March 17, 2005

New Online Book Lays Out al-Qaeda's Military Strategy

New Online Book Lays Out al-Qaeda's Military Strategy

By Stephen Ulph

An interesting new publication to hit the web gives insight into the thinking of an al-Qaeda strategist on the next stages of the struggle. Posted on the al-Ikhlas jihadi forum [] the work is entitled Idarat al-Tawahhush, "The Management of Barbarism," further defined as "the phase of transition to the Islamic state." Due to the strategic importance of the document, Terrorism Focus has undertaken an in-depth examination of the Arabic text.

Published by the Center of Islamic Studies and Research (an al-Qaeda affiliate), the 113-page work ‘Management of Barbarism' aims to map out the progressive stages of establishing an Islamic state, from early beginnings in defined areas in the Arabian Peninsula, or Nigeria, Jordan, the Maghreb, Pakistan or Yemen, and its subsequent global expansion. The author is Abu Bakr Naji, a name familiar from his contributions to the Sawt al-Jihad online magazine (which are republished at the end of this book).

By "Management of Barbarism" the author refers to the period just after the collapse of a superpower, the period of "savage chaos". It appears pointedly to be a method of not repeating the experience of Afghanistan prior to the rule of the Taliban, and of improving controls over the periods experienced, for instance, in Somalia after the fall of Siad Barre.


After ample prolegomena on Middle East history and the causes of the rise and fall of superpowers, the book substantially falls into five broad themes:

1) Definition of ‘Management of Barbarism'
2) The Path of Empowerment
3) The Most Important Principles and Policies
4) The Most Pressing Difficulties and Obstacles
5) Conclusion – demonstrating jihad as the ideal solution

Jihadi strategy

The ‘Path of Empowerment' theme constitutes the strategy of the mujahideen. In this the author further sub-divides into three distinct phases:

1) The Disruption and Exhaustion phase
2) The Management of Barbarism phase
3) The Empowerment phase

In the first "Disruption and Exhaustion" phase, the mujahideen are to a) exhaust the enemy's forces by stretching them through dispersal of targets and b) "attract the youth through exemplary targeting such as occurred at Bali, Al-Muhayya and Djerba."

At the "Management of Barbarism phase", the mujahideen are to "establish internal security, ensure food and medical supplies, defend the zone from external attack, establish Shari'ah justice, an armed force, an intelligence service, provide economic sufficiency, defend against [public] hypocrisy and deviant opinions and ensure obedience, and the establishment of alliances with neighboring elements that are yet to give total conformity to the Management, and improve management structures."

The "Empowerment" phase is an extension of the above. The policy is to continue Disruption and Exhaustion activities, at the same time establishing logistic links with the various Management zones. A conspicuous example of this phase is the series of events leading up to the September 11 attacks on the United States, which "destroyed the peoples' awe of America and of the lesser ranking Apostate armies." The fall of Afghanistan, the author explains, was either planned to happen, or was due to happen even without the September 11 events, and had as the result the multiplication of jihadi groups bent on revenge.

As for future targeting, this should be variegated "in all parts of the Islamic world and beyond it. For instance, in striking at tourist resorts frequented by Crusaders, all tourist resorts will have to be secured," with all the dispersal of energy and costs this involves. The same goes for Crusader banks in Turkey employing interest, or petrol installations near Aden, which will subsequently oblige security hikes for refineries, pipelines and shipping. "If two apostate authors are simultaneously liquidated in two different countries, it will require the security for thousands of writers in the Islamic world."

An important feature of this phase is the attention to be given to media and propaganda strategy, both for winning support and recruitment, and for deterring opposition. The media strategy should ‘target in depth middle ranking officers in the armed forces [of Muslim nations] to push them to join the jihad.' It should ‘aim at every stage to justify operations to the populous legally and intellectually … given that, assuming that our long struggle will require half a million mujahideen, getting such a number from a nation of millions is easier than from the ranks of the Islamic movement.'

Jihadi Tactics

The third theme, "The Most Important Principles and Policies," gives details on tactics. After discussing the necessity of establishing a proper chain of command, in both the doctrinal and military fields, the author outlines important military principles ("striking with the heaviest force at the weakest point; a superior enemy is defeated by economic and military attrition"). He further suggests four major reference sources: "The Encyclopedia of Jihad (prepared by the mujahideen in Afghanistan); the al-Battar magazine; the writings of Abu Ubayd al-Qurashi in the al-Ansar magazine, along with other works on the al-Uswa website; general works on military science, particularly on guerrilla warfare, provided the student rectifies the errors in them respective to Islamic law."

In the sub-section "The Application of Vehemence" subtitled "The Policy of Paying the Price," Abu Bakr Naji warns against the dangers of anything other than maximum violence as a deterrent, or as a response, even if the response should take years. The response, the author states, "is best done by other groups and in other countries than those suffering the act of enmity … to give the enemy the sense of being surrounded and his interests exposed … and to confuse him." An example of this method would be, say, in response to the Egyptians' imprisonment of mujahideen, an attack by mujahideen upon an Egyptian embassy in the Arabian Peninsula or the Maghreb, or the kidnapping of Egyptian diplomats, who should be "liquidated horrifically" if the mujahideen's demands are not met.

Stress is then laid upon the need to understand how international politics work. In the sub-section "Understanding the Rules of the Political Game" Abu Bakr Naji highlights how mujahid groups that refused to soil their hands with profane political calculations paid the price. The difficulty of reconciling Islamic legal propriety with pragmatic military interest is resolved, in the author's eyes, by recourse to the example set by [the 14th century jurist] Ibn Qayyim, who set Prophetic precedent as a preference, but not an obligation.

An important feature of this game, Naji illustrates, is the manipulation of the international media, and ensuring that the message gets through to the target, in its widest sense, and not just to the minority elite. "We must therefore set up an association whose purpose is to ensure the communication of our demands to people, even if this should expose them to dangers akin to the perils of combat … such as the taking of a hostage. After raising the hullabaloo concerning him we demand that media correspondents publish our demands in full in return for his release … Our demand might be a statement of warning or justification for an operation." An effective response to government media's demonization of mujahid actions is to prepare the ground by first demonizing the target as something Islamically forbidden or serving the economic interests of the enemy. Naji then gives an imaginary scenario of an attempt to adjust oil prices in favor of the people where a deadline is issued and an oil engineer or manager or journalist is kidnapped to ensure that the demand is fully publicized.

Points of weakness

The fourth major theme in the work covers "The Most Pressing Difficulties and Obstacles" that will face the mujahideen. These are listed as the diminution in the numbers of believers as casualties in war, the lack of sufficiently trained administrators (and the relative social distance many of these have from the rank and file) and the problems caused by over-enthusiasm in the behavior of some. Naji also highlights the problems that will be faced with old loyalties to other Islamist groups impeding administration in the new Management phases, or the threat of schism.

Importance of the book

The Management of Barbarism is one of the few works of jihadi literature devoted specifically to strategy. Jihadi literature is rich in works of doctrine and exhortation on the one hand, and specific pamphlets on military technology on the other. Tactical studies tend toward providing doctrinal clearance for particular issues such as the killing of prisoners, the problem of civilian Muslim casualties or dealing with the infidel. Strategy is less well represented. Other than the papers by Yusuf al-Ayyiri on the Jihad method, the closest work to this is the Tuhfat al-Muwahhideen fi Bayan Tariq al-Tamkeen (Gift of the Monotheists on the Way to Empowerment) by the same author as this treatise, which indeed may be considered an extension of it.

The importance of this work lies in the mapping, in the eyes of a mujahid, of the stages of a strategic program towards empowerment. This process is construed with a broad enough perspective as to make of individual reverses — such as Afghanistan — of secondary importance. While Naji illustrates how, for the mujahid, matters of doctrinal propriety carry great weight, he also introduces realism to the subject in his defense of pragmatism over legal literalism in matters relating to dealings with the enemy and its politics. But perhaps the most interesting emphasis is the role of the media. As an admission of the failure of the Islamist groups to build massive support, ample space is given to methods of combating government and western media control of information delivery. The number of attacks and threats of attacks by mujahideen on media offices and individuals in Iraq, demonstrates that the value of this arm of the strategy is well understood, and indeed appears to be following the textbook.

Stephen Ulph is a Senior Fellow of The Jamestown Foundation and editor of the Terrorism Focus.

March 16, 2005

CHINA BRIEF: A Journal of News and Analysis

CHINA BRIEF: A Journal of News and Analysis

- Factional Politics and Beijing's Tightening Grip on Hong Kong
By Willy Lam
- The EU's Balancing Act: Selling Arms to Beijing
By Frank Ching
-The PRC's Defense Industry: Reform without Improvement
By Richard A. Bitzinger
- China's Long March into Space
By Eugene Kogan


Factional Politics and Beijing's Tightening Grip on Hong Kong

By Willy Lam

The saga of Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's fall from grace has highlighted Beijing's tightening grip over the Special Administrative Region (SAR), as well as the dicey future of the "one country, two systems" model. While Tung indicated last Thursday that he had submitted his resignation to Beijing earlier that day because of failing health, news about his impending departure had already been splashed across the Hong Kong papers on March 2.

In fact, Chinese sources in Beijing said the leadership under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had made the decision about sacking the unpopular SAR chief in late January. Steps were taken to induct the 67-year-old former shipping magnate into the mainland's top advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) as one of its 20-odd vice-chairmen. And not long after Tung was endorsed as a CPPCC vice-chairman last Saturday, Beijing announced it had accepted his resignation. Given that a CPPCC vice-chairmanship is deemed an honorary, post-retirement job for ageing senior cadres, Tung's dismissal was a well-planned maneuver to demonstrate the Hu-Wen team's more assertive – and in many ways, more Machiavellian – leadership style.

It is no secret that the Hu-Wen administration was unhappy with Tung's performance since he assumed the post of SAR chief in July 1997. On July 1, 2003, more than half a million Hong Kong residents took to the streets to demand Tung's dismissal due to reasons including rising unemployment, Tung's poor handling of the SARS epidemic, and his ham-fisted efforts to introduce the draconian "Article 23" national security legislation. (The bill against sedition, secession and the leakage of state secrets was shelved in early July to pacify an angry public.) It is true that the economy started to improve last year thanks partly to a plethora of favorable policies that Beijing had adopted to re-energize the SAR economy. However, Hu last December made his displeasure at the bumbling Tung known when he publicly called upon the Hong Kong leader to be better at "finding out deficiencies" in his administration.

Despite this, Tung might have been able to hang on until the end of his term in June 2007 if his patron, ex-president Jiang Zemin had not retired from the post of Central Military Commission (CMC) chairman last September. Almost immediately after becoming commander-in-chief, Hu masterminded a large-scale reshuffling of provincial party secretaries and governors to speed up rejuvenation – and to promote several fast-rising members of his own Communist Youth League faction.

"Hu is killing two birds with one stone with his sacking of Tung, a Shanghai native who sometimes talked to Jiang in Shanghaiese," said a Chinese source close to Beijing's Hong Kong policy-making establishment. "Firstly, he has sent out the message that Beijing cannot tolerate two more years of the maladministration of the prized SAR under lame-duck Tung. Secondly, the removal of the Jiang appointee will accentuate the Hu-Wen leadership's determination to flush out more affiliates of the much-maligned Jiang Zemin or Shanghai Faction."

Given Tung's poor track record, few Hong Kong residents were sorry to see him go. Moreover, his replacement, Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang, is a relatively popular career civil servant who was knighted by the British before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty to Beijing. And Beijing's spin-masters have been playing up the fact that President Hu's "resolute" decision regarding leadership changes in Hong Kong would better enable the SAR to turn a new leaf.

However, there is little doubt that the entire "dump Tung" episode signals a further erosion of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy – and of the vitality of the one country, two systems model. As pro-democracy legislator and labor activist Lee Cheuk-yan pointed out: "Hong Kong people played no role in the selection of Tung as chief executive, and we have been totally left in the dark concerning his dismissal as well as the selection of his successor." Lee Wing-tat, the Chairman of the Democratic Party, noted that "a great blow has been dealt the ‘one country, two systems' principle if everything is being orchestrated in Beijing" concerning leadership changes in the SAR. Pro-democracy legislators have called on Tung to appear before the Legislative Council, Hong Kong's parliament, to give a "full explanation" of the circumstances of his departure.

According to a Hong Kong-based Western diplomat, Tung's dismissal was disturbing to the extent that factional intrigue in Beijing had become a principal determinant of who should be running the SAR. It is understood that the Hu-Wen team had largely circumvented the "normal channels" – the Coordinating Leadership Group on Hong Kong Affairs (CLGHKA) and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office – when implementing their decision about Tung. The CLGHKA, supposedly the Communist Party's foremost policy-setting organ on Hong Kong, is led by Jiang's alter ego, Vice-President Zeng Qinghong. "The Hong Kong policy apparatus is still largely run by Shanghai Faction affiliates," the diplomat said. "And many cadres in Beijing and Hong Kong involved with SAR policy didn't know about Tung's fate until the rumors had gathered in Hong Kong."

Factional dynamics has also figured prominently in the Hu-Wen team's selection of Tsang as Tung's successor. While immediately after the 1997 handover, Beijing had considered Tsang with suspicion because of his London links, the British-trained administrator has in the past few years bent over backwards to please the Communist Party leadership. For example, Tsang played a sizeable role in at least indirectly shooting down the possibility of universal-suffrage polls to pick the chief executive in 2007. Equally significantly, Tsang has little ties with Shanghai Faction stalwarts such as Vice-President Zeng. At the same time, the political fortune of Financial Secretary Henry Tang, another aspirant for the chief executive's post, has plummeted. Tang's father, a Shanghai industrialist who moved to Hong Kong in the late 1940s, had close relations with ex-president Jiang. And it is believed that President Hu does not want another Shanghai Faction holdover to run Hong Kong.

Another controversy related to Tung's resignation – whether his successor will have a two- or five-year term – also illustrates Beijing's hands-on approach to Hong Kong affairs. In accordance with a clause in the Basic Law (Hong Kong's mini-constitution) dealing with the resignation of the chief executive, Tsang will be Acting Chief Executive until an 800-member, Beijing-appointed electoral college chooses the next Hong Kong supremo on July 10. Basic Law has clearly stipulated that whoever is favored by the electoral college will have a five-year term.

However, Chinese cadres and legal scholars had pointed out repeatedly – well before Tung's formal submission of his resignation last Thursday – that according to Chinese political culture and practice, whoever replaces Tung will only serve out the rest of his term, meaning two years. These scholars noted that the five-year tenure only applied to a chief executive beginning an entirely new term of office. They added that Tung's replacement would be regarded in the Chinese tradition as akin to a stand-in for an incapacitated chief executive. This stance was affirmed by the State Councillor in charge of Hong Kong, Tang Jiaxuan, earlier last week.

Irrespective of the outcome of this controversy, Beijing's high-profile intervention in Hong Kong politics presages even wider departures from the norms of "one country, two systems," which was put forward by late leader Deng Xiaoping to reassure Hong Kong during Beijing's negotiations with the British in the 1980s. This is despite the fact that at least superficially, the Communist party leadership has reason to be satisfied with recent developments in the SAR. Anti-Tung and anti-Beijing sentiments have gone down in the wake of the 8 percent growth in the economy last year. Moreover, after Beijing emphatically ruled out faster democratization of the SAR last year, more Hong Kong residents have become resigned to the inevitable – and pro-democracy politicians have been able to attract at most several thousand people to join rallies that clamor for general elections.

It is evident, however, that the Hu-Wen leadership is still obsessed with the possibility that Hong Kong may become a "base of subversion" that "hostile anti-Chinese elements abroad" could use to destabilize the mainland. Sources close to the Hu camp said while ex-president Jiang almost never called a Hong Kong-related Politburo meeting, the Hu-led Politburo Standing Committee had discussed Hong Kong issues at least a few times since the July 1, 2003 anti-Tung protests. Moreover, the sources said, a number of Hu advisers wanted Tung's successor, Tsang, to further prove his loyalty to Beijing by rekindling efforts to re-enact the hated Article 23 national security law. And given the fact that as in the case of Tung, Tsang is beholden to Beijing for his meteoric rise to the top, the Harvard-trained administrator may feel obliged to live up to the expectations of the SAR's new Beijing bosses.

Willy Wo-Lap Lam is a Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation as well as a Hong Kong-based journalist and analyst.

* * *

The EU's Balancing Act: Selling Arms to Beijing

By Frank Ching

The European Union (EU) is poised to lift its arms sales embargo on China, imposed in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, within the next few months. But the move may well exacerbate Europe's relationship not only with the United States but with Japan as well. President George Bush made it clear during his visit to Europe in February that the United States remains strongly opposed to the lifting of the ban. At a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels, Bush said: "There is deep concern in our country that a transfer of weapons would be a transfer of technology to China, which would change the balance of relations between China and Taiwan."

The United States fears any new Chinese capabilities in the event of a Mainland attack against Taiwan, especially given yesterday's passage of the new Anti-Secession Law by China's National People's Congress which authorizes the use of force if Taiwan should seek formal independence. Other events have made the already delicate situation even more complicated. The United States and Japan issued a joint statement in February calling on China to renounce the use of force, saying that the Taiwan issue was a common security concern for both Washington and Tokyo. Beijing immediately accused them of interfering in matters relating to China's sovereignty.

If the EU were to lift the arms embargo at this time, it would look as though Europe and China were joining forces against the United States and Japan. This is clearly something that the EU is reluctant to do, and so the lifting of the arms embargo may be delayed.

In December, during its annual summit meeting with China, the EU sent Beijing a "positive signal" by suggesting that the embargo may be lifted in the first half of this year. Nicolas Kerlerous, the spokesman on external relations for the EU's Council of Ministers, said then that the EU "has an objective to lift the embargo during the first half of next year," although warning that achieving the objective "can never be guaranteed." These remarks reflected a "conclusions statement" issued by EU leaders after the summit meeting in Beijing. According to the document, EU leaders "invited the next Presidency [of the EU] to finalize the well-balanced work in order to allow for a decision" on revising the EU's code of conduct on arms exports. The document added: "The result of any decision [to lift the embargo] should not be an increase of arms exports from EU member states to China, neither in quantitative nor qualitative terms."

The American Congress, however, has threatened to retaliate if the EU were to end the arms embargo. In an attempt to defuse the dispute, the EU is sending a high-level delegation to Washington this week, headed by Annalisa Giannella, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana's personal representative on nonproliferation issues. The EU has assured the U.S. that lifting the arms embargo will be primarily of symbolic value because the ban will be replaced by a strict code of conduct. However, so far, the Americans have not found that to be reassuring.

China, too, has asserted that it has no plans to make large-scale purchases of European weapons. "To demand the lifting of [the] arms sales embargo does not mean that China would like to buy advanced weapons from Europe," Premier Wen Jiabao said to journalists at a China-EU summit in December. "Rather, it is aimed to oppose political discrimination against China." It appears that EU leaders, responding to pressure from Beijing, simply hope to remove a political irritant in their relationship with China by lifting the arms embargo.

However, neither China nor the EU has succeeded in easing American concerns that Beijing would be able to obtain access to military technology that might change the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese are believed to be interested not so much in weaponry as in software and in communications and electronic equipment.

Ultimately, what may turn out to be at least as effective as a code of conduct is the self-interest of European defense contractors. The United States spends more on defense than the rest of the world put together and is an important customer for large European defense companies, such as the British firm BAE systems and EADS, a Franco-German conglomerate. Mike Turner, the chief executive officer of BAE Systems, has been quoted as saying that his company "will do nothing that will jeopardize [its] position with the U.S. They are a very, very important customer."

Actually, even with the embargo, EU countries are able to sell "non-lethal" weapons to China, from helicopters to advanced radar and diesel engines for submarines. The EU's annual report on arms exports show the value of licenses to sell arms to China totaled €416 million in 2003, against €210 million for 2002. In fact, even the United States, which has its own arms embargo against China, sells some arms to that country. According to Robert Karniol, Asia specialist for Jane's Defense Weekly, the U.S. has sold jet engines for China's J-8 trainer/light attack aircraft.

In reality, the EU review on the arms sales issue has been based on three criteria: China's human rights record, tension with Taiwan and the code of conduct. However, China's vociferous objections to linking the arms sales embargo to its human rights performance has forced the EU to down-play this aspect. China insists that the embargo should be lifted because it is a "leftover" from the Cold War and is now incompatible with the all-round development of China-EU relations. As a result, the EU refrains from saying openly that human rights is a factor.

Nevertheless, the Dutch government made clear while it held the EU presidency in the second half of last year that China's human rights record is, in fact, relevant. "I stress that there is no linkage between the lifting of the arms embargo and human rights," Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said in October. "But on the other hand we would welcome, of course, positive signals on the Chinese side, for example, the ratification of the convention on civil and political rights [and] the release of prisoners who have been imprisoned after the Tiananmen Square events" of 1989. (More than a dozen individuals arrested in 1989 are believed to be still serving prison terms.)

While China has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, its parliament has not yet ratified the treaty. But in December, China said it is committed to ratification and would do so as soon as possible. Human rights organizations have also called on China to take steps to improve human rights, including a moratorium on executions as a first step toward the abolition of the death penalty. China recently announced that it would reduce the type of cases for which the death penalty can be used. "In future amendments of the criminal law," Vice Justice Minister Zhang Jun said recently, "the legislature might remove capital punishment as an option in punishing certain crimes." But even such advances on the human rights front would not make lifting the embargo any easier, as the United States remains the major obstacle.

The EU and China have forged what they call a "comprehensive strategic partnership." Beijing has said that it is inappropriate for the EU to maintain an arms embargo against its strategic partner. Prime Minister Wen has threatened to downgrade the relationship if the embargo is not lifted. The EU is now China's largest trading partner while China is the EU's second largest trading partner, after the United States. The economies of the EU and China are largely complementary since Europe has a strong industrial base, capital and technology while China offers a huge market and low-cost labor.

In addition, China and Europe – or at least certain major European countries, such as France and Germany – also share a common geopolitical outlook. They do not like the idea of the United States being the world's only superpower and wish to foster a multi-polar world to constrain American power. But, if the EU does proceed to lift the embargo without first addressing Washington's concerns, it is likely that the United States would retaliate. Congress, for example, might well complicate pending legislation that would loosen technology transfers to Britain and other allies. There may even be a move to punish Britain, America's closest European ally, for not blocking the lifting of the embargo.

But the true linchpin seems to be the Taiwan issue: if tensions between China and Taiwan ease, the likelihood of U.S. military intervention in the Straits would dramatically decrease. Therefore the EU would feel less inhibited about lifting the embargo, which is seen as an obstacle to an even closer relationship between the EU and China.

Mr. Frank Ching is a Hong Kong based journalist and commentator.

* * *

The PRC's Defense Industry: Reform without Improvement

By Richard A. Bitzinger
China possesses one of the oldest, largest, and most diversified military-industrial complexes in the developing world: an agglomeration of around 1,000 enterprises employing some three million workers, including 300,000-plus engineers and technicians. Moreover, China is one of the few countries in the developing world to produce a full range of military equipment including small arms, armored vehicles, fighter aircraft, warships, submarines, nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But China's military-industrial complex suffers from a number of shortcomings. It is one of the most technologically backwards defense industries; until recently, most indigenously developed weapons systems were at least 20 years behind the West – basically comparable to 1970s or 1980s-era technology – and quality control was consistently poor. Similarly, China's defense research and development (R&D) base was long viewed to be deficient in several critical areas, including aeronautics, propulsion (such as jet engines), microelectronics, computers, avionics, sensors and seekers, electronic warfare, and advanced materials. [1] Furthermore, the Chinese have traditionally been weak in the area of systems integration – that is, the ability to design and develop a piece of military equipment that integrates hundreds or even thousands of disparate components and subsystems and have it to function effectively as a single unit. Consequently, China's defense industry has often experienced difficulties "translating theory and design into reliable weapon systems." [2]

Exacerbating these technical deficiencies has been a number of structural and organizational problems that traditionally afflict the Chinese military-industrial complex. Overall, arms production in China has largely been an inefficient, wasteful, and unprofitable affair. China's defense sector has long been plagued by excess capacity – quite simply, the country possesses too many workers, factories, and assembly lines, resulting in redundancy, inefficient production, and underutilized resources. Military R&D programs have often experienced considerable delays due to inadequate funding, while production runs were small and sporadic.

Finally, China's military-industrial complex has long functioned under an organizational and managerial culture that, in a manner typical of most state-owned enterprises (SOEs), was often highly centralized, hierarchical, bureaucratic, and risk-averse. [3] This, in turn, stymied innovation, retarded R&D, and further added to programmatic delays. Consequently, production management has often been highly centralized and personality-centric, under the leadership of a single chief engineer or director, while lower-level managers tended to be "conformist, adhering to standard rules and procedures rather than to personal judgments based on their professional experiences." [4]

Reforming China's Defense Industry: 1997 to the Present

The Chinese have long been aware of the deficiencies in their defense industry and have undertaken several rounds of reforms to improve their defense R&D and production processes. The most recent efforts began in September 1997, when the Fifteenth Communist Party Congress laid out a radical agenda for restructuring and downsizing the state-owned enterprise sector (including the defense industries) and for opening up SOEs to free-market forces. The following March, the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) further refined this agenda by announcing plans to reorganize the government's defense industry oversight and control apparatus and establish new defense enterprise groups.

One of the most important decisions to come out of the 1998 NPC was the breakup of COSTIND and the subsequent creation of a new People's Liberation Army (PLA)-run General Armament Department (GAD), with the latter now acting as the purchasing agent for the PLA, overseeing defense procurement and new weapons programs. Another key element of current defense reforms was the creation in July 1999 of ten new defense industry enterprise groups (DIEGs); an eleventh DIEG, covering defense electronics, was added in 2001. These DIEGs were supposed to function as true conglomerates, integrating R&D, production, and marketing.

Breaking up the old SOEs was also intended to encourage the new industry enterprise groups to compete with each other for PLA procurement contracts, which it was hoped would pressure them to be more efficient and technologically innovative. At the same time, the government's role in the daily operations of the defense industry was greatly reduced, leaving these new enterprise groups the authority to manage their own operations as well as take responsibility for their own profits and losses.

Another crucial aspect of these new reform initiatives was the declared intent to significantly downsize the Chinese military-industrial complex, including laying off as much as one-third of the defense sector's workforce. At the same time, rationalization of the defense industry was supposed to include factory closings and consolidation as a result of government-encouraged mergers, as part of the policy of "letting the strong annex the weak."

A Disappointing Track Record

The outcome of these reforms, however, has been disappointing. Beijing has largely failed to "marketize" its military-industrial complex. If the intention of creating new DIEGs was to inject greater competition into China's military-industrial complex – and therefore spur innovation and greater responsiveness to PLA systems requirement – then these restructuring efforts have largely been a failure.

The GAD, for example, has yet to implement competitive bidding and market pricing into the overall arms procurement process. In particular, competitive bidding is still not apparently used when it comes to major weapons programs. With few exceptions, China's new DIEGs still do not compete with each other when it comes to defense materiel. Of the two new enterprise groups replacing the old Aviation Industries of China (AVIC), for example, all fighter aircraft production is concentrated within one DIEG, while all helicopter and trainer jet production is centered in the other. In fact, Beijing appears to have intended that these new defense industries do not vie directly with each other. For example, the two new aerospace (missile) enterprise groups do not compete in terms of products, but rather "in terms of their systems of organization and their operational mechanisms." [5]

Rationalization of the defense industry has also been much slower than expected. According to one Western estimate, no more than 20 percent of the labor force in the overall defense sector has been laid off. AVIC, for example, has downsized by only 10 percent overall, and this was likely accomplished through attrition, that is, retirement and job-leavers. [6] At the same time, there have been few incidents of arms factories being closed or merged. Therefore, much of the defense industry continues to suffer from excess capacity.

It is also unclear how independent these new defense enterprises will be of government control or how responsible they will ultimately be for their own profits and losses. Beijing made it clear from the beginning that arms production is a strategic industry too critical to national security to be privatized, and that it will keep the new DIEGs under much stricter supervision than other types of reformed SOEs. At the same time, the central government has provided billions of dollars in subsidies to the defense sector to cover outstanding debts. [7]

Above all, the reform initiatives implemented so far do not directly address those impediments affecting technology absorption and upgrading of China's defense industry – that is, the lack of advanced technical skills and expertise, compartmentalization and redundancy, and a bureaucratic/risk-averse corporate culture. As a result, it is doubtful that these reforms will go very far in injecting market forces that would, in turn, drive the modernization of the Chinese military-industrial complex.

In Spite Of Itself?

Despite making little progress on reforming itself, the Chinese defense industry is booming. Production and sales are up 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in 2001 – and China's military-industrial complex technically broke even in 2002, after eight straight years of losses. The missile and shipbuilding sectors have been particularly profitable in recent years. [8]

China's defense industry has also begun manufacturing several new types of advanced weapons systems, including the fourth-generation J-10 fighter, an improved version of its FB-7 fighter-bomber, the HQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missile, the Song-class diesel-electric submarine, and the Type-052C destroyer (which incorporates low-observable features and a rudimentary Aegis-type phased-array radar into its design). Moreover, the quality and capabilities of Chinese weaponry has also apparently improved. The Song-class submarine, for example, is outfitted with a skewed propeller for improved quieting and is capable of carrying an encapsulated anti-ship cruise missile that can be launched underwater.

Much of this progress, however, seems to have been made despite the new defense industry reforms rather than because of them. Many of the so-called successes in generating new-generation weapon systems actually have their genesis in design and development decisions made years, even decades, ago – that is, long before the reforms of the late 1990s were inaugurated. In other words, these weapons programs were already in the pipeline and on schedule to enter production in the late 1990s and first years of the 21st century. The most recent reform efforts may have helped to accelerate or expand production of these weapons systems, but they certainly did not play any role in their initiation.

Rising defense spending also likely had much to do with the recent expansion in Chinese arms production. China's defense budget has more than doubled since the late 1990s, with an increase in the procurement budget alone from $3.1 billion to $6.9 billion per year between 1997 and 2002. (This does not account for hidden spending on R&D and arms imports, which together is likely another $2 billion annually.) It could be argued, therefore, that simply throwing more money at the defense industry has had a considerable impact – through increasing procurement and therefore production, and by providing more funds for R&D.

Overall, though, it appears that Beijing's strategy regarding its defense sector is still mainly to muddle through with arms production, with some minor structural changes and a healthy increase in defense spending. While this has resulted in some technological breakthroughs in weapons R&D and production, China's military-industrial complex remains in many respects an inefficient and less-than-optimal model. This will continue to exert a drag on the Chinese military modernization process and make it harder for the PLA to close technology and capability gaps with its rivals.

Richard A. Bitzinger is an Associate Research Professor with the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii. The opinions expressed in this paper are strictly his own.

1. Paul H.B. Godwin and Bernard D. Cole, "Advanced Military Technology and the PLA: Priorities and Capabilities for the 21st Century," in Larry M. Wortzel, ed., The Chinese Armed Forces in the 21st Century (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 1999), pp. 159-215.
2. Mark A. Stokes, China's Strategic Modernization: Implications for the United States (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 1999), p. 136.
3. Harlan Jencks, "COSTIND is Dead, Long Live COSTIND! Restructuring China's Defense Scientific, Technical, and Industrial Sector," in James C. Mulvenon and Richard H. Yang, eds., The People's Liberation Army in the Information Age (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1999), p. 62.
4. Yuko Arayama and Panos Mourdoukoutas, China Against Herself: Innovation or Imitation in Global Business? (Westport, CT: Quorum, 1999), p. 73.
5. "Applying Technology to National Defense," China Space News, May 26, 1999, p. 1.
6. "Chinese Defense Industry: Chinese Puzzle," Jane's Defense Weekly (internet version), January 21, 2004.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid

* * *

China's Long March into Space

By Eugene Kogan

While China's space activities are largely supervised by its military, the civilian aspects are administered by the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA). Charles Vick, chief of the space policy division at the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said that "In general, we should not underestimate the Chinese and their capabilities, especially since they are building a second launch site [for the Long March/Shenzou combination] that is almost complete. They are picking up the pace and the funding appears to be there." Vick's statements are a clear indication of how far China has come since the end of the Cultural Revolution – Beijing's accelerated progress in space exploration and its military applications has occurred in the last twenty-five years.

The International Herald Tribune noted in October 2003 that although the Chinese do not release budgetary figures, U.S. analysts estimate that about $2.2 billion goes into the space program annually. However, the best that can be said about Chinese investments in its space program is that Beijing is spending relatively significant government resources; whether Western assertions that China spends about $2 billion per annum on space activities (civilian and/or military) are accurate, remains unclear.

In the words of Liu Jibin, Chinese minister for the Commission of Technology and Industry for National Defence "Space development is a reflection of comprehensive national strength." Thus, there is no doubt that if economic conditions are robust, space expenditure, whether for military or civil purposes, will remain a dominant factor in Beijing's agenda for years to come. Under a less than robust economy, or under fiscal constraints, space expenditure allocations might suffer and China might follow the example of Russia, which barely keep its space activities afloat.

Space Programs

Nezavisimioye Voennoye Obozreniye reported in August 2003 that China's space program was gradually but consistently formed and autonomously pursued in the last quarter of the 20th century. The manned space program in particular has been accelerated in the last ten years. This followed a careful evaluation of the Soviet/Russian and American experiences. Since November 1999, the Chinese have successfully launched four test flights of unmanned Shenzou spacecraft. James Olberg, who spent twenty-two years at NASA Mission Control in Houston noted that what "we have learned of China's space strategy in recent years is that it is innovative, competitive and deliberately inspirational."

It is important to note that the space program has a high degree of self-reliance. However, in the early stages China borrowed heavily from Russian technology. Today, it relies mainly on equipment that it has developed itself or it has adapted significantly. It is possible to envisage that China will continue to develop its dynamic space program independently. It has all the skills, the funding, and the will to succeed coupled with government support to keep space at the top of the agenda. As for training, the first two of the fourteen taikonauts (an English nickname for Chinese astronauts based on the Chinese word for space taikong) were trained at the Moscow-based Gagarin Space Centre. In the October 2003 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology it was noted that over the last decade China spent about $1.6 billion on new space facilities. These new facilities include the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Centre and a separate simulator-equipped "Space City" astronaut training center. These are modern facilities comparable in some respects to the Johnston Space Centre in Houston. In addition to modern facilities, China has built three launch sites. In November 2003, Aviation Week and Space Technology noted China had launched their fourth major space flight, a ChinaSat communications satellite. The ChinaSat launch from the Xichang site in Sichuan means that in addition to launching four complex missions within a month of each other, the Chinese used three widely separated sites to do it – an impressive show of space resources.

Undoubtedly China's manned space activity provides legitimacy for the government and brings China into an exclusive club along with Russia and the United States. It also employs a large number of Chinese workers and, in the process, substantially improves their technological skills and education.

According to the Far Eastern Economic Review (October 2003), the manned space flight crowned a decade of progress in civilian applications of space technology and China's ability to launch satellites – both for itself and for other countries. Dean Cheng, an Asian analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, noted that "Clearly there is a huge economic component to manned space flight in terms of the ability to provide communications to remote parts of China and other areas." Although China's leap into space has been dominated by the military, the martial implications of the program are hard to quantify and will probably produce much dual-use technology.

China is developing its own satellite manufacturing capabilities and can build a satellite completely independently of other countries, according to a Chinese official. In addition, the official said that the Beijing-based Great Wall Industry Corporation is in a position to help foreign satellite operators establish themselves in China's large telecommunications market. He said that China does not intend to link such assistance to the lifting of the de facto U.S. ban on the use of Long March rockets, but he suggested such a move by the United States would do no harm. He also said that "The U.S. government was forcing Chinese industry to co-operate with European industry. We would like to co-operate with the United States" but cannot do that now.

The same official continued that, while looking to return to the international launch scene, Great Wall has launched a series of Chinese spacecraft and has been working on upgrading its launch capabilities. The firm is developing more powerful rockets that can handle larger satellites and has modernized its launch facilities with improved equipment, new roads and more comfortable customer accommodation.

In November 2002, Shao Lin, director of the Chinese Ministry of Science Technology's department of high technology and new technology, said that the Chinese government proposed that it becomes a full participant in the Galileo satellite-navigation project with the same rights as the other participants. According to European government officials, China's role in financing the Galileo project has decreased during the last two years. Gone is the idea that China would invest €200 million in cash. China is now expected to make a cash payment of €5 million in the Galileo Joint Undertaking in return for an equity stake of well under 1 percent.

Future Space Programs

While Chinese long-term ambitions in space are often unclear, a White Paper published in 2000 by the State Council includes plans for independent Chinese satellite broadcasting and navigation systems, space exploration and the marketing of new applications discovered through the space program. As for a launch service, a White Paper set a target for tapping the overseas launch market by "developing the next generation of launch vehicles with non-toxic, non-polluting, high-performance and low-cost qualities and strengthening the capability of providing international commercial launch services."

According to Hu Shixiang, deputy commander-in-chief of the China Manned Space Engineering Program, although the next Shenzou flight will involve crew use of the orbital module, there are no plans for Shenzou to separate from the orbital module and conduct docking tests with it. Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of the overall manned program for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) reaffirmed China's plans to use Shenzou manned flight hardware to create a temporary orbiting outpost before developing a larger space station. Yongzhi said that the station development program would take about fifteen years to complete; China has been focusing on station development since 2002. China plans to send two taikonauts in September 2005.

A report in Space News in August 2003 noted that the initial Chinese lunar orbit mission, which could be launched by the end of 2007 (not in 2006, as earlier envisaged), will carry imaging and geochemical mapping instrumentation, a payload that would draw strong interest from the international planetary science community. In addition, according to Luan Enjie, the Chinese National Space Administration director, China has begun a formal unmanned lunar program that plans to involve one or more lunar orbit missions, followed by lunar surface rovers and eventually an unmanned lunar sample return mission to be implemented as early as 2012. All three of the program's elements would help build China's aerospace technological capability, especially in advanced lightweight materials, electrical systems and overall robotic systems.

Meanwhile, Aviation Week and Space Technology reported in October 2003 that the Chinese are engaged in a wide-ranging space development initiative across multiple civil and military unmanned space programs in addition to their Shenzou manned project. The programs include:

§ A new range of military imaging reconnaissance, navigation and communications spacecraft;

§ The KT oxygen/hydrogen booster program to develop new heavy launch vehicles similar to the U.S. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) programs;

§ The KT-1 solid propellant launch vehicle: this new four-stage solid propellant space launcher aims to compete with the U.S. and Europe market for the small-satellite launches;

§ Smallsat technology spacecraft in connection with Asian and other partners: Iran has been involved in one of the programs;

§ Smallsat optical and radar spacecraft for Earth remote sensing;

§ New F-1 and FY-2 ocean and weather monitoring spacecraft;

And a 4,500-pound, 1-metre aperture solar telescope planned for launch later in the decade for extremely detailed observation of the sun.
China's space programs are certainly very ambitious and envisage long-term development. While compared with Russia and the United States, China has a long road ahead on its journey into space. It appears to have all the prerequisites to accomplish its goals.

Civilian space applications for military use

In 2001 China launched two satellites carrying experimental navigation payloads. Both operate from geostationary orbit covering Chinese and surrounding territory. The Chinese government launched its third Beidou navigation satellite on 25 May 2003 aboard a Long March 3A rocket. According to Geoffrey Forden's article published in the October 2003 issue of Jane's Intelligence Review, China's navigation satellite system, as it now stands, could not be used for aerial bombs. It is conceivable, however, that China could use the existing constellation of three satellites to assist a cruise missile strike against Taiwan. Forden continued that the most unambiguous application of this system is likely to be in improving the accuracy of China's Missile Forces and its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). According to Sibing He's article published in the August 2003 issue of Space Policy, in response to Washington's efforts to increase its civilian space agency's role in defense and to develop a missile defense system, Beijing is likely to accelerate its efforts to expand dual-use space technology in order to strengthen its military position.

In the words of Dean Cheng, "the military implications of the manned space programs are hard to quantify." Nevertheless, it is evident that the program is going to produce them sooner rather than later. It remains for us to observe and carefully analyze these hard-to-quantify military implications.

To conclude, space policy, whether it is civil, commercial or military, is directly associated with China's national prestige and, as a result, can override the government agenda. It is also evident that the importance of space, and particularly of military space, as underlined above, is increasing. In the words of Fang Xianming, Vice President of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), "a ‘battle' for control of space is already under way."

Dr. Eugene Kogan is currently a guest researcher at the Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. He is a defense industry analyst with expertise on Russia, Eastern Europe, Israel and China.

Caspian Gas and European Energy Security

On March 10, 2005, The Jamestown Foundation, along with the America-Georgia Business Development Council and the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, held a public discussion entitled "Caspian Gas and European Energy Security." Jamestown was pleased to host on its discussion panel the foremost U.S. official on Caspian basin energy affairs, Ambassador Steven Mann, as well as regional expert and Jamestown Senior Fellow, Vladimir Socor.

Ambassador Steven Mann addressed U.S. policy on Caspian energy affairs and strategy in light of recent developments in the region, followed by commentary from Jamestown Senior Fellow Vladimir Socor. A briefing of the main points discussed as well as a transcript will be posted shortly. To listen to the event in its entirety Click

March 13, 2005

Washington’s Interest in Ukraine: Democracy or Energy Geopolitics?

by William Engdahl, author of the book, ‘A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order,’ recently released by Pluto Press Ltd, London.

The results of the third round of elections in Ukraine in which Viktor Yushchenko has just been proclaimed the final winner, far from being grounds for jubilation in Ukraine and beyond, ought to give concern for the future of Ukraine to many. The story has major implications for the dollar, oil and gold.

The recent battle over the election for President to succeed the pro-Moscow Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine is more complex than the general Western media accounts suggest. Both Putin and Bush are engaged in highest stakes geopolitical power plays. Both sides in Ukraine have evidently engaged in widespread vote fraud. Western media chooses to report only one side, however. Case in point: the British human rights group, Helsinki Watch Group, reports it found more vote irregularities on the side of the opposition Yushchenko than from the pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych. Yet media reports as if fraud were only from the side of the pro-Moscow candidate. The Kuchma regime is anti-democratic and no model for human rights, one factor which feeds an opposition movement. Yet the deeper issue is Eurasian geopolitical control, an issue little understood in the West.

The Ukraine elections are not about Western-sanctioned democratic voting, as some magic formula to open the door to free market reform and prosperity for Ukrainians. It’s mainly about who influences the largest neighbor of Russia, Washington or Moscow. A dangerous power play by Washington is involved, to put it mildly.

A look at the geo-strategic background makes things clearer. Ukraine is historically tied to Russia, geographically and culturally. It is Slavic, and home of the first Russian state, Kiev Rus. Its 52 million people are the second largest population in eastern Europe, and it is regarded as the strategic buffer between Russia and a string of new US NATO bases from Poland to Bulgaria to Kosovo, all of which have carefully been built up since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most important, Ukraine is the transit land for most major Russian Siberian gas pipelines to Germany and the rest of Europe.

Yushchenko favors EU membership and NATO membership for Ukraine. Not surprising, he is backed, and strongly, by Washington. Zbigniew Brzezinski has been directly involved on behalf of the Bush Administration in grooming Yushchenko for his new role.

As far back as November 2001 Yushchenko was reportedly wined and dined in Washington by the Bush Administration, paid for by the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Martin Foulner in the Glasgow Herald of November 26 reported the details of the meeting. The NED, it’s worth noting, was set up during the Reagan Administration by the US Congress, to “privatize” certain CIA operations, and allow Washington to claim clean hands in various foreign meddling. Ukraine is part of a wider US pattern of active “regime change” in eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Brzezinski is directly involved in Ukraine events, and has openly condemned the initial November election results along with Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell. Brzezinski’s entire career has been geared to dismantle Russian power in Eurasia since the time he was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council chief. If Brzezinski succeeds in getting his hand-picked man in power in Kiev, that will be a major step in the direction of US domination of all Eurasia. That, of course, is the aim, as Brzezinski makes explicit in his writings.

It is useful to quote Brezezinski directly from his now infamous 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives:

“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire… ”

“…if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”

Brzezinski then adds the following: “The states deserving America’s strongest geopolitical support are Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine, all three being geopolitcally pivotal. Indeed, Kiev’s role reinforces the argument that Ukraine is the critical state, insofar as Russia’s own future evolution is concerned.”

And why Eurasia? Brzezinski replies: “A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemishphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent … About 75 percent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources. […] Eurasia is also the location of most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. After the United States, the next six largest economies and the next six biggest spenders on military weaponry are located in Eurasia. All but one of the world’s overt nuclear powers and all but one of the covert ones are located in Eurasia. The world’s two most populous aspirants to regional hegemony and global influence are Eurasian. All of the potential political and/or economic challengers to American primacy are Eurasian.”
Belgrade to Kiev to …

There is a distinct pattern of US covert actions in changing regimes in Eastern Europe, in the context of this Eurasian strategy of the US, in which Ukraine fits the pattern. The Belgrade vote in 2000 to topple Milosevic, was organized and run by US Ambassador, Richard Miles. This has been well documented by Balkan sources and others. Significantly, the same Miles was then sent to Georgia, where he engineered the toppling of Shevardnadze in favor of the US-groomed Mikhail Saakashvili last year, another pro-NATO man on Moscow’s fringe. James Baker III played a key role as well, as some noted at the time.

Now Miles is reportedly involved in Kiev, with the US Ambassador there, John Herbst, former Ambassador in Uzbekistan. Curious coincidence? The Ukraine “democratic youth” organization, Pora (“high time”) is a slick, USA-created entity. It is modeled on the Belgrade youth group, Otpor, which Miles also set up with help of the NED and Soros’ Open Society, US AID and similar friends. Pora was given a brand image for selling to the Western media, a slick logo of a black-white clenched fist. It even got a nifty name, the “chestnut revolution,” as in “chestnuts roasting on an open fire …”

Before he came to power, Saakashvili was brought by Miles to Belgrade to study the model there. In the Ukraine, according to British media and other accounts, George Soros’ Open Society, the US government’s “private” National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the Carnegie Endowment, along with State Department USAID, were all involved in fostering Ukraine regime change. Little wonder Moscow is a bit concerned with Washington actions in Ukraine.

A key part of the media game has been the claim that Yushchenko won according to “exit polls.” What is not said is that the people doing these “exit polls” as voters left voting places, were US-trained and paid by an entity known as Freedom House, a neo-conservative operation in Washington. Freedom House trained some 1,000 poll observers, who loudly declared an 11 point lead for Yushchenko. Those claims triggered the mass marches claiming fraud. The current head of the Freedom House is former CIA director and outspoken neo-conservative, Admiral James Woolsey, who calls the Bush Administration War on Terror, “World War IV.” On the Freedom House board sits none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski. This would hardly seem to be an impartial human rights organization.

Why does Washington care so much about vote integrity next door to Russia? Is Ukraine democracy more important than Azeri or Uzbek “democracy”? There something else going on than what appears to be a vote count. We have to ask why it is that the Bush Administration suddenly is so keen on the sanctity of the democrat vote process as to risk an open break with Moscow at this time.
Eurasian oil geopolitics

US policy, as Brzezinski openly stated in The Grand Chessboard, is to Balkanize Eurasia, and ensure that no possible stable economic or political region between Russia, the EU and China emerges in the future, that might challenge US global hegemony. This is the core idea of the September 2002 Bush Doctrine of “pre-emptive wars.”

In taking control of Ukraine, Washington would take a giant step to encircle Russia for the future. Russian moves to use its vast energy reserves to play for room in rebuilding its political role would be over. Chinese efforts to link with Russia to secure some independence from US energy control would also be over. Iran’s attempts to secure support from Russia against the Washington pressure would also end. Iran’s ability to enter into energy agreements with China would also likely end. Cuba and Venezuela would also likely fall prey to a pro-Washington regime change soon after.

Washington policy is to directly control the oil and gas flows from the Caspian including Turkmenistan, and to counter Russian regional influence from Georgia to Ukraine to Azerbaijan and Iran. The background issue is Washington’s unspoken recognition of the looming exhaustion of the world’s major sources of cheap high-quality oil, the problem of global oil depletion, or as the late American geologist, M. King Hubbard termed it, of peak oil.

Over the coming 5-10 years the world economy faces a major new series of energy shocks as older fields from the North Sea to Alaska to Libya and even major fields in Saudi Arabia such as the giant Ghawar field, peak and begin to decline. Many large fields already have peaked such as the North Sea, perhaps one reason for the British interest in Iraq. And no new fields of a North Sea size have been found to replace them.

It was clearly no accident of politics that former Halliburton chief, Dick Cheney, became Vice President, with quasi-presidential powers, in the current Washington Administration. Nor that his first job was to oversee the Energy Task Force.

Back in late 1999, as CEO of Halliburton, Cheney delivered a speech to the London Institute of Petroleum. Halliburton, of course, is the world’s leading oilfield services and construction group. Cheney presumably had a pretty good picture of where there was oil in the world.

In his speech, Cheney presented the picture of world oil supply and demand to fellow oil industry people. “By some estimates,” he stated, “there will be an average of two percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three percent natural decline in production from existing reserves.” Cheney added an alarming note: “That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day.” This is equivalent to more than six Saudi Arabia’s of today’s size.

He cited China and East Asia as fast-growth regions, and noted that the oilfields of the Middle East were, along with the Caspian Sea the major untapped oil prospects.

Oil pipeline politics are also directly involved in the fight for control of Ukraine. In July 2004 the Ukraine Parliament voted to open an unused oil pipeline to transport oil from Russian Urals fields to the port of Odessa. The Bush Administration vehemently protested this would make Ukraine more dependent on Moscow.

The 674-kilometer oil pipeline, completed by the Ukraine government in 2001, between Odessa on the Black Sea and Brody in Western Ukraine, can carry up to 240,000 barrels a day of oil. In April 2004, the Ukraine government agreed to extend Brody to the Polish Port of Gdansk, a move hailed in Washington and Brussels. It would carry Caspian oil to the EU, independent of Russia. That is, were Ukraine to become dominated by a pro-EU pro-NATO regime in the November vote.

The stakes were big. George Bush Sr. made a quiet trip to Kiev in May to meet both candidates according to the British New Statesman of December 6. Former US Secretary of State Madelaine Albright flew in to Kiev as well.

Last July, the Kuchma government suddenly reversed itself and voted to reverse the oil flows in Brody-Odessa, in order to allow it to transport Russian crude to the Black Sea.

Commenting on the significance of that move, Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington remarked at the time, “Kremlin officials understand full well that Odessa-Brody has the potential to deal a fatal blow to Russia’s current near monopoly on Caspian energy.” Berman then added a telling note, “Worse still, from Russia’s perspective, the resulting European and US economic attention would all but cement Kiev’s Westward trajectory.” The pipeline to Poland, a 3-year project, would make Poland a major new hub for non-Russian, non-OPEC oil as well, Berman notes.

The decision to reverse the pipeline last July would greatly weaken that Westward shift of Ukraine. The next government will have to tackle the issue. Ukraine is a strategic battleground in this geopolitical tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow. Ukrainian pipeline routes account for 75% of EU oil imports from Russia and Central Asia, and 34% of its natural gas import. In the near future, EU energy imports via Ukraine are set to expand significantly with the opening of huge oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Ukraine is a key piece on Brzezinski’s Eurasian chessboard, to put it mildly, as well as Putin’s.

William Engdahl is author of the book, ‘A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order,’ recently released by Pluto Press Ltd, London.

Running into a ‘BRIC wall’ with Eurasia?

Running into a ‘BRIC wall’ with Eurasia?

by F. William Engdahl

In response to the bold moves by the Bush Administration to move its NATO and direct US military presence into the vital energy choke points of Eurasia, the major Eurasian powers are taking definite steps aimed at self-survival in energy, even military defense.

We can see a South-South pattern of major trade and economic deals. At the heart of it are Beijing and Moscow, New Delhi, Brasilia, and Teheran most recently. In 2002 four countries signed a trade and cooperation agreement, calling it BRIC-- Brazil-Russia-India-China.

Ironically, their self-defense measures are likely to put the countries of Eurasia (leaving France, Germany and the EU aside) on a collision course with Washington. Their efforts present the kind of geopolitical challenge which Bush declared Verboten in his September 2002 Bush National Security paper, the so-called Bush Doctrine.
China-Russian military steps

On December 27, Beijing and Moscow announced their first ever joint military exercises, in China. The timing was a message to Washington regarding the intervention in Ukraine. Russia is responding to pressure on its Western borders by turning to alliances to the East. This could have major strategic implications.

China is playing it deftly at present, with no provocative rhetoric aimed at Washington. Putin sees it as a step to his long-sought triangle Moscow-Beijing-New Delhi. China, still under the US-imposed 1989 Tiananmen Square arms embargo, is Moscow’s largest arms buyer. For China, a Russian alliance has a strategic dimension of greater access to Russian energy. A major question is to what extent Berlin and even Paris, now shift away from or decide to develop closer energy and strategic cooperation with Russia.
China moving to secure strategic raw materials

Ultimately, in the context of the looming Peak Oil, or global oil depletion, Russia and China and the EU, possibly aided by Iran, will inevitably seek strategic energy security in face of a now-obvious US bid to control all major oil choke points. Russia and the Caspian states, with Iran, comprise the only obvious energy alternative for China, India and the EU. All the cat-and-mouse political games between Paris and Washington and Berlin and Moscow to Beijing, revolve around this harsh reality. It defines what some have called a ‘new Cold War,’ a cold war over energy.

Last September, China announced it would buy Noranda, Canada’s biggest mining company, for $5.5 billion. Strategic priority for China is, of course, energy security. Last year China passed Japan to become world number two oil importer after USA.

China has been courting Putin to get a major share of the troubled Yukos oil empire. This week Putin suggested a minority in Yukos will be sold to China and to India.

China in September threatened a UN veto to block US sanctions on Sudan over the Darfur crisis. China National Petroleum Company built the Sudan oil pipeline, from the region around Darfur, to a Red Sea port where it is shipped to China. The Greater Nile Oil Project, 40% owned by China, produces 330,000 barrels a day. China has invested $3 billion in Sudan oil since 1999. China lost huge oil contracts in Iraq after the US took Baghdad in March 2003. It is clear why Beijing sees a geopolitical pattern to US intervention against dictators or human rights abusers. Some 7% of China’s energy comes from Sudan.

In December China bid for a major stake in Canada’s huge oil tar sands in Alberta Province. Canada PM Paul Martin has been invited to Beijing end of this month. Alberta tar oil reserves are huge, but energy intensive to extract oil from, and hence costly. The fact China makes a bid now for such difficult reserves indicates the urgency of their global search for secure energy. A pipeline would go to Canada’s West Coast to a new terminal to ship to China.

In November China President Hu Jintao made a trip to Brazil, Argentina and other South American states where he signed deals potentially worth $100 billion. These were designed as door-openers to participations in oil and gas projects there. After Hugo Chavez was in Beijing in December, China companies will invest $350 million in Venezuelan oilfields, and agreed to import 120,000 barrels of crude a month. Argentina and China deals could total $20 billion in rails and oil and gas.

Brazil signed 11 bilateral deals with China for $10 billion in energy and transportation. This move into the direct backyard of Washington is new for China, and it has raised eyebrows in Washington which long considered Brazil as its own ‘sphere of interest.’

These deals come on the heels of the $100 billion China-Iran natural gas deal signed last fall. The deal could total $200 billion over 25 years. China will import 10 million tons of Iran LNG a year. The deal involves construction of 87 new LNG tankers in the next 5 years. Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world. The Beijing deal flouts the US Iran Sanctions Act. Iran clearly hopes the major deal will lead to more bold moves by EU investors to flout the sanctions.

Before 2003, China’s main oil came from the Middle East. Since Iraq’s fall, China has re-evaluated, and begun a feverish pace of oil diversification. Now Sudan and Angola provide a major share, with West Africa supplying 19% of imports. The recent trip of Bush in July 2003 to West Africa caused alarm in Beijing, especially when Sudan was also made a ‘human rights’ target of Washington at the same time, and when Washington attempted again to oust Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in August 2004 via referendum. Beijing sees this as a global “oil cold war” in every respect.

China has also been eager to sign a deal with Putin for a pipeline to bring oil from Russia to China. Japan successfully outbid China to win a China bypass route to Russia’s Far East port Nakhodka. On January 1 Putin signed a deal from east Siberia to the Pacific Ocean to serve Japan oil imports, but still open is if Russia will build a branch line to China. Clearly Russia is keen to keep maximum flexibility and not become over-dependent on China. Despite this, the closer cooperation between the two is clear.

At the end of December, Russian Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko announced that China’s CNPC would be allowed to buy up to a 20% stake in the Yukos subsidiary Yuganskneftegaz which Rosneft acquired in December.
Brazil, Russia, India oil deals

At year-end, Russia signed a deal with Brazil. Gazprom will build an LNG plant in Brazil. Petrobras will jointly explore for oil and gas in Brazil with two Russian companies. Another $3 billion deal includes Russia building an oil refinery in Brazil.

Early in 2004 India invited Brazil President Lula to New Delhi where they spoke of a South-South ‘new trade geometry.’ Preferential tariffs were agreed between India and Mercosur. Brazil will export biofuel to India and sugar as well as oil.

India also this month signed a $40 billion joint deal with Russia and Iran for long-term energy. It includes a 25-year import of Iran natural gas to India and development of Iran oilfields. India will get a 20% stake in Iran’s largest oilfield, Yadavaran and Jufeir that yields 300,000 barrels a day. China’s CNPC is the main operator of Yadavaran. Now India has 20%, Iran 30% and China 50% of that giant field. Iran is clearly seeking powerful allies against US pressures.

India is also bidding to buy part of Russian oil giant, Yukos. Last October in Delhi China’s ambassador proposed joint energy cooperation of the two former Cold War rivals, India and China, something not anticipated in Washington. India’s Petroleum Minister M.S. Aiyar was in Moscow in October talking about a ‘strategic alliance’. This month India, under Aiyar also hosted the first roundtable of Asian energy ministers, including from the Persian Gulf and China. He proposed a common regional petroleum market, and an Asian benchmark crude, a potential blow to the US British oil giants and their control via NYMEX and Brent. Iran proposed an Asian Bank for Energy Finance to fund the projects.

On 10 November 2004 the India Daily reported, “Russian President Putin is taking a lead role in the most powerful coalition of regional and superpowers in the world. The coalition consists of India, China, Russia and Brazil. This will change the superpower supremacy of America…” The coalition includes the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) of China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Iran is now in the process of unofficially becoming a member of SCO via the mammoth energy deals. Brazil got an IAEA approval to develop its uranium enrichment last November just after the visit to Brazil from Putin. Is Russia to help as it is with Iran’s nuclear enrichment?

Now, in this context of the BRIC, India and China just agreed to closer defense cooperation as India’s Army chief was in Beijing late last year, the first time in a decade. China PM Wen Jiabao goes to Delhi this year. This came amid announcement last month that China and Russia will hold joint military manoeuvres in China.
Bush to try to woo Germany, France?

Little wonder that the Bush Administration is exercising classic Balance of Power diplomacy to counter these moves. Bush will visit Germany next month to meet Schroeder, and Bush has personally invited Chirac to the White House later this year. He clearly hopes to woo them away from the Russia-China axis. German industry and business community is divided on Russia. They do not want to anger the US, yet they realize the German economy is increasingly forced to turn to Russia for critical oil and gas. When Schroeder met Putin in Oslo last September, Schroeder asked Putin to allow Ruhrgas (E.ON) to increase her 6% stake in Gazprom to 20%. Two weeks earlier, according to German press, Schroeder was in London for secret talks to see if BP would join in a pipeline to the Baltic to bring Siberian gas to Germany without going via Ukraine.

The pattern of strategic energy deals signals that a major confrontation is building between the major countries of Eurasia and Washington, precisely what Brzezinski predicted in 1997 in his book, The Grand Chessboard. •

Iran’s Nuclear Dossier -- Interview with Yousef Molaie

iqbal, Daily Newspaper, No. 34, Mar. 10th, 2005, Page 6
By : Yousef Naseri
Word Count : 1192

Nuclear technology is of dual use – peaceful and invasive. Iran launched a campaign to boost its nuclear technology and it has managed to gain achievements. But the United States suspects the Islamic Republic of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb. University professor Yousef Molaie speaks about the challenges Iran faces over its nuclear programs.

Q: Can you enumerate turning points in Iran’s nuclear programs?
A: We did not have any special problem up to 1993 about our nuclear programs. The world was caught napping by North Korean nuclear activities. That was when the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted regulations, upon a recommendation of the United Nations Security Council, in order to monitor nuclear programs in the countries. An Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was inserted in 1993 and took effect in 1997. Afterwards, Iran’s nuclear programs came under scrutiny.
The second turning point dates back to the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attack on the United States. Washington included fight on non-peaceful nuclear programs in its war on terrorism. Mechanisms were also worked out to take action against smuggling of uranium and its enrichment. The United States took advantage of the conditions to become the standard-bearer of anti-terror combat and ratchet up the pressure on the countries President Bush lumped into the “axis of evil” – to which Iran was a member. The Europeans were opposed to putting Iran on this axis and they launched a diplomatic offensive to have the US change its policy. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana came to Tehran and called on Iran to modify its policies in order to evade the US pressure. He said Iran should reconsider its view of terrorism, Middle East peace process, human rights, nuclear programs and recognition of Israel. Solana’s visit was the third turning point. The fourth one came with a landmark visit to Tehran of foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany. After the US-led invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Europeans were keen to ease international concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programs. Iran and EU3 signed a deal in October 2003 in Tehran. The Islamic Republic was obliged to suspend the enrichment of uranium and give assurances to the world that it was not building atomic bomb. The IAEA Board of Governors took Iran’s nuclear file and the United States intensified its politically-motivated pressure on the Islamic Republic. The murder of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi let the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan form an alliance against Iran.

Q: Why did the United States not help Iran improve its nuclear programs before the 1979 Islamic Revolution?
A: Iran had signed numerous deals with France, Germany, Canada, Brazil and South Africa in those years but the United States never opposed Iran’s nuclear programs and even provided the universities with necessary equipment. After India mastered the nuclear technology, the shah of Iran said his country should do so in the shortest possible time. Iran signed NPT and its programs were categorized as peaceful.

Q: What does IAEA think about Iran’s nuclear programs?
A: IAEA resolutions issue stern warnings to Iran but it says Tehran has not declared all its programs. The nuclear watchdog is not certain about deviation of Iran’s programs and it recommends Iran to build confidence. IAEA wants Iran to give further information about its nuclear programs and it cannot haul it before the United Nations Security Council while the data is flawed. Iran has been cooperative vis-à-vis the IAEA.

Q: What is the reason behind spread of rumors about US or Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear programs?
A: Our country hesitated to declare its programs in Arak and Natanz to the IAEA and the United States took advantage of this issue to apply pressure on our country. The United States and Israel have not convinced the IAEA of the non-peaceful nature of Iran’s activities. Iran will be at the UN Security Council if the US and Israel can provide such data. The United States has in fact launched a psychological war on the Islamic Republic.

Q: Is this problem partly related to lack of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington?
A: IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has told Iran to negotiate with the United States about its nuclear programs. He also invited Washington to be engaged in talks. Former Iran’s ambassador to IAEA Mr Ali Akbar Salehi had said that Iran’s nuclear file has two political and technical aspects. Mismanagement in the political aspect adds to technical problems.

Q: Iraq had no arms of mass destruction but the United States invaded this country.
A: Iran and the United States have political tensions and Washington is using them as a tool to apply pressure on Iran. The sudden death of Zahra Kazemi prompted Canada to speak against our country at the IAEA governing board. The Canadian government is under pressure from the public opinion. Canadians says Iran rubberstamped Kazemi’s case.

Q: Europe said the United States had launched a unilateral action on Iraq. Iran’s nuclear case has helped it gain a status to create a bipolar world. What do you think?
A: Europeans maintained that the Resolution 1441 did not allow any invasion of Iraq but the time was running short and the United States launched its invasion. The Europeans said the war was illegal but they finally bowed to US pressure. After the occupation of Iraq, France contributed to Resolution 1483 and it had to recognize this situation in Iraq. The Europeans demonstrated to the United States that its financial losses would decline if it sought their assistance. Now Americans and Europeans are cooperating on the Middle East.

Q: Is Europe really willing to have Iran give up its nuclear programs?
A: NPT does not bar any country from enrichment of uranium unless they prove non-peaceful. Europeans say Iran should prove the peaceful nature of its programs and that is why they oblige Iran to freeze its enrichment. The Europeans are imposing their views with technical finesse. They are playing with objective guarantees. They may go further and ask Iran not to do anything relevant to nuclear programs. They demand that Iran prove it is peaceful and they want Tehran to scrap its enrichment programs.

Q: If Iran agrees to freeze uranium enrichment, will the West provide us with necessary equipment to generate electricity?
A: The thorny issue is that Iran proves the peaceful nature of its programs. We have not reached the stage to speak about economic interactions. IAEA chief says Iran should show transparency in its programs.

Q: Why have the Europeans promised Iran membership to World Trade Organization while they cannot keep such a pledge?
A: Europeans do not have the final say on WTO entry and the United States should give the go-ahead. The Europeans are preoccupied with “firm and objective guarantees”. The Europeans try their best to convince the United States but they have so far failed. President Bush has promised incentives to Iran. We should wait and see what the Europeans would do next


Sunday Times:
’Israel has approved military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, if diplomatic efforts fail’

Analyst David Essing:
’Apparently report is part of carrot and stick policy being coordinated by US’

Broadcast March 13th, 2005 on

The British newspaper the Sunday Times reports that Israel’s security cabinet has approved an airborne operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities if all else fails to block the ayatollahs from acquiring nuclear weapons. PM Ariel Sharon was said to have convened the secret session at his Negev farm last month. The newspaper also reported that the US approved the Israeli strike. David Essing says although there is no confirmation on the report, it may be part of a 'carrot and stick' policy now being coordinated by the Bush administration to prevent the Iranians from producing 'the bomb'.

David Essing reports:

Iranian Reactor

An Israeli air strike to knock out Iran's nuclear weapons drive – this is not the first time such a report has surfaced recently. Several weeks ago, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney spoke of how Israel might go solo and destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities before they pass 'the point of no return'. The Israeli intelligence assessment is Iran is just months away from that point; the independent capability to enrich uranium to weapons grade for nuclear weapons. This is the final missing link in the Ayatollahs' drive for acquiring the 'bomb'. IDF intelligence says the Iranians would then be able to produce nuclear weapons within a couple of years. Their Shihab 3 ground-to-ground missiles, with a range of over thirteen hundred kilometers can be armed with nuclear warheads with the capability to hit Israel, most Middle East countries and a number of European capitals. The Iranians are known to be developing longer-range rockets and even intercontinental missiles capable of reaching the U.S. But now to the veracity of the London Times story which is not being confirmed by any Israeli source.

First - the whole report is a 'cock and bull' story fabricated by the newspaper – highly improbable
Second - an unauthorized Israeli or foreign source leaked the story – highly improbable
Third - an authorized Israeli source deliberately leaked the story through one source or another to the newspaper- most probable.

So if Israel has leaked the story WHY and WHY NOW? Despite the diplomatic efforts by Britain, France and Germany, Teheran is as defiant as ever in rejecting international monitoring of its nuclear program. The offer by U.S. President George W. Bush to join the Europeans in trying the diplomatic route also appears to have hit a dead end. The American offer to throw in some economic incentives has also been rejected by an Iranian spokesman who declares 'no pressure, incentive or threat can force Iran to give up its rights!' The Iranians apparently believe they can win the race before the U.S. and Europeans get around to imposing sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.

The Israeli Stick - The question is sometimes raised about why so much pressure is put on Iran and not on Israel, which has a nuclear reactor at Dimona and is thought to have a nuclear arsenal of its own. Aside from the technical aspect of Iran's commitment as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Teheran is on record declaring that Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth. Moreover, Ayatollah Rafsanjani once spoke publicly about how one Muslim nuclear bomb could annihilate the entire state of Israel. The Iranians back up these threats by arming, training and bankrolling Hizbullah terrorists in south Lebanon who pose a constant threat to Israel, even though the U.N. has confirmed that IDF forces have withdrawn from all of Lebanese territory. Teheran and Damascus have also supplied Hizbullah with some 13,000 rockets, which can hit Israeli population centers in northern Israel down the Coastal Plain to Hedera. In addition, Iran and its Hizbullah proxies are also inciting Palestinian terror organizations to resume attacks on Israel. The tentacles of Iranian terror are also suspected of playing a key role in the horrendous bombings of Jewish centers in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Eitan Ben Eliyahu
So, the Iranians can be counted upon to back up their threats with deeds.
General (ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu, a former commander of the Israel Air Force, says obviously Israel must take the Iranian nuclear threat seriously. Interviewed on Israel Radio, he refused to relate to the ‘London Times’ story but he did make several observations. Ben Eliyahu noted that several years ago, the Israel Air Force opted for buying a 'mix' of longer range F-15 fighter bombers together with F-16s which would enable the IAF to conduct long range operations. He explained that an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would be more 'complicated' that the Osiraq raid in Iraq because of the greater distances and the fact that the Iranian facilities were spread over the country. However, Ben Eliyahu was confident that the IAF could carry out such a mission.

The Timing: The U.S. has agreed to soften its stance on Iran and to back the European 'dialogue' with the Ayatollahs. The Bush administration is ready to join the Europeans in dangling some 'carrots' to the Iranians for halting their nuclear weapons drive. But 'The Great Satan', as the Iranians brand the Americans, has not backed off its declared stance that the Iranian regime must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel, ' The Little Satan' is apparently being cast in the role of 'the big stick'; a warning to the Iranians that they may have to cope with an 'Israeli point of no return' before they reach their own 'nuclear point of no return!'

David Essing, IsraCast, Jerusalem

The stillness at PM House

The Indian Express
TVR Shenoy
10th March, 2005

An acquaintance of Dr Manmohan Singh once asked me: "Why do you think
there are so many guards around Race Course Road?" I mumbled something
about security, slightly annoyed over the flippancy of the question.
"Wrong!" came the triumphant response, "They are there to keep the poor
man from running away!"
Is there any prime minister to whom the adjective 'poor' has been
applied so frequently? Nobody pretended Manmohan Sing possessed any
political authority when he was asked to move into Race Course Road, but
there was a general consensus that he was an essentially decent man who
could also keep the machinery of government oiled. The past five weeks
have cast a question mark over even that claim.
When King Gyanendra dismissed the Deuba ministry our prime minister and
his external affairs minister were, by Manmohan Singh's own admission,
taken unaware. Even as New Delhi was digesting the news reports, arrived
of another unconstitutional coup - this time in Panaji. Governor Jamir
had kept the prime minister and the home minister out of the loop. Next,
it was Ranchi's turn to grab the headlines thanks to its enterprising -
if not mathematically blessed - governor, Syed Sibtey Razi. The
Opposition had alerted Manmohan Singh and Shivraj Patil that mischief
was afoot; their helplessness was evident despite the 48-hour advance
Everyone agrees that neither Manmohan Singh nor Shivraj Patil planned
the smash-and-grab raid in Jharkhand. They are honourable men, and they
have tried - albeit after a nudge from the president - to repair the
damage. It is not their personal honour, however, which is the issue
here but the fact that they are political lightweights, mere minnows in
a sea ruled by sharks. Why would any politician worth the name bother
with a prime minister who has never made it to the Lok Sabha, or with a
home minister who lost his own seat in the last General Election?
It is a short step from polite indifference to brutal contempt. The home
minister assured the Opposition last Thursday - March 3 - that Syed
Sibtey Razi was all set to ask Arjun Munda to form a ministry. The
governor of Jharkhand invited Shibu Soren barely two hours later. I do
not believe Shivraj Patil was trying to mislead the BJP leaders who
spoke to him (what would he gain by doing so?). The only possibility,
then, is that someone else had fed the home minister a piece of rubbish,
and he fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Just as the prime minister
reputedly fell for King Gyanendra's bald declaration that he had no
intention of dumping the Deuba ministry...
The foreign policy establishment's latest excuse is that the new
Research & Analysis Wing chief took charge even as the royal coup in
Kathmandu was taking place. Yet there had been no dearth of warnings,
not least reports in the foreign and Indian media. Delhi's being taken
by surprise was not a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of
common sense.
India can survive a malicious prime minister and home minister. We came
through the Emergency, didn't we? But I am not so certain that we can
sail through if important ministers are weak or easily manipulated. That
is what I call the administrative case against Manmohan Singh, but there
is also a moral charge to be laid at his door.
The prime minister's only political asset is his reputation for probity.
The Prime Minister's Office under Manmohan Singh is, arguably, cleaner
than ever before. (I say nothing about its being efficient or
effective!) Yet events in Goa and in Jharkhand have succeeded in doing
the impossible, they have cast a shadow on Manmohan Singh's ethics.
Whether or not the prime minister had inside information on the
attempted coups in Panaji and in Ranchi is actually a secondary issue.
(Although he could have had no illusions about why Priya Ranjan
Dasmunshi and Subodh Kant Sahay flew to Ranchi after the antics in Goa.)
I want to raise a more fundamental question: why didn't Manmohan Singh
publicly condemn the attempted coup in Ranchi after the news broke?
A symbolic gesture would have sufficed. All the president did was to
summon Syed Sibtey Razi to Delhi. Everyone got the message without the
president having to say a single word. Why didn't the honourable
Manmohan Singh and the decent Shivraj Patil have the moral courage to
take the same step?
Ultimately, it is for Manmohan Singh to justify Syed Sibtey Razi's and
S.C. Jamir's conduct to Parliament, in fact to India at large. I have no
idea how he proposes to do so. We would not accept it as an excuse if a
chowkidar told us, "Please don't sack me, after all I didn't commit the
robbery!" Should we expect a lesser standard of a prime minister?
This is a prime minister who seems to be curiously absent when important
decisions are being made or defended. His ministry ignored reports from
Nepal until it was too late. He wrung his hands over Goa. When the Prime
Minister's Office reportedly rebuked the Intelligence Bureau for its
'failure' to track the five independent Jharkhand MLAs, it may have been
the only response taken independent of Rashtrapati Bhavan's hints. (I
say nothing of the morality of using the Intelligence Bureau to hound
the Opposition.)
Weep, if you will, for Nepal's deposed Sher Bahadur Deuba and Sariska's
vanished tigers, yet spare a thought too for Race Course Road's dismal