Apr 28, 2012

India Blows Past China’s Smokescreen

In its missile test, Delhi shows it knows not to trust Beijing—or rely on Washington

Smart people and smart nations judge governments more on what they do than on what they say. India’s successful test of an Agni-V long-range, nuclear-capable missile shows the shrewdness of the world’s largest democracy. Delhi has looked past smokescreens from Beijing and Washington to judge hard realities. 

In response to India’s improved ability to deter China’s own nuclear arsenal, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said "India and China are not rivals but cooperative partners. We believe the two countries should cherish the hard-won momentum of sound bilateral relations." 

But Delhi increasingly knows from Beijing’s conduct that this is not so. China cooperates in Kashmir with Pakistan, which uses terrorists as instruments of statecraft against India. Many Indians are knowledgeable about the nature of China’s government, having heard about it from some 150,000 Tibetans who have fled oppression to arrive in India, and who no longer have a country of their own. 

Elsewhere, Beijing’s conduct is hardly more comforting. Earlier this month, a Chinese general said the Philippines was facing its "final chance" to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea—presumably on terms favorable to China. Beijing then initiated a standoff with the Philippine Navy, which had tried to evict Chinese fishing boats operating illegally in Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Last May, Chinese patrol boats damaged a Vietnamese oil survey ship in Hanoi’s EEZ. Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also recently been in the crosshairs of Beijing’s diplomats and warriors. 

Prudence dictates that Delhi be prepared for similar Chinese treatment of India’s interests. Ordinarily, a strong U.S. counterforce in the Pacific and Indian Oceans would allay some Indian concerns about Beijing. That has been a key to relative peace in the postwar era. But India’s missile launch is another sign Delhi perceives this could be changing. 

Indeed, Delhi can judge President Obama’s claim of a strategic "pivot to Asia" to be mendacious. True, Mr. Obama announced the new intermittent stationing of up to 2,500 U.S. Marines in northern Australia as part of the "pivot." They augment U.S. troops in Japan and South Korea. But deterring Chinese aggression and altering Beijing’s behavior depend on friendly naval, aviation and nuclear assets—and increasingly on missile defense and cyber capabilities. Both Beijing and Delhi can see the U.S. Navy and Air Force steadily shrinking, and now set to be frog-marched off a cliff through imminent budget cuts and mismanaged procurement. 

India and China also know that the dispatch of a tiny contingent of Marines 3,700 miles from Beijing is nearly irrelevant. It is arguably worse than doing nothing. The force and its location are suspiciously configured not to upset Beijing. It reinforces the perception that Washington is unable to confront Beijing seriously or coherently. President Obama’s decision last year not to sell Taiwan new F-16s—three levels of quality below America’s top fighter jet—confirms Washington’s inability to identify and treat accordingly those who are its friends, and those who are not its friends. Both groups have in common the realization that Mr. Obama’s "pivot" is more about rhetorical cover for American withdrawal from the Middle East and Central Asia than deterring China. 

Delhi presumably sees little help on the horizon. A second Obama term would likely resemble his first. Mr. Obama’s all-but-certain opponent in the November presidential election, Mitt Romney, has used tougher language on China and called for a larger U.S. Navy and Air Force. But he declares on his website: "Our objective is not to build an anti-China coalition." He furthermore has reserved most of his ire at Beijing for its trade and currency policies. These are telltale signs of politicians who are willing to shadowbox Beijing when it is useful with voters, but who are unwilling to push back seriously against Beijing’s security offenses. 

An improved military is not the only tool Indians are using to grapple with China. While remaining open to expanded investment and commerce, Indians have been treating China’s officials to a degree of candor seldom heard from senior Obama administration officials. Narendra Modi, the popular center-right chief minister of the prosperous Indian state Gujarat, was blunt on a trade-focused mission he undertook to China last November. Despite India’s "look east" economic policy, Mr. Modi nonetheless condemned Chinese military cooperation with Pakistan, claims Beijing makes on Indian territory and Chinese detention of Indians from his state without trial—allegedly for running a ring to smuggle diamonds from Hong Kong. 

Indians will increasingly judge Beijing by its actions rather than its words. They hold Washington to the same standard. Delhi has the means and motivation for a stronger diplomatic and military posture to deal with China. Other governments should too. 

Mr. Yates was deputy national security adviser to the vice president from 2001 to 2005. Mr. Whiton was a State Department senior adviser from 2003 to 2009. They are respectively the C.E.O. and principal of D.C. International Advisory.

Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal.

Apr 27, 2012

Nepal Maoists: Real fight or a ploy?

By N. P. Upadhyaya
Kathmandu: Whether the new constitution would be delivered on time or not is not sure, (chances are bright yet as Muni has told us all) however, what is for definite is that by that time, the former NOIDA sheltered Nepal Maoists will have remained bogged down in an unmatched inner party squabble. Marpeet can’t be ruled out.
A violent ideology based, likely to be associated with physical mugging; dangerous clash is very much on the cards if one were to believe the programs now being charted by the Mohan Baidya panel which has the sole objective of exposing Party Chairman Dahal’s financial misdeeds.
The hardliner panel believes that they were in possession of some “authentic documents” which were sufficient enough to prove that their own party Chairman Dahal had been involved in financial irregularities and, in the process, had already pocketed State money allocated for real or even fake militias residing then in the cantonments.
Were the caged militias a milking cow for some? Mahara who used to receive the Bank Cheques from the State could shed some light on this issue. But will Mahara or the Company Commanders?  
The money thus embezzled runs in billions.
No wonder that the opinion differing section will soon drag Chairman Dahal to the CIAA first and is planning to forward a copy of their appeal to the Public Accounts Committee of the Nepalese parliament and also to the National Vigilance Commission.
Calculated ambush but with required documents.  
Whether these authorities will dare to initiate actions or even investigation as demanded by the Baidya panel will tentatively determine the real face of the former radical revolutionaries who spoke of transforming the entire Nepali society across the country. Personal transformation has already been accomplished. Development perhaps begins from one’s own home first. The new Charter must incorporate this proviso which will encourage others to develop simultaneously.  At the approaching end of Nepali civilisation, each and every Nepali will have by then developed.
Interestingly, the dissenting panel chief, Mohan Baidya, better late than never, has admitted in public that he too had his share in elevating the stature of Chairman Dahal in the institutionalisation of the theory of Prachanda-Path.
“I too have committed a slip-up and I thus must repent for my excessive leaning towards Prachanda during the people’s war period”, so says Mohan Baidya, as reported by the Nepali media.
Late repentance. But is this enough?
Thus the stage is set for a dangerous fight- to- finish coming into existence if things go as expected by the dissenting panel and hoped by many anti-Maoists across the country.
But is this fight for real or just a calculated stage show in order to distance the writing of the constitution? To recall, the Maoists know and have the expertise on how to keep other parties guessing of their impending moves.
Some opine that it is just a structured move to prolong the tenure of Babu Ram led government even if the Charter is not drafted on time. Yet some others authentically claim that Baidya panel’s charges hurled upon Chairman Dahal is a real one simply because this time around the dissenting panel has officially declared Chairman Dahal as a RED Traitor.
Such an allegation can’t just be taken as a theatrical performance instead the Baidya panel is now determined to bring Chairman Dahal’s prestige to the footpath by cutting his late Girija-NOIDA extended wings.
This allegation has some substance in that hundreds of disqualified and the militias who opted for voluntary retirement jointly claim that the money that had been earmarked for them by the State while being inside the cantonments till the other day as monthly salaries either did not approach them or even if it approached then a substantial amount from their regular salaries were missing.
The disgruntled militias now believe that the missing money finally to have finally entered into Chairman Dahal’s pocket through his trusted PLA Commanders. The unregistered Nepali bank.
High placed sources now claim that Mohan Baidya has suddenly become stronger because now he enjoys the unconditional support of those militias who have concluded that they have been duped by the party and the Chairman. Dahal may have been awaiting trying times for himself.
Other sources indicate that the militias who preferred voluntary retirement too have gone into the fold of Mohan Baidya and thus a strengthened Baidya may have thus decided to expose his party Chairman this time around. By the way, Mohan Baidya is already in connection with the men belonging to various geographical locations across the country from where he expects support to his panel in his mission which is to smear Prachanda’s political credentials as a revolutionary of the highest order. 
It is in the rumour that Mohan Baidya is in contact with the former Royalists whose combined strategy, if it were a real one, is to prove that the 2005-6 political change has done more harm than good to the nation.
This too sounds logical in that the victims of the 2005-6 revolution have reasons to come closer. But wasn’t Baidya himself a key man of the People’s War which devastated his own motherland the scars of which could yet be observed here and there?  Will he now apologise? He should if he is really an ideologue.  
Now it remains to be seen on how the Baidya team takes up the “expose Prachanda campaign” to its desired height which will perhaps chart the impending course of Nepali politics.
In sum, if the inner party wrangling of the Maoists takes a frightening dimension then the country is for sure to embrace a more difficult period which might encourage either the Nepal President or the Nepal Army to jump into politics under this or that pretext. After all the country must be saved.
The declaration of emergency could be easiest option indeed. This option is being discussed, analysts have been told. In case the urgent situation is declared, interesting would be to watch how the common population honour the changed political situation?
The Dahal camp though takes the Baidya group as anti-nationals.
How the old friendly aliens handle this tricky situation will be no less interesting to observe.  
Settling the current dispute, even remaining in the dark, will allow one readymade Card to keep it under the sleeves which could once again be used against Nepal much the similar way as it had been in the past. The players may change but the ideas will not which is to keep Nepal in a troubled state until Nepal as a nation-state submits.
Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com 

Apr 26, 2012

The India-China Rivalry

By Robert D. Kaplan

The cause of the new rivalry is the collapse of distance brought about by the advance of military technology. ByRobert D. Kaplan. Republished with permission of STRATFOR

As the world moves into the second decade of the 21st century, a new power rivalry is taking shape between India and China, Asia's two behemoths in terms of territory, population and richness of civilization. India's recent successful launch of a long-range missile able to hit Beijing and Shanghai with nuclear weapons is the latest sign of this development.

This is a rivalry borne completely of high-tech geopolitics, creating a core dichotomy between two powers whose own geographical expansion patterns throughout history have rarely overlapped or interacted with each other. Despite the limited war fought between the two countries on their Himalayan border 50 years ago, this competition has relatively little long-standing historical or ethnic animosity behind it.

The signal geographical fact about Indians and Chinese is that the impassable wall of the Himalayas separates them. Buddhism spread in varying forms from India, via Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to Yunnan in southern China in the third century B.C., but this kind of profound cultural interaction was the exception more than the rule.

Moreover, the dispute over the demarcation of their common frontier in the Himalayan foothills, from Kashmir in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, while a source of serious tension in its own right, is not especially the cause of the new rivalry. The cause of the new rivalry is the collapse of distance brought about by the advance of military technology.

Indeed, the theoretical arc of operations of Chinese fighter jets at Tibetan airfields includes India. Indian space satellites are able to do surveillance on China. In addition, India is able to send warships into the South China Sea, even as China helps develop state-of-the-art ports in the Indian Ocean. And so, India and China are eyeing each other warily. The whole map of Asia now spreads out in front of defense planners in New Delhi and Beijing, as it becomes apparent that the two nations with the largest populations in the world (even as both are undergoing rapid military buildups) are encroaching upon each other's spheres of influence -- spheres of influence that exist in concrete terms today in a way they did not in an earlier era of technology.
And this is to say nothing of China's expanding economic reach, which projects Chinese influence throughout the Indian Ocean world, as evinced by Beijing's port-enhancement projects in Kenya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. This, too, makes India nervous.

Because this rivalry is geopolitical -- based, that is, on the positions of India and China, with their huge populations, on the map of Eurasia -- there is little emotion behind it. In that sense, it is comparable to the Cold War ideological contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, which were not especially geographically proximate and had little emotional baggage dividing them.

The best way to gauge the relatively restrained atmosphere of the India-China rivalry is to compare it to the rivalry between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan abut one another. India's highly populated Ganges River Valley is within 480 kilometers (300 miles) of Pakistan's highly populated Indus River Valley. There is an intimacy to India-Pakistan tensions that simply does not apply to those between India and China. That intimacy is inflamed by a religious element: Pakistan is the modern incarnation of all of the Muslim invasions that have assaulted Hindu northern India throughout history. And then there is the tangled story of the partition of the Asian subcontinent itself to consider -- India and Pakistan were both borne in blood together.
Partly because the India-China rivalry carries nothing like this degree of long-standing passion, it serves the interests of the elite policy community in New Delhi very well. A rivalry with China in and of itself raises the stature of India because China is a great power with which India can now be compared. Indian elites hate when India is hyphenated with Pakistan, a poor and semi-chaotic state; they much prefer to be hyphenated with China. Indian elites can be obsessed with China, even as Chinese elites think much less about India. This is normal. In an unequal rivalry, it is the lesser power that always demonstrates the greater degree of obsession. For instance, Greeks have always been more worried about Turks than Turks have been about Greeks.

China's inherent strength in relation to India is more than just a matter of its greater economic capacity, or its more efficient governmental authority. It is also a matter of its geography. True, ethnic-Han Chinese are virtually surrounded by non-Han minorities -- Inner Mongolians, Uighur Turks and Tibetans -- in China's drier uplands. Nevertheless, Beijing has incorporated these minorities into the Chinese state so that internal security is manageable, even as China has in recent years been resolving its frontier disputes with neighboring countries, few of which present a threat to China.

India, on the other hand, is bedeviled by long and insecure borders not only with troubled Pakistan, but also with Nepal and Bangladesh, both of which are weak states that create refugee problems for India. Then there is the Maoist Naxalite insurgency in eastern and central India. The result is that while the Indian navy can contemplate the projection of power in the Indian Ocean -- and thus hedge against China -- the Indian army is constrained with problems inside the subcontinent itself.

India and China do play a great game of sorts, competing for economic and military influence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But these places are generally within the Greater Indian subcontinent, so that China is taking the struggle to India's backyard.

Just as a crucial test for India remains the future of Afghanistan, a crucial test for China remains the fate of North Korea. Both Afghanistan and North Korea have the capacity to drain energy and resources away from India and China, though here India may have the upper hand because India has no land border with Afghanistan, whereas China has a land border with North Korea. Thus, a chaotic, post-American Afghanistan is less troublesome for India than an unraveling regime in North Korea would be for China, which faces the possibility of millions of refugees streaming into Chinese Manchuria.

Because India's population will surpass that of China in 2030 or so, even as India's population will get gray at a slower rate than that of China, India may in relative terms have a brighter future. As inefficient as India's democratic system is, it does not face a fundamental problem of legitimacy like China's authoritarian system very well might.

Then there is Tibet. Tibet abuts the Indian subcontinent where India and China are at odds over the Himalayan borderlands. The less control China has over Tibet, the more advantageous the geopolitical situation is for India. The Indians provide a refuge for the Tibetan Dalai Lama. Anti-Chinese manifestations in Tibet inconvenience China and are therefore convenient to India. Were China ever to face a serious insurrection in Tibet, India's shadow zone of influence would grow measurably. Thus, while China is clearly the greater power, there are favorable possibilities for India in this rivalry.

India and the United States are not formal allies. The Indian political establishment, with its nationalistic and leftist characteristics, would never allow for that. Yet, merely because of its location astride the Indian Ocean in the heart of maritime Eurasia, the growth of Indian military and economic power benefits the United States since it acts as a counter-balance to a rising Chinese power; the United States never wants to see a power as dominant in the Eastern Hemisphere as it itself is in the Western Hemisphere. That is the silver lining of the India-China rivalry: India balancing against China, and thus relieving the United States of some of the burden of being the world's dominant power.

Apr 25, 2012


By B.Raman

We don’t need Agni-V, the intermediate range ballistic missile that we successfully tested on April 19,2012, to give ourselves a deterrent capability against Pakistan. We need it only for a deterrent capability against China.

2. Agni-V is a Chinese-centric missile. The Chinese rightly know it and would be evaluating any changes required in their defence strategy vis-à-vis India in the light of India having at its disposal a missile capable of hitting targets in mainland China, including Beijing. The operational missiles that we have at our disposal now are in a position to successfully target Chinese-occupied Tibet and Western China such as Sichuan, which are not yet economically as developed as Eastern China. Once Agni V becomes operational, India should be in a position to target those parts of Eastern China on which its economic prosperity depends.

3. China’s plans to protect itself against a possible Indian missile strike have to cover the whole of China, instead of only Western China as it is till now. Our intelligence agencies have to be on the look-out for indications of Chinese thinking on this subject.

4. While we are now in a strategically better position to protect ourselves against China by discouraging Chinese temptations to intimidate us with its missile capability, this does not mean that our capability to protect ourselves tactically against China will improve with the induction of Agni V into our arsenal.

5. Our ability to protect ourselves tactically will depend on our conventional capability to deter a surprise Chinese strike across the Himalayas to occupy areas---particularly in Arunachal Pradesh which it describes as southern Tibet--- that it claims as its territory.

6. During the last 10 years, the entire Chinese military planning vis-à-vis India has been focussed on giving itself such a surprise strike capability. Its improvement of its road and rail networks in Western China, particularly in Tibet, its attempts for road-rail connectivity with Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, its improvement of its air bases in Chinese-occupied Tibet and live firing air exercises in Tibet are part of its plans to strengthen its surprise strike capability.

7. Our Army did badly in the 1962 Sino-Indian war not because it was a bad fighting force, but because our policy-makers had not given it the required capability to neutralise a Chinese surprise strike. If you do not give the Army the required capability, you cannot blame it for doing badly.

8.Have we now learnt the right lessons from history and given the Army the capability to blunt a surprise Chinese strike and throw them back after inflicting a prohibitive cost on them? Unless we confront the Chinese with the prospects of a prohibitive cost and outcome if they indulge in a surprise strike as they did in 1962, the temptation on their part to launch a surprise strike, if they lose patience with the border talks, will remain.

9. While we are steadily closing the gaps in our strategic military capabilities with China, the gaps in our tactical capabilities remain and need to be identified and redressed. In our euphoria over the successful Agni V test, we should not lose sight of the continuing gaps in tactical capabilities and the need to close them.

10. The tactical situation that we face today is less favourable than what the Chinese face. In 1962, China had no military relationship worth the name with Pakistan. Today, China has a multi-dimensional military relationship with Pakistan, much of it focussed around the Gilgit-Baltistan axis. In 1962, China had no military-related presence in our periphery. Today, it has in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In 1962, we didn’t have to worry about the Chinese Air Force and Navy. Today, we have to.

11. In 1962, the war plans of the Chinese Air Force were largely focussed on Taiwan. Today, there are indications of a partial shifting of the thinking of their Air Force towards India. In 1962, they had no Navy worth the name. Today, they have a Navy increasingly capable of operations in the Indian Ocean.

12. It is my assessment that if the Chinese mount a surprise tactical strike across the Himalayas now, it will be a joint Army-Air force operation. It will be a lightning strike designed to satisfy their territorial objectives in the shortest possible time without running the risk of a prolonged war. The role of their Navy will be insignificant for some years to come.

13. We have to have a multi-pronged strategy designed to enable us to pre-empt a tactical Chinese strike with the co-operation of our Tibetan friends and to blunt their strike and throw them back if pre-emption fails. Such a strategy would call for better intelligence collection, better road-rail-air connectivity to the border areas, more well-equipped bases near the border from where our Army and Air Force can operate and a better logistics trail well-tested during peace time.

14. We have already taken steps towards giving shape to such a multi-pronged strategy in the Himalayan area, but the progress in implementation has been slow. Our policy-makers should pay urgent attention to this. Our strategic and tactical thinking continues to be largely Pakistan-centric.

15. Whatever Chinese-centric thinking there has been is largely in the context of our power projection with US blessing. We must remember : If there is another limited border war with China imposed on us by Beijing, the US will have no role in helping us. We have to fight and win the war alone. Are we in a position to do so?

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )