Magoo on "India’s Place in China’s Geostrategic Calculus"
In mid-April, when the winter snows melt sufficiently to permit troops, tasked to secure the Line of Actual Control (LAC), start reoccupying their warm season deployments. It’s quite akin to hunting hounds released from the kennels scurrying to mark their territory and sniff out any unwanted intrusions during their confinement. Unexpected incursions are met with loud barks and ominous snarling till they retire to their accepted territories or, on rare occasions, after intervention by their handlers. Such was the nature of the incident on May 9 this year in the Depsang valley in Eastern Ladakh. Troops of both the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Indian Army advanced forward only to report that each was in violation of their country’s perception of the LAC resulting in a lot of snarling and teeth gnashing. Management of borders between troops to avoid unnecessary conflagrations is a complex and intricate function and is conducted in keeping with the larger national security matrix.
Over the years both militaries have developed a sociological structure that resolves the problems of frontline troops amicably. Their eyeball to eyeball deployment notwithstanding, for 45 years after the Nathu La incident in 1967 both armies have avoided resorting to gunfire to settle hundreds of perceived or deliberate violations of the LAC. As Mohan Guruswamy so aptly puts it “local commanders have evolved a pattern of ritualistic behaviour and local bonhomie that is very different from the rigid formalities of international politics. Both sides have invested enough to have a vested interest in keeping the peace and tranquillity of the frontier.”
Unfortunately this incident was pounced upon by a largely ignorant electronic media that in India is more wont to try to make news rather than report it. The echoes of the 1962 Sino-India war were rekindled at Daulat Baig Oldi (DBO) and the media cacophony obfuscating the national strategic imperatives blew the episode out of all proportions. They screamed for blood where none was due. To give substance to their reporting they co-opted equally ignorant politicians that in the run up to the coming elections turned a hitherto insignificant exchange between the troops in remote Ladakh into a tool to belabour a besieged Government. Party sensitivities and interest overtook national interests and imperatives.
In this media blitz the Government was forced into being seen to be to be combative thus jeopardising years of careful efforts to resolve the territorial dispute between the two countries and generate a benign if not friendly relationship that would ensure a stable and secure environment on the Asian continent. News reports preferred not to link this seasonal happening to the matrix of in which the Sino-Indian relationship is developing.
The significance of New Delhi having been selected as the first foreign port of call, after installation of the new Government in Beijing, for Premier Li Keqiang, even though protocol indicated that it was the turn of the Indian Premier to visit Beijing in reciprocation to Premier Wen Jiabao’s 2011 tour, was lost in the din and dust raised by the media.
This was further reinforced by an observation by Lei Guang, director of the 21st Century China Programme at the University of California “China at this moment does not have anything to gain from asserting itself against India. If anything, as former Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh puts it, China seems to pivot to Russia and India, even while it seems to adopt a more assertive attitude towards Japan and Southeast Asia."
Therefore, the April-May standoff at DBO came as a surprise to many China watchers and international experts leading them to believe that “India is stoking the stand-off with China, with the media highlighting the issue and continuous remarks by government and opposition leaders. While China has tried to play down the dispute, the Chinese media are increasingly discussing the possibility of confrontation with India.”
I fear we were "missing the woods for the trees". It’s a sad day when political sensitivities of a political party overtake the larger national interest at the instigation of the media screaming for blood and gore.
At times the Indian strategic community tends to dissociate the Sino-Indian equation from Beijing’s view of the global strategic environment and the primacy of its focus on the United States and the Asia Pacific region. While Beijing is concerned about its territorial integrity that draws considerable attention to its South-western border with India, the primary threat it perceives is from the US, one that is heightened by the ‘pivot to Asia Pacific’, NATO’s recent strategic alliance with Japan and, the extended strategy in the form of the ‘US Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean pivot. These strategies are indicative of an attempt to contain China a la the Cold war vis-a-vis the then Soviet Union. At the operational level Beijing is focused on developing and fielding competent military means to offset the ‘air-sea battle’ concept being put into place by the US Pacific Command.
The fixation of the United States to get India on board a strategic alliance, without which the stratagem to contain China would be a non-starter, is of greater concern to China than the localised territorial problems it has in the Himalayas. If Xi Jinping were to pressure New Delhi by offensive actions on the Sino-Indian borders it would push India into Washington’s strategic embrace. Weighing one against the other it’s obvious that China now has a strategic imperative to woo New Delhi.
Outwardly the Sino-Indian equation is seen to have frozen in the polemics of the 1962 security environment as the recent standoff between the two suggests. But that is not entirely correct. The phenomenon of globalisation that did not factor in relations between countries in the mid-20th century has driven the evolution of the global strategic environment has not left relationship between these two Asian powers unaffected. The perceptions of their domestic and external environment has created a new set of values and national interests which have driven the equation inexorably with effect on their behaviour pattern towards each other, whether it’s publicly visible or not. As Mohan Guruswamy puts it, “The new global arrangements have nevertheless worked well for all of us and the global economy has been expanding at a never before seen pace. This is now a world system without major friendships or enmities, except for the usual local ones such as India and Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Israel and the Arab world.”
National Economic growth is dependent on a secure and stable atmosphere. Stability is achieved through ensuring a benign environment by developing and maintaining friendly relationships with other countries and by creating an appropriate security apparatus capable of securing national interests beyond national shores in areas susceptible to exploitation by a hostile power.
China is dependent of sea lanes of communications (SLOC) through the India Ocean, which is dominated by the Indian sub-continent. In April China imported 23.08 million metric tons of crude oil and 41% of China's exports pass through the Indian Ocean. A conflict with India would endanger this critical commercial activity by hostile actions by the Indian Navy.
Bilateral trade is yet another fast growing factor that influence behavioural patterns between the two. According to Zhang Lizhong, Chinese consul general in Kolkata, "Our target for bilateral trade between India and China is $100 billion by 2015 compared to $66.4 billion in 2012. Trade volume between the two countries had declined to $66.4 billion from $73.9 billion in 2011.” China benefits by the huge trade surplus it enjoys with India. Lizhong went on to report that, “In 2006, India and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors. Odisha is also keen to collaborate with us for hybrid rice technology.”
Yet another issue Beijing factor that affects their relationship with New Delhi is Tibet. An area where New Delhi can constructively help or effectively undermine the sitsution through means and influences that Beijing is well aware of.
Surprisingly, during the month long stand-off on the LAC, one did not come across any analysis of what the short or mid-term costs of a limited or full-fledged conflict would be on a beleaguered national economy at this point of time. Instead the Fourth Estate concentrated on capitalising on sensationalism to swell their budgets.
A minor fracas on the border was willy-nilly attributed to Beijing. The emphasis was on vilifying the Dragon without a thought to Beijing’s priorities vis-à-vis its strategic imperatives. This was a marked difference to media and political reaction to the incidents on the Line of control (LoC) in J&K.
The fact is that in today’s global and regional environment both Asian powers have got to a point where their future growth and well-being are increasingly linked. They have points of friction and convergence that increases their levels of interdependencies for their individual national good. Both have good cause to work in consonance instead of creating mountains out of a mole hills. The point to note is that at this point of time India’s place in China’s geostrategic calculus is more important than is generally acknowledged. It needs India more than India needs it.
It was gratifying to see New Delhi hold its nerve and manoeuvre through this unseemly media blitz and political opportunism - a minefield that roused public opinion.
“A deadlock in icy desert wastelands appears to make little sense as two Asian giants increasingly work together to boost trade and bilateral ties” --- Debasish Roy Chowdhury.
By Munir Akram (Former Pak Amb to UN)
Why did Pakistan’s president attend the Nato summit in Chicago? The US had not met any of Pakistan’s conditions for resetting relations after the Salala attack: a formal apology; end to drone strikes; release of blocked military reimbursement.
Instead, it was the US which imposed a ‘condition’ for Pakistan’s participation: prior acceptance that the supply routes to Afghanistan be reopened. Following a hasty meeting, the cabinet announced that the decision to reopen the supply route had been taken and the president would attend the summit.
A surprise awaited at the summit. President Obama refused to meet the Pakistan president ‘one-to-one’ unless Pakistan agreed to the immediate release of all the ‘held up’ cargo at Karachi port. To his credit, President Zardari did not yield to this crass conditionality. This public insult was inflicted not only on the person of the president but the entire Pakistani nation. …
Magoo on "Shame in Chicago"
J.P. Donleavy used to be a popular author. He made a big splash with The Ginger Man, but many readers lost interest when it became apparent in The Saddest Summer of Samuel S and The Onion Eaters, that he kept writing the same book. Donleavy comes to mind when following efforts over the past two decades by Pakistani and Indian diplomats to negotiate confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures.
Existing measures, such as prior notifications for certain military exercises and ballistic missile flight tests, have been useful, but regrettably sparse. The Stimson Center and others helped midwife these CBMs in the 1990s, thinking they would lead to progressively more ambitious and stabilizing measures. Instead, the process of negotiating CBMs has been like peeling an onion, one thin layer at a time. Diplomatic onion peelers have viewed these CBMs as devices to alleviate external pressures after a crisis, as trading material, or as add-ons when bigger issues, like Kashmir, are properly dealt with. If authorities in India and Pakistan had viewed CBMs as worthwhile steps in and of themselves, a cruise missile flight test notification agreement and an incidents at sea agreement would have been negotiated long ago. Deals on a mutual withdrawal from the Siachen Glacier and a settlement of the Sir Creek dispute have also been within grasp for many years.
An agreement to permanently demilitarize Siachen, home of the world’s most senseless and elevated forward deployments, appears stuck because Indian negotiators have heretofore insisted on, and Pakistani negotiators have rejected, recognizing in some fashion the positions seized by the Indian Army in 1984.
Magoo on "Peeling Or Trading Onions?"
Patton on Khushab
By Jeffrey Lewis | 28 October 2011.
Source: Arms Control Wonk.
Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller, in a speech at Stanford, praised one of my students, Tamara Patton, for her outstanding work on modeling Pakistan’s Khushab Plutonium Production Complex:
I recently learned about some interesting work of a Master’s Candidate at Monterey Institute, Tamara Patton. Patton is focusing her research on the production capacity of Pakistan’s Khushab Plutonium Production Complex. She is using freely accessible geospatial tools to gather and analyze information about the complex’s capacity levels. The really interesting part comes when she takes the open source satellite images of the complex and turns those into 3-D models using a freely available program called Google Sketch-up. This program constructs the models with dimensions that Patton ascertained using tools in Google Earth and basic trigonometry. The model is then placed on the map and textured using observable features. This modeling can be used both as tool of analysis and as a means of clearly visualizing and communicating results.
Tamara is modeling Khushab for her honor’s thesis, using images generously supplied by the GeoEye Foundation. She hasn’t finished yet, but it looks like she will decisively settle the little spat about the size of the second Khushab reactor. (I am strongly encouraging her to submit her final thesis for publication in a peer reviewed journal. It’s one hell of a model.)
Until then, you can see one of Tamara’s early presentations on Using Geospatial Analysis Tools for Nonproliferation Research. Enjoy!
Considering that Pakistan is a long standing ally on board the CENTO and recipient of modern military platforms and munitions for over half a century, it stands to reason that it is party to numerous Defence Pacts including a Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). The same pacts Washington is pressing India to get on board as a precondition to opening its doors for acquisition of military hardware. BECA comprises an exchange between The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US Department of Defense and its counterpart and client departments in India. It requires both parties to provide “Geospatial Information of any type or format resulting from the information collection, transformation, generation, portrayal, dissemination, or storing of geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic, aeronautical, topographic, hydrographic, commercial and other unclassified imagery, cartographic, cultural, bathymetric, and toponyrnic data or other types of geospatial information. Geospatial information also includes information resulting from the evaluation of topographic, hydrographic, or aeronautical features for their effect on military operations or intelligence. Geospatial information may include, but is not limited to, presentation in the following forms: topographic, planimetric, relief, or thematic maps or graphics; nautical and aeronautical charts and publications; and commercial and other unclassified imagery, as well as simulated, photographic, digital, or computerized formats”.
If Tamara Patton, a Masters student using ‘publicly available satellite images and Geospatial Analysis Tools to deduce the production capacity of Pakistan’s Khushab Plutonium Production Complex, a useful adjunct to Non-proliferation Research, it stands to reason that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US Department of Defense with access to information by virtue of BECA is better placed to determine the same in far greater detail and accuracy.Before putting a foot unwittingly into the BECA bear trap mandarins in South Block need to revisit India’s pre-eminence in Washington’s non-proliferation targeting strategy and the motives to exclude components of its military nuclear establishment from the much touted ‘Indo-US Nuclear Deal’, which has yet to fructify. In this respect BECA is a pre-requisite to the American counter proliferation targeting policy that hangs as the proverbial Damocles Sword above the Indo-US relationship.
NATO For Greater Engagement With India
By Rajat Pandit
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), even as it charts out roadmaps for a sizeable US-led military training mission in Afghanistan till 2024 and a post-conflict role in Libya, wants a deeper engagement with India in fields ranging from counter-terrorism and anti-piracy to cyber-security and ballistic missile defence (BMD). "It's important for India and NATO to have a dialogue...it will ultimately depend on India where it wants the relationship to go," said US Permanent Representative to NATO, Ivo H Daalder, adding that senior alliance officials were in touch with their Indian counterparts on it. "NATO, for instance, is getting into BMD technology in a major way...We can share knowledge, train together...We, after all, face similar threats."
India, however, remains wary of being closely associated with any multi-nation military arrangement unless it's under the UN flag, positioning itself as a neutral player. Defence Minister A K Antony has himself held such exercises should be bilateral rather than multilateral ones, over-cautious as India is about antagonizing a prickly China. Another senior official, pointing to the "shared democratic values, threats and concerns" between India and NATO countries, said New Delhi had "a very significant role" to play in Afghanistan and overall stability in the region.
As early as 1996 the London based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), that claims to be “the world’s leading authority on political-military conflict”, at its annual seminar held at Dresden, first propagated NATO enlargement. US and UK experts advocated projecting NATO’s military mantle East into Asia and South to Northern and Eastern Africa, with a view to widen the security envelope to bring these regions under their influence to ensure that they conformed with strategies that would guarantee the national interests of member states of the alliance. On being questioned whether the interests and sovereignty of regional players would be taken into account, these so called experts glossed over these issues as subservient to the needs of global (Western) stability and security.
The rough shod approach suggested that logic was trumped by the belief in US and British infallibility. The very concept of projecting the NATO military umbrella so soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union was challenged by Russia and found unpalatable by delegates from European countries. Delegates from Russia boycotted the Seminar and the Europeans loudly voiced their dissatisfaction with the proposal.
A question (posed by me the sole Indian delegate other than Shekhar Gupta of the IISS Council) on why it was necessary to project Western military power in a region where countries had a meaningful military potential to ensure the security and stability of their region, went unanswered. Subsequently we are witness to NATO’s entry into Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. These military adventures have proven disastrous for the inhabitants of these countries and their surrounding regions; millions have been killed, wounded and rendered homeless; with ‘Rendition’, torture and indiscriminate aerial bombings, human rights have been thrown out of the window; regional security and stability have been emasculated to abnormal proportions; and, not least of all have undermined the economies of the Western powers dangerously generating a far greater threat to global stability. It is in this larger matrix that India must view its national security policy. It can no longer retreat into a shell but needs to project its power potential to
(a) safeguard its sovereign interests in the region and
(b) avoid becoming an accomplice to the follies of NATO’s expansionist aspirations.
Haalder advocates a deeper engagement with India in fields ranging from counter-terrorism and anti-piracy to cyber-security and ballistic missile defence (BMD).
How does New Delhi engage with NATO in counter terrorism when it differs fundamentally in its definition of “terrorism” and “concept of engagement” that are integral to its national interests?
Engagement must therefore be limited to those issues where common ground exists. Cyber-security is a critical national vulnerability that exists in the realms of an invasive ‘electromagnetic spectrum’. Engagement must, therefore, be limited to policy issues without compromising national cyber-security means. Finally the issue of BMD, the threat to NATO and that to India do not converge.
Can New Delhi bank on NATO to participate in a strategy to secure India against missiles being launched against it during a conflict with China or Pakistan?
Or for that matter in the event the US initiates a counter proliferation strike against India in support of an ally?
Is it prudent for Delhi to be seen taking sides in the ongoing NATO-Russian-American wrangle vis-à-vis BMD?
The answer to all three is an emphatic NO. On the face of it this piece smacks of yet another attempt to facilitate the “folly” of NATO expansion to Asia a la IISS.
By Michael Krepon
Source: Arms Control Wonk.
Let’s not argue about this: the three greatest films about the Bomb are John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe. All three were released in 1964, when movie-goers were still trying to forget the Cuban missile crisis.
Previous posts have given kudos to Dr. Strangelove and Seven Days in May. Now it’s time to praise Fail Safe. One remedy repeatedly proposed to prevent accidental nuclear war is to reduce the alert status of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles. The counter-argument is that “de-alerting” is a technical fix that can’t solve what is essentially a political problem. The numbers of launch-ready U.S. and Russian warheads remain excessive. States with nuclear weapons use increased alert status (sometimes advertised in the clear)as a signaling device. I don’t see how de-alerting can prevent this, and it may make the problem marginally, but not significantly worse, at least in my view. I’ll also post about de-alerting in the context of Pakistan and India.
By Michael Krepon
Source: Arms Control Wonk.
Alex George, the much-admired Stanford University professor, wrote Bridging the Gap: Theory and Practice in Foreign Policy (1993) to encourage academia to produce more policy-relevant work. This divide has become wider in subsequent years. Hard-pressed government officials rarely look to academe for help with proliferation. They usually don’t have the time or patience for theorems or quantitative analysis. Bill Potter and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova have tried to bridge this gap. Their new two-volume set, Forecasting Nuclear Proliferation in the 21st Century (2010) [Vol. 1 | Vol. 2], brings together academics committed to policy-relevant theories of proliferation and offers country studies. There is much that is admirable in both volumes for students, academics and, yes, practitioners. The contributing factors to proliferation are widely recognized. They include domestic drivers, economic and security concerns, as well as regime and leadership types. The academic school of realism and its various branches do not satisfactorily explain the relative paucity of proliferation cases. The most important policy-relevant conclusion from these essays is a rebuttal of the widely-held assumption of proliferation cascades. Up until now, proliferation has been a relatively rare occurrence, far below projections. The data mined by these authors suggest that, with wise policy choices, this might continue to be the case, even with the current, unsettling Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs.
US-India: Limits To Defence Cooperation With Delhi
By Sourabh Gupta
Much has been written over the past decade about the promise of a transformed US-India strategic relationship, both globally and in Asia. From safeguarding the global commons to promoting the spread of democratic values to preventing the domination of Asia by a single power, this partnership of ‘natural allies’ is deemed to be ‘indispensible’ for stability and prosperity in the 21st century. Much less has been noted about the limits to such cooperation. Yet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having passed through New Delhi recently following the second round of the annual US-India Strategic Dialogue, one of only a half-dozen such dialogues that the US has, these limits appear to be kicking in forcefully.
In late April, despite personal lobbying by President Obama, New Delhi eliminated the top two US contenders from its shortlist of suppliers for the Indian Air Force’s fourth-generation of advanced combat aircraft. With New Delhi’s preliminary design contract toward co-development of a fifth-generation fighter recently signed with Moscow, the window to US-India collaboration in this space appears to have closed.
In April, New Delhi signaled its disinclination to upgrade the strategic dialogue to a joint 2+2 (foreign + defence ministers) format, as the US has with Tokyo – in turn leading to postponement of the Strategic Dialogue. Attempts in May to revive the issue were met with firm objections, leaving this format of joint talks stillborn. Near-term disappointments aside, it is the underlying variance in New Delhi’s strategic purposes that has been the key obstacle to deepening the US-India defense relationship.
Washington And The Int’l Criminal Court
By Madeleine Albright, Marwan Muasher
It is time for the international community to take a stand against Syria’s use of violence against its citizens. On Monday the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Muammer Gaddafi and two of his closest lieutenants for alleged crimes against humanity. The United Nations Security Council should now direct the ICC to investigate whether Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity. The charge: using lethal violence to repress peaceful demonstrations in support of democratic rule. At present, the international criminal justice system is the best available way of confronting Syria.
‘Nightmare Nuclear Scenario’
By Shaun Gregory
It’s a nightmare scenario: al Qaeda militants gain control of a Pakistani nuclear weapon, either through a base assault, theft or a rogue commander’s cooperation, possibly in the event of hostilities with nuclear-armed neighbour India. Militants could seize control of a Hatf-9 system — essentially a rocket launcher on a truck. Militants could attack a base, seize a warhead or its core materials and then escape. Rogue commanders could, in a conflict with India, hand over codes and weapons to militants or cooperate with them. The more mercenary types might simply sell them.
A regular column from “Magoo” Nair (Brigadier [Rtd] Vijai K Nair to the uninitiated), one time Cavalry Officer turned nuclear and strategic analyst. With combat service in three wars and numerous “skirmishes” both external and internal.
He turns his discerning eye, stolid humour, cut to the bone “no nonsense analysis” and scathing wit in his personal column.
Commenting on just about anything, ongoing wars and the way they're fought, on nuclear politics and other associated geopolitical affairs that sometimes provoke his otherwise dormant nature.