December 17, 2014

Viewing Russia From the Inside

Geopolitical Weekly
December 16, 2014 | 09:02 GMT   Print    Text Size  



By George Friedman

Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn't rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year — the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the equator, this is unsettling. It is the first sign that you are not only in a foreign country, which I am used to, but also in a foreign environment. Yet as we drove toward downtown Moscow, well over an hour away, the traffic, the road work, were all commonplace. Moscow has three airports, and we flew into the farthest one from downtown, Domodedovo — the primary international airport. There is endless renovation going on in Moscow, and while it holds up traffic, it indicates that prosperity continues, at least in the capital.

Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian. In that he was the perfect host, translating his country to me, always with the spin of a Russian patriot, which he surely was. We talked as we drove into Moscow, managing to dive deep into the subject.

From him, and from conversations with Russian experts on most of the regions of the world — students at the Institute of International Relations — and with a handful of what I took to be ordinary citizens (not employed by government agencies engaged in managing Russia's foreign and economic affairs), I gained a sense of Russia's concerns. The concerns are what you might expect. The emphasis and order of those concerns were not.

Russians' Economic Expectations

I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people's minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.

But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return.

The Russians suffered terribly during the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin but also under previous governments stretching back to the czars. In spite of this, several pointed out, they had won the wars they needed to win and had managed to live lives worth living. The golden age of the previous 10 years was coming to an end. That was to be expected, and it would be endured. The government officials meant this as a warning, and I do not think it was a bluff. The pivot of the conversation was about sanctions, and the intent was to show that they would not cause Russia to change its policy toward Ukraine.

Russians' strength is that they can endure things that would break other nations. It was also pointed out that they tend to support the government regardless of competence when Russia feels threatened. Therefore, the Russians argued, no one should expect that sanctions, no matter how harsh, would cause Moscow to capitulate. Instead the Russians would respond with their own sanctions, which were not specified but which I assume would mean seizing the assets of Western companies in Russia and curtailing agricultural imports from Europe. There was no talk of cutting off natural gas supplies to Europe.

If this is so, then the Americans and Europeans are deluding themselves on the effects of sanctions. In general, I personally have little confidence in the use of sanctions. That being said, the Russians gave me another prism to look through. Sanctions reflect European and American thresholds of pain. They are designed to cause pain that the West could not withstand. Applied to others, the effects may vary.

My sense is that the Russians were serious. It would explain why the increased sanctions, plus oil price drops, economic downturns and the rest simply have not caused the erosion of confidence that would be expected. Reliable polling numbers show that President Vladimir Putin is still enormously popular. Whether he remains popular as the decline sets in, and whether the elite being hurt financially are equally sanguine, is another matter. But for me the most important lesson I might have learned in Russia — "might" being the operative term — is that Russians don't respond to economic pressure as Westerners do, and that the idea made famous in a presidential campaign slogan, "It's the economy, stupid," may not apply the same way in Russia.

The Ukrainian Issue

There was much more toughness on Ukraine. There is acceptance that events in Ukraine were a reversal for Russia and resentment that the Obama administration mounted what Russians regard as a propaganda campaign to try to make it appear that Russia was the aggressor. Two points were regularly made. The first was that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that it was already dominated by the Russian military under treaty. There was no invasion but merely the assertion of reality. Second, there was heated insistence that eastern Ukraine is populated by Russians and that as in other countries, those Russians must be given a high degree of autonomy. One scholar pointed to the Canadian model and Quebec to show that the West normally has no problem with regional autonomy for ethnically different regions but is shocked that the Russians might want to practice a form of regionalism commonplace in the West.

The case of Kosovo is extremely important to the Russians both because they feel that their wishes were disregarded there and because it set a precedent. Years after the fall of the Serbian government that had threatened the Albanians in Kosovo, the West granted Kosovo independence. The Russians argued that the borders were redrawn although no danger to Kosovo existed. Russia didn't want it to happen, but the West did it because it could. In the Russian view, having redrawn the map of Serbia, the West has no right to object to redrawing the map of Ukraine.

I try not to be drawn into matters of right and wrong, not because I don't believe there is a difference but because history is rarely decided by moral principles. I have understood the Russians' view of Ukraine as a necessary strategic buffer and the idea that without it they would face a significant threat, if not now, then someday. They point to Napoleon and Hitler as examples of enemies defeated by depth.

I tried to provide a strategic American perspective. The United States has spent the past century pursuing a single objective: avoiding the rise of any single hegemon that might be able to exploit Western European technology and capital and Russian resources and manpower. The United States intervened in World War I in 1917 to block German hegemony, and again in World War II. In the Cold War the goal was to prevent Russian hegemony. U.S. strategic policy has been consistent for a century.

The United States has been conditioned to be cautious of any rising hegemon. In this case the fear of a resurgent Russia is a recollection of the Cold War, but not an unreasonable one. As some pointed out to me, economic weakness has rarely meant military weakness or political disunity. I agreed with them on this and pointed out that this is precisely why the United States has a legitimate fear of Russia in Ukraine. If Russia manages to reassert its power in Ukraine, then what will come next? Russia has military and political power that could begin to impinge on Europe. Therefore, it is not irrational for the United States, and at least some European countries, to want to assert their power in Ukraine.

When I laid out this argument to a very senior official from the Russian Foreign Ministry, he basically said he had no idea what I was trying to say. While I think he fully understood the geopolitical imperatives guiding Russia in Ukraine, to him the centurylong imperatives guiding the United States are far too vast to apply to the Ukrainian issue. It is not a question of him only seeing his side of the issue. Rather, it is that for Russia, Ukraine is an immediate issue, and the picture I draw of American strategy is so abstract that it doesn't seem to connect with the immediate reality. There is an automatic American response to what it sees as Russian assertiveness; however, the Russians feel they have been far from offensive and have been on the defense. For the official, American fears of Russian hegemony were simply too far-fetched to contemplate.

In other gatherings, with the senior staff of the Institute of International Relations, I tried a different tack, trying to explain that the Russians had embarrassed U.S. President Barack Obama in Syria. Obama had not wanted to attack when poison gas was used in Syria because it was militarily difficult and because if he toppled Syrian President Bashar al Assad, it would leave Sunni jihadists in charge of the country. The United States and Russia had identical interests, I asserted, and the Russian attempt to embarrass the president by making it appear that Putin had forced him to back down triggered the U.S. response in Ukraine. Frankly, I thought my geopolitical explanation was a lot more coherent than this argument, but I tried it out. The discussion was over lunch, but my time was spent explaining and arguing, not eating. I found that I could hold my own geopolitically but that they had mastered the intricacies of the Obama administration in ways I never will.

The Future for Russia and the West

The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.

The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.

I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much. Presidents come and go. But it is a reminder that things that would bring down a Western leader may leave a Russian leader untouched. Second, the Russians do not plan a campaign of aggression. Here I am more troubled — not because they want to invade anyone, but because nations frequently are not aware of what is about to happen, and they might react in ways that will surprise them. That is the most dangerous thing about the situation. It is not what is intended, which seems genuinely benign. What is dangerous is the action that is unanticipated, both by others and by Russia.

At the same time, my general analysis remains intact. Whatever Russia might do elsewhere, Ukraine is of fundamental strategic importance to Russia. Even if the east received a degree of autonomy, Russia would remain deeply concerned about the relationship of the rest of Ukraine to the West. As difficult as this is for Westerners to fathom, Russian history is a tale of buffers. Buffer states save Russia from Western invaders. Russia wants an arrangement that leaves Ukraine at least neutral.

For the United States, any rising power in Eurasia triggers an automatic response born of a century of history. As difficult as it is for Russians to understand, nearly half a century of a Cold War left the United States hypersensitive to the possible re-emergence of Russia. The United States spent the past century blocking the unification of Europe under a single, hostile power. What Russia intends and what America fears are very different things.

The United States and Europe have trouble understanding Russia's fears. Russia has trouble understanding particularly American fears. The fears of both are real and legitimate. This is not a matter of misunderstanding between countries but of incompatible imperatives. All of the good will in the world — and there is precious little of that — cannot solve the problem of two major countries that are compelled to protect their interests and in doing so must make the other feel threatened. I learned much in my visit. I did not learn how to solve this problem, save that at the very least each must understand the fears of the other, even if they can't calm them.

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December 15, 2014

India-Russia ties need regular nurturing

  AP File Photo. 

India-Russia ties need regular nurturing

Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India has served to reaffirm bilateral bonds between the two countries. Beyond the positive rhetoric – New Delhi assured Putin that Moscow will remain its foremost partner – a string of agreements in the energy, defence and economic sectors were signed which serve to arrest the downward slide in bilateral relations.  They unveiled a "Druzhba-Dosti" vision statement that will guide their engagement over the coming decade and pledged to triple trade in this period. Twenty agreements were signed, including one worth US$10 billion that will provide India with Russian crude oil. The two sides are also eyeing an expansion of civilian nuclear energy cooperation; Russia will build a dozen more nuclear reactors in India over the next 20 years.
It has agreed to assemble 400 twin-engined helicopters in India. Transfer of technology and local manufacture of components and spares is on the anvil. This will take forward India's bid to indigenise production of military hardware.

The India-Russia relationship has been troubled in recent years. Moscow is miffed at India's growing proximity to the US and fears losing ground to Washington in India's defence market although it accounts for 70 per cent of India's defence purchases. Delhi is uneasy with Russia's recent defence pact with Pakistan. It was amidst this atmosphere of suspicion that Putin's visit took place. Hopefully, the two sides used the opportunity to clarify doubts.
Some maturity is needed. Both countries need to understand that the other can explore options with different partners. While deals go some way in assuaging apprehensions, depending on summits alone to tackle issues is not the best way to build a relationship.

Diplomats in the two countries should be defusing problems before they turn serious. The two sides need to discard the 'benign neglect' approach that defined their engagement over the past decade to adopt one that sees them nurturing the relationship on a regular basis. Only this can keep their time-tested friendship alive.

At a time when the US and the EU are seeking to isolate Russia on the Crimean question by crippling its economy through unilateral sanctions, Putin's successful visit to India has riled the Americans, who are no doubt envious of the expanding India-Russia nuclear cooperation.
 The US shrill disapproval of India doing business with Moscow is in poor taste. India and Russia are sovereign countries. Who they chose to engage, how and when is for them to determine and decide, not for the US to dictate. India needs to tell the Americans this clearly.

December 01, 2014

The Modi Doctrine for the Indo-Pacific Maritime Region

India's PM has wasted no time pursuing a new maritime doctrine in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

By Patrick M. Cronin and Darshana M. Baruah

December 02, 2014

The Modi Doctrine for the Indo-Pacific Maritime RegionOnly six months into his tenure, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is breathing new life into the concept of Indo-Pacific security. Indeed, it is not too early to describe the key elements of an emerging "Modi Doctrine" focused on the vigorous pursuit of political influence through greater maritime power. Acutely aware that India's development is best advanced across the sea lanes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the prime minister is embarking on a course of intensified engagement with other regional maritime powers.





The Modi Doctrine for the Indo-Pacific Maritime Region
India's PM has wasted no time pursuing a new maritime doctrine in the Indian Ocean and beyond.


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If the Modi Doctrine persists, then about a quarter century of "looking East" is truly set to be followed by a long-term period of "acting East." Heightened security cooperation with Japan, Australia, and the United States are three prime indicators of the new doctrine. Strengthening existing security ties with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and deepening cooperation with islands in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean are other factors underpinning this doctrine.

Eighty-eight months ago, in August 2007, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underscored the rising significance and linkages between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Abe told the Indian Parliament that the rising "confluence of the two seas" would draw together Asia's two wealthiest democracies. Three months ago, while visiting Abe in Tokyo, Prime Minister Modi took steps to operationalize a "special strategic global partnership." He  talked of "vikas vaad" (peaceful development) and "vistar vaad" (expansionism) characteristics of nations in the 21st century, noting that nations engaging in vikas vaad lead to development.  In perhaps a thinly veiled reference to China's maritime coercion he pointed out that some countries are still stuck in the "18th century" mindset, engaging in "encroachments" of other's territory.

Burgeoning Indian-Japanese security cooperation is one reason to believe that the Look East policy is genuinely now the Act East policy. The two countries are now fully committed to the joint production of a large, four-engine amphibious aircraft, the ShinMaywa US-2. This is critical departure for both countries. For Japan, the US-2 would mark the first major sale of military hardware overseas since the end of the Second World War. In fact, Japan is reportedly mulling over a new government-financing agency to ensure that money does not hold back the implementation of its recently relaxed export guidelines.

Meanwhile, for India, joint production will diversify and boost India's defense industry, while also adding significant maritime domain awareness and response capacity. Up to 18 short-takeoff-and-landing planes will help patrol a 7,500-kilometer coastline and deliver troops to the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Nicobar Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lakshwadeep Islands off the southwest coast.

Modi is also taking a less cautious and more self-confident approach to security relations with Australia. Operationalizing what amounts to a thickening network of intra-Asian security ties, Modi and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have announced a new  framework for enhanced security cooperation. Addressing the Parliament in Canberra last month, Modi called for doubling down on maritime cooperation. He said that Australia and India share "a natural partnership," are both dependent on the oceans as "lifelines," and harbor growing concern about "access and security."

Maritime security and cooperation are nothing new for these two countries with access to the Indian Ocean. Last February, Australia was one of 17 navies participating in the 20-year-old Milan naval exercises off the Andaman Islands. But seven years have passed since India and Australia conducted bilateral naval maneuvers as part of the annual Malabar exercise featuring the United States and India. During the first visit to Australia by an Indian prime minister in nearly 30 years (Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited in 1986), the two leaders pledged to rectify the lapse in bilateral naval cooperation both in the form of more frequent exercises but also closer policy coordination. Modi and Abbott also suggested greater support for regional capacity building among smaller island nations, from Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, to Fiji and other South Pacific islands. It helps that Australia is currently chairing both the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Modi's evolving doctrine in the Indo-Pacific is also being largely encouraged by regional institutions seeking a greater security role from New Delhi. In the east, the rhetoric has been that India so far has failed to play its role of a security provider in the region. However, with the new government under Narendra Modi, there appears to be a significant shift in Delhi's attitude and willingness to collaborate with regional players in the security domain. Apart from ASEAN, countries from the Indian Ocean Rim Association grouping, too, are looking at India to shoulder more of the traditional and non-traditional security responsibilities of the region and take on more of a leadership role. In this regard, India also recently held the first  Indian Ocean Dialogue under the realm of IORA at the port city of Cochin in the Arabian Sea.

Meanwhile, Modi has also revived U.S.-Indian relations. After a successful visit to the United States two months ago, he will host U.S. President Barack Obama as a special guest for Indian Republic Day on January 26, marking the 55th anniversary since the signing of the Indian Constitution. Bilateral relations have come a long way since the end of the Cold War, when India first announced its Look East policy, but often the vision of close relations has faltered from inflated expectations. This time around, there is reason to believe the bilateral vision is more firmly rooted in realistic national interests of both countries. Officials are optimistic that the relationship can include co-development and co-production of defense projects, something that would provide the bilateral relationship with serious ballast.

Basing the Indo-American relationship on a clear understanding of India's own goals is at the heart of recommendations made in an important forthcoming RAND study, Look East, Cross Black Waters, by Jonah Blank, Jennifer D. P. Moroney, Angel Rabasa, and Bonny Lin. The authors focus on practical areas of cooperation, including building up greater support in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and cooperation over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands west of the Strait of Malacca. Those areas are priorities for the Modi government, too. With an eye toward growing maritime interests across the Indo-Pacific, in 2001 India created the joint Andaman and Nicobar Command. The Andaman and Nicobar Command is the country's only tri-service command rotating between the Army, Navy and the Air force. That command now includes 15 ships, two Navy sea bases, four air force and naval air bases and an army brigade.

Although neglected for far too long, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been a crucial factor in India's maritime strategy. Its strategic location in the Indian Ocean puts India at an advantageous position in the changing geopolitics of the region. Known as India's strategic outpost, the islands are central to India's engagements with regional navies and can emerge as the focal point of New Delhi's evolving Indo-Pacific doctrine.

India's strategic community and defense forces alike have called for strengthening the Andaman and Nicobar islands to realize its potential to serve as the center for capacity building and knowledge sharing on issues across the Indian Ocean. Former Indian ambassador  Hemant Krishan Singh has advocated developing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a "regional hub" for the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting plus initiatives on maritime security and HADR cooperation. With support from regional players such as Japan and the United States, the islands can emerge as a strong focal point for addressing issues in the Indo-Pacific. It is more pertinent than ever for India to look toward its untapped, strategically located islands.

The "Modi Doctrine" also reflects a significant China factor. Strengthening ties with Colombo and other islands in the Indian Ocean and vigorously pursuing the Maritime Silk Road initiative underlines Beijing's expanding presence in the Indian Ocean. The docking of Chinese submarines in Sri Lankan ports is highly contentious, a concern New Delhi has voiced without any hesitation. At the 2014 "Galle Dialogue" in Sri Lanka, Indian National Security Advisor  Ajit Doval emphasized the need to keep the Indian Ocean a zone of peace in order to maintain stability in the region. Reflecting on India's concerns over the Chinese submarines in the islands, he called on "great powers not to allow escalation and expansion of military presence in the Indian Ocean."

New Delhi is realizing the need to play a prominent role in the regional security architecture and Modi's Indo-Pacific doctrine seems to be shaping the discourse precisely. India is showing a strong interest under Modi in diversifying India's arms suppliers while at the same time bolstering India's indigenous defense industry. The month after Modi took office, the United States supplemented previous missile sales to India by announcing that it would deliver Harpoon missiles to be deployed on India's four active but aging Shishumar class diesel-electric submarines. With the Pentagon looking at expanding its arms cooperation with more allies and partners, it will be interesting to see whether the president's visit in late January opens up new promises of defense industrial cooperation.

India is also enhancing its role with ASEAN, with which India plans to have $100 billion in two-way trade by the end of 2015 and double that in 2020.  In defense, during a visit to Vietnam in late October, Modi announced that India will quickly implement a $100 million defense credit line to Vietnam, which would enable Hanoi to acquire four offshore naval patrol vessels to improve Vietnam's surveillance and maritime domain awareness.  The prime minister has also been voicing India's concerns over the tensions in the South China Sea.  While India has always maintained that freedom of navigation through international waters is crucial, New Delhi usually refrains from making a direct comment on disputes outside of its territories.  What is of significance is Modi's choice of platforms in bringing up the issue. He first mentioned it in his joint statement with Obama, then with his  Vietnamese counterpart during his trip to Vietnam and at his maiden presence at the  East Asia Summit and the India-ASEAN summit in 2014. His call for a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea reflected a willingness to assure India's friends and key players in the region that India may finally be ready to take on the role of a security provider that the region demands. Although it appears that India is quickly shedding its "nonalignment" policy, it is unlikely that India will venture far out of its principles on alliances with other nations, especially in the security domain. The Indian Navy was auspiciously completing its annual Singapore-Indian maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) when Modi assumed office in late May, and the decade-old strategic partnership with Indonesia would seem likely to take off now that Indonesia's new leader, President Joko Widodo is similarly embarked on a maritime strategy.

In addition to stronger security relations with Japan, Australia, the United States, and ASEAN, India is signaling a desire to play a more active role in the geographically important island nations of the region, especially in the South Pacific.

Significantly, after leaving Australia, Modi made a rare visit to Fiji.  The coup-afflicted island country of about 850,000 hosted Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981, at a time when the  treatment of ethnic Indians was a growing concern. But consecutive visits by Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month attest to the fact that Fiji is no longer removed from mounting geopolitical competition.

Delhi has watched China intensify relations with Fiji. Although China and Fiji will mark 40 years of diplomatic relations next year, China only established an embassy in Suva in 2001. Since seizing power in 2006 and then shedding his uniform to win office via the ballot box, former Commodore and now Prime Minister "Frank" Bainimarama has brought Fiji into closer economic and security alignment with China.  That trend allowed Xi to proclaim "a natural kinship" with the island late last month. More tangibly, China signed five Memorandum of Understandings with Fiji and agreed to inject some $11.4 million of aid into Fiji, which is almost midway between Chinese seaports and Lima, Peru.

If Fiji has played the China card, China is playing the South Pacific card. In August, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) hospital ship Peace Ark made a goodwill visit to Fiji and four other South Pacific nations. While in Suva, Xi met with 7 of 12 Pacific Island nation leaders whose geography affords useful vantage points for gathering intelligence and monitoring space activity. It turns out Pacific islands are well located to keep taps on U.S. military operations in Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. And much of the competition is in cyber and outer space, making critical underwater fiber optic cables more important, as well as the need for tracking outer space activity.

India cannot match China's largesse, but even so Modi  announced a new $1 million adaptation fund to provide technical assistance, a $75 million credit line for Fiji, an increase in funding for island communities, visa on arrival for the island nations, and a Pan Pacific Islands Project to support telemedicine and online education.

But for all these bilateral and multilateral maritime moves, India is heavily focused on strengthening its own capacity for maritime security.  Long a global hub of information technology, India now appears intent on leveraging its IT prowess for strategic and operational maritime security.

India recently switched on operations of a Very Low Frequency (VLF) transmitting station at the Indian Naval Station Kattaboman in Tamil Nadu off the southern tip of India. The VLF transmitter enables more secure fleet communications, especially with Indian submarines. Although India currently operates only a single nuclear submarine leased from Russia, it is preparing to commission an indigenously developed, 6,000 ton nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine some time in 2015. India is expected to build at least three Arihant-class boats, which may carry K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a range of about 2,200 miles.

The recent sixth anniversary of the  "26/11" Mumbai terror attacks, which involved terrorists hijacking an Indian fishing boat to infiltrate the major port city in western India, was remembered with a major exercise involving 30 ships submarines and craft of the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as various civilian agencies. But more striking still was the inauguration of an Information Management and Analysis Center (IMAC) at Gurgaon for tracking ships in India's territorial waters and throughout the Indian Ocean.

The IMAC is a maritime intelligence fusion facility, involving not just the Navy and the Coast Guard but also coastal states and other governmental agencies, where data from coastal, air, and space surveillance systems will be persistently monitored and prominently displayed on huge screens. Tens of thousands of platforms can be tracked every day, and the IMAC is apparently set to become under Modi a hub of India's larger National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network. In announcing the IMAC on the November 26 anniversary, Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said India must have "zero tolerance" for terrorist attacks; but at the same time the ambitious maritime domain awareness system made clear Modi's interest in flexing India's regional maritime muscle.

One of India's top strategic thinkers, Dr. C. Raja Mohan, a Distinguished Fellow and Head of Strategic Studies at the Observer Research Foundation, explained the essence of Modi's strategic thinking at a recent conference we attended in New Delhi. The prime minister is ready to return India to its natural sphere of influence and become the next security provider in the Indo-Pacific region, Dr. Mohan argues. Now that roughly half of India's economy is tied to global markets, India's seaward expansion is logical and inexorable. India has never been as dependent on maritime security as it is today and is likely to become tomorrow. While nuclear deterrence prevents major interstate war on land, India's future hinges on exploiting free seas and the ability to shape the balance of power hinges on the Indian Navy. In short, contends Mohan, the Modi Doctrine, if there is one, is to pursue strategic influence — through a growing maritime orientation, shaping the Indo-Pacific regional balance of power, reclaiming a lost sphere of influence, and becoming an active participant in regional institutions.

Strategic patience is always prudent in forecasting the rise of India. Yet the present momentum behind Modi and his embryonic maritime doctrine for the Indo-Pacific region appears to be gaining steam.

There are, however, major challenges that have to be met in order to keep up with Modi's diplomatic pace. While it is easy to declare that India's "Look East" policy is now "Act East," implementation and coordination of the same within India's diplomatic levels is a major challenge. For India to establish its credibility and project its new maritime doctrine, the prime minister will have to ensure that his ministries deliver on his policies. There is definitely a greater political will within this government to play a more active security role in the region, which is being pursued through engagements and collaborations with key players. Modi should now look toward forging multilateral engagements in region with countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Australia and the U.S.

Former U.S.  Secretary of State John Jay wrote in 1900 that the Mediterranean Ocean was the ocean of the past, the Atlantic Ocean the ocean of the present, and the Pacific Ocean the ocean of the future. If Modi's self-confident new policy has its intended impact, then Jay's prophetic pronouncement will need to be amended to reflect the growing power across the Indo-Pacific Oceans.

Dr. Patrick M. Cronin is Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C.  Darshana M. Baruah is Junior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

November 09, 2014





The "News", the Pakistani daily, has reported on August 3,2009, that the Barack Obama Administration has decided to appoint Robin Raphel, who was a Counselor for Political Affairs in the US Embassy in New Delhi from 1991 to 1993 and subsequently became the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in the Bill Clinton Administration, as a member of the team of Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative to the Af-Pak region.

2.According to the paper, she will be based in Pakistan and will co-ordinate the implementation of the plan for non-military assistance to Pakistan. She is expected to arrive in Pakistan on August 14,2009. Her bio-data as taken from the Wikipedia is annexed.

3. During her posting in the US Embassy in New Delhi, she was actively interacting with the various anti-India groups in Jammu & Kashmir and it was reportedly on her advice that the Hurriyat, as an umbrella organization of these groups, became very active.

4.After Bill Clinton assumed office as the President in January,1993, she joined the State Department as the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of South Asian Affairs under Warren Christopher, who was the Secretary of State. It used to be said that she knew the Clintons from her younger days and this gave her easy access to the President despite her junior position in the State Department. She exploited this to prevent Pakistan being declared as a State sponsor of terrorism after the Mumbai blasts of March,1993.

5. It was during her tenure as the Assistant Secretary of State that the Clinton Administration declared Jammu & Kashmir as a "disputed territory" and started calling for the resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. This refrain has once again been taken up by the Obama Administration.

6. Towards the end of 1993 , during a non-attributable discussion with some Indian journalists in Washington DC she reportedly defended this formulation and contended that the US considered the Kashmiri territory transferred by Pakistan to China in 1963 when Ayub Khan was the President also as disputed territory, whose future was yet to be decided.

7. The "Times of India" prominently carried this story on the front page without identifying the official of the State Department who had talked to the Indian journalists on the Kashmir issue. Enquiries made by the Government of India identified the official as Robin Raphel.

8. It was during her stewardship of the South Asian Affairs portfolio in the State Department that the Taliban under Mulla Mohammad Omar came into existence in 1994 with the joint support of the Pakistan and US Governments. The Taliban was prepared to support the construction of an oil and gas pipeline by UNOCAL, an American oil company, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan and she had met Mulla Mohammad Omar in this connection. This period also saw Osama bin Laden shift from Khartoum to Jalalabad in 1996 without any objection from the US. The Taliban later shifted him to Kandahar.

9. Even after she left the State Department and joined the faculty of the National Defence University, she reportedly maintained active contacts with anti-India elements in J&K.

10. The "News" has correctly described her as "one known to be Pakistan's friend".

11.She is.

12. The text of the "News" report is also annexed. (3-8-2009)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )



Robin L. Raphel is a career diplomat who served as Ambassador to Tunisia and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during the Clinton administration. In this capacity she managed U.S. relations with the newly formed Taliban government in Afghanistan. She also served as a member of the Iraq Reconstruction Team during the Bush administration.

She began her career as a lecturer in history at Damavand College in Tehran, Iran. She first worked for the United States Government as an economic analyst for the CIA from 1973 to 1975. She then moved to Islamabad, Pakistan where she worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development as an economic/financial analyst. She then joined the State Department.

Upon her return to Washington, DC in 1978, Ambassador Raphel worked in the Office of Investment Affairs in the Economic and Business Bureau; on the Israel Desk; Staff Aide for the Assistant Secretary for the Near East and South Asian Affairs Bureau; and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. In 1984 she was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in London where she covered Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, and Africa.

She served as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria (1988-1991), and at the U.S.Embassy in New Delhi (1991-1993). In August 1993, she was named the first Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. She retired
from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service.

Ambassador Raphel received a B.A. in history and economics from the University of Washington. She pursued graduate studies in history at Cambridge University and earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Maryland. Her foreign languages are French and Urdu. She was at one time married to the late ambassador Arnold Lewis Raphel, but they divorced prior to his death in 1988.

She is currently the Senior Vice President at Cassidy & Associates, a firm that works on consultancy in international relations. She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. This contract was withdrawn by the firm due to the martial law in Pakistan. ( My comment: Not martial law, but the state of emergency)



Robin Raphel gets key job in Pakistan

Monday, August 03, 2009
By Qudssia Akhlaque

ISLAMABAD: The Obama administration in an astute move has decided to appoint former US assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, Robin Raphel, an old South Asia hand and one known to be Pakistan's friend, as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan, it was learnt.

Appointed as a key member of Obama's Pakistan team, Ambassador Raphel's mandate will be to coordinate the effort to determine, in consultation with the Pakistani authorities, how best to allocate the increased US funding for non-military assistance, informed diplomatic sources in Washington and Islamabad told The News.

Raphel will be a new member of the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke's expanding team and she will be based in Pakistan.

Holbrooke was appointed Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan by the Obama administration in January to coordinate US government's efforts in the region. Raphel will be reporting to Holbrooke in Washington, and at Islamabad to the US ambassador. A formal announcement about her appointment is expected shortly.

In her new position she is expected to cohesively carry together the different strands of non-military US engagement with Pakistan — economic, development, political and civilian security. Ambassador Raphel will be "also overseeing the ramp up of US civilian assistance effort in anticipation of the final passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill 2009," an insider explained.

The passage of the Kerry-Lugar bill means approval of tripling of civilian US aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion per annum for each of the next five years in a key part of a strategy to combat extremism with economic and social development. The $1.5 billion in annual funding includes money for schools, judicial system, parliament and law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan.

As Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during the Clinton administration in the 90s, Raphel had a similar role within the region. She particularly played an important part in managing US relations with the newly formed Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Robin Raphel is currently the senior vice-president of a Washington-based lobbying consulting firm Cassidy & Associates that provides counselling to multinational corporations, foreign countries and other organisations to advocate their US-based interests in Washington, and US corporations to meet business challenges abroad.

Raphel will be coming here on August 14 for initially a couple of weeks for consultations with the top political leadership after which she will go back to Washington, sources told The News. She will then return around mid September and be stationed here for one whole year.

This is not the first time that Raphel will be based in Pakistan. In mid 70s she was here in Islamabad working as an Economic and financial analyst for the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ambassador Robin Raphel is generally considered to be very sympathetic towards Pakistan and enjoys goodwill in the country's civilian as well as military circles. Even after her retirement from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service, Ambassador Raphel has been in touch with Pakistan through participation in seminars and conferences.

More recently she was responsible for lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department and her firm had a $1.2 million contract with the government of Pakistan. However, this contract was abruptly terminated by the firm following the declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan by President Gen (retd.) Pervez Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007.