — that’s where the culture of fear came about, Peter is better than Paul,” says Tavis. “Then you factor in bias or that a manager might not have visibility, or doesn’t remember what 35 or 40 people have done, and there were lots of faults built into the old system.”

Europe, Unhappily Ever After

The scene at Bratislava Castle last week was a familiar one: European leaders gathered for another summit in a typically idyllic setting, where the natural beauty of their surroundings belied the deep imperfections of the union they were struggling to salvage. But now, in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the Continental bloc, delusion steeped in the ideals of an "ever-closer" union is wearing thin, and the realists in the room seem to be gradually gaining ground.

The shift in the summit's tone was to be expected; closet Euroskeptics can no longer hide behind the United Kingdom as they assert national rights and tamp down Brussels' principles. They realize that the longer Europe's leaders avoid the hard questions, opting instead to continue extolling the "spirit" of the European Union as a way to survive, the more the bloc's guardians will have to react to - rather than shape - the enormous changes bubbling up from their disillusioned electorates. As Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (who has tied his own political fate to a referendum in October) testily noted, the Bratislava gathering amounted to little more than a "boat trip on the Danube" and an "afternoon writing documents without any soul or any horizon" on the real problems afflicting Europe.

Regional Nuclear Dynamics

Subcommittee on Strategic Forces of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Summary: The most immediately pressing objective of U.S. policy should be to apply vigorous, creative diplomatic and political energy to prevent another crisis between India and Pakistan, and if one cannot be prevented, to manage it with minimal escalation.

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Donnelly, members of the subcommittee, it is an honor to testify before you. I have worked on nuclear-weapons-related issues since 1982, first with a focus on the Soviet Union, then, after 1992, on India, Pakistan and Iran, and I have written extensively on each of these countries’ nuclear programs and policies. Over the past ten years I also have analyzed nuclear dynamics in Northeast Asia, particularly Chinese and Japanese perspectives on them.

Because time here is short and the range of topics you have asked my colleagues and me to address is extensive, I have concentrated my testimony on what I think are some cutting-edge strategic challenges in Northeast Asia and South Asia that need to be more creatively addressed by U.S. policy-makers. These are problems to which no one has tidy, feasible solutions—that is, solutions that would change to our complete satisfaction the military capabilities and behaviors we want other states to change, and thereby significantly reduce risks of conflict that could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons. This is largely because the other states involved have different interests and objectives than the United States does and will search for ways to pursue them. Knowing that they cannot compete directly and symmetrically with U.S. conventional and strategic forces, these states will often seek to develop and apply asymmetric capabilities and strategies to balance U.S. power. This is especially true of two of the states under consideration – the DPRK and China – whose governments fear the United States seeks ultimately to displace them. The challenge, then, for the United States and these states is to achieve tolerable stability, avoid escalatory warfare, and establish ways of getting along through political-diplomatic processes backed by balances of power.

I have divided my testimony into five key points that describe the regional dynamics at play and suggest priority policies the United States could pursue to mitigate instabilities and risks of nuclear escalation.