November 20, 2009

PM-Obama Summit : Time for plain speaking

by Rajinder Puri

As Dr Manmohan Singh visits Washington for his meeting with President Obama one thing is clear. Unless President Obama satisfies Dr Singh with the private briefing of his China visit India should be prepared to fundamentally alter its attitude and policy towards America. President Obama’s public posture regarding China’s role in South Asia may not conform to his private endeavor. America is critically dependent on China’s goodwill right now. Only Dr Singh from his closed door talks will be able to assess the direction of President Obama’s roadmap in South Asia. The rest of us will have to watch both the US and Indian government very closely in order to judge whether or not India’s national interest is being irrevocably compromised.

In their joint statement President Obama and President Hu agreed that USA and China together would “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan”. This must be sweet music to China. It puts America’s stamp of approval to the efforts of China’s proxies in South Asia that attempted to make China a full-fledged member of SAARC.

This scribe had written earlier that a peace agreement with Pakistan must precede any final settlement with China. Otherwise Beijing would play peace maker between India and Pakistan and become the big brother in South Asia to render India into one of its client states. That is precisely how things are shaping up.

This scribe has repeatedly drawn attention to the corporate lobby in America which was described as the real axis of evil. In its indiscriminate search for profit it made America a huge debtor nation of China and seriously compromised US security. This lobby has overwhelming influence over American politics and mainstream media. It has hobbled US presidents in their first terms and compromised them through scandal in their second terms to extract obedience. Only President Bush succeeded in avoiding vulnerability to blackmail in his second term. He then attempted to undo some of the disastrous policies imposed on him by the Neo-Conservative lobby during his first term. He initiated the Indo-US Nuclear deal as an opening to a strategic alliance with India that would have created an Asian balance of power with China.

That was not to be. The US-China corporate lobby with its long reach scuttled any such move by manipulating Indian leaders of the Left and BJP to join hands in scuttling the real intent of the deal to reduce it to a mere energy issue. Little wonder that during the recent Hindustan Times Summit when asked why China got so much importance over India, Bush replied coldly and with a tinge of bitterness: “You must learn to live with that.”

Why the recent Obama-Hu statement on South Asia should cause worry is that President Obama appears very much to be a creature of the US-China corporate lobby. This scribe never had doubts about that even during the US election campaign. On November 23, 2008 he pointed out:

“Obama could afford to spurn Federal poll funding and managed to acquire the biggest campaign fund in US history. He has exceeded the Bush campaign fund for the second term. Obama is spending more than four times what McCain does on advertising. So how can he lose? Thanks to Goldman Sachs and buddies who first displayed confidence in him, Obama’s list of donors continued to swell. After his expected victory -- poof! The global crisis will start to fade and disappear.”

Warnings about the US selling India short had been issued in these columns much earlier. The basic choice was: Should South Asian stability be achieved through China becoming hegemonic and imposing peace in South Asia on its own terms, or by creating an Indo-centric South Asian Community based on cultural unity that would act as a bloc to balance China. As early as November 23, 2005 it was written in these columns: “Due to economic compulsions America desperately wants China to democratize itself. That was the purpose of President Bush’s visit to Beijing last week. America’s security establishment is now silently battling with its business establishment. President Bush is caught in the crossfire.

Would not America therefore gladly sell India short in an effort to buy China’s cooperation? That is why the Indian government should think twice before accepting American advice related to China or Pakistan. It must evolve an independent security paradigm relying on its own strength.”

On June 21, 2008 it was written: “Has the US decided to dump China? No way... The US seeks closer ties with India without weakening ties with China. What the Indian government must be very cautious about is the exact opposite of what worries (Indian critics). The government must remain alert that closer Indo-US ties will not be at the cost of India’s interests to the benefit of China…the preponderant view in China up till now is to deny India its legitimate space.”

The recent Obama-Hu summit makes these concerns real and urgent. It remains to be seen how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acquits himself in Washington.
November 18, 2009

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Obama - China

" is an amazingly shocking act of insensitivity on the part of Obama and his policy advisers to project China as a benign power with a benevolent role in South Asia---- "

"It is politically naive on the part of Obama to expect that Indian political and public opinion will accept any role for China in South Asia in matters which impact on India's core interests......"

-- B Raman

Obama's Failure to Understand Indian Distrust of China

by B. Raman

The failure of President Barack Obama to understand the distrust of China in large sections of the Indian civil society has landed the US in a situation in which the considerable goodwill between India and the US created during the administration of his predecessor George Bush stands in danger of being diluted by his unthinking words and actions.

2. The distrust of China in the Indian civil society is much deeper than even the distrust of Pakistan. Even today, despite Pakistan's continued use of terrorism against India, there is some goodwill for the people of Pakistan in many sections of the Indian civil society. As against this, outside the traditional communist and other leftist circles, one would hardly find any section which trusts China ---its Government as well as its people.

3. The Indian distrust of China arises mainly from three factors. First, the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Second, China's role in giving Pakistan a military nuclear and missile capability for use against India. Third, the Chinese blockage of the pre 26/11 efforts in the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council to declare the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), as a terrorist organisation and its subsequent opposition for a similar declaration against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JED).

4. The dubious Chinese stand on the issue of Pakistani use of terrorism against India is viewed by many in India as amounting to collusion.

5. The Indian suspicions of China have been magnified in recent years by Beijing's Look South policy. China is not a South Asian power, but it has sought to create for itself a large South Asian presence by developing a military supply relationship with the countries of the region, by helping India's neighbours in the development of their infrastructure of strategic importance such as ports and by supporting the Maoists of Nepal.

6. At a time when concerns in India over the increasing Chinese strategic presence and influence in India's neigbourhood have been increasing, it is an amazingly shocking act of insensitivity on the part of Obama and his policy advisers to project China as a benign power with a benevolent role in South Asia---- whether for promoting understanding between India and Pakistan or for influencing developments in other countries of the region.

7. It is politically naive on the part of Obama to expect that Indian political and public opinion will accept any role for China in South Asia in matters which impact on India's core interests. Bush's China policy had favourable vibrations in India by highlighting the threats that are likely to be posed by its military modernisation made possible by its economic power. A convergence of concerns over China between Washington and New Delhi laid the foundation for the strategic relationship between the countries.

8. Obama's projection of China as a trustworthy partner of the US in jointly tackling long-standing contentious issues in South Asia shows a shocking ignorance of the fact that China was one of the causes of the persistence of these issues. Its effort has always been not to promote mutual understanding and harmony in South Asia, but to keep India isolated by keeping alive the old distrusts and animosities and creating new ones.

9. At a time when Indian public opinion was looking forward to fruitful results from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US, reports from Beijing on Obama's visit to China would strengthen the impression that Obama is not India's cup of tea.

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

The Big Picture

By Bharat Verma

Issue: Vol 24.4 Oct-Dec 200

9New Delhi cannot afford to sit around while others plot its destruction.

Surrounded with sullied strategic environment and the spreading fire that engulfs the region, New Delhi can either continue to live in fear as it has in the past, or fight back.

There are two distinct threats that endanger the existence of the Union.

First are the imperial ambitions of China that threaten to ultimately dismember the Indian Union in twenty or thirty parts. To succeed in its aim, Beijing over a period of time unleashed the first phase of the strategy and intelligently encircled India. This initial phase resulted in shrinking New Delhi’s strategic frontiers in its vicinity. Indians unwittingly made the Chinese task a cakewalk, as they were preoccupied with internal bickering for short-term personal gains, overlooking the vicious expansionist agenda designed jointly by Beijing and Islamabad to tear apart the Union.

Even as it pretended to withdraw its covert support to the rebels in India’s northeast in late seventies, China took advantage of Islamabad’s hatred for India, and deftly invested in Pakistan to carry out the task on its behalf.

The primary segment of the Chinese strategy moved with clockwork precision by investing in autocratic and Islamic fundamentalist elements in countries on India’s periphery, i.e., Myanmar, Bangladesh and Maoists in Nepal. In Sri Lanka, while Indians dithered, Beijing and its proxy Pakistan quickly moved in to help arm Colombo against the LTTE, develop the Hambantota port, etc. While the adversary invested in encircling India on its land and sea frontiers, Indians merrily continued to indulge in their favorite past time, i.e. meaningless and endless debates.

Invited by Islamabad, the Chinese moved into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). With growing irrelevance of Pakistan as a nation-state, this area in times to come will become Chinese Occupied Kashmir (CoK). Similarly, China fabricated its territorial claim on Bhutan and is working to eclipse the prevailing Indian influence there.

Is New Delhi prepared to defend its strategic frontiers in Bhutan unlike our timid response in Tibet?

The second phase of the long-term strategy to unravel India based on smaller geographical regions is now underway. After successfully encircling India, the recent spurts in Chinese incursions on the border, objections to the PM’s visit to Arunachal, lobbying against India in ADB, the drama of apportioning official annual budgets for the development of the so-called Southern Tibet (Arunachal), devising opinion polls against India, issuing visas on separate sheets to residents of India from Kashmir, etc., are clear pointers in that direction.

The concluding part of the plot of unraveling the Union, if successful, will remove the challenge to the unquestioned supremacy of China in Asia.

China’s initial thrust succeeded not only in effectively rolling back India’s influence in its external periphery but also helped its proxies to extend their tentacles deep into India, threatening the Union’s internal stability.

Therefore, the second distinct aspect that endangers the existence of the Union is the rapidly increasing internal security threat.

While the external adversary devised strategy to shrink India’s influence in its ‘near abroad’, the individual States’ inability to govern ensured rollback of authority towards their respective capitals. Indian sway unwittingly stands reduced simultaneously, within its borders and in its immediate vicinity. Combined intensity of the external and the internal threat, where each feeds on the other, if not handled with ruthlessness, will unravel India in times to come.

Negligence in governance is primarily responsible and permits the hostile external actors to take advantage of the internal dissent to further their imperial ambitions.

To power itself out of the largely self-inflicted external-internal encirclement New Delhi should work out a comprehensive counter-strategy with an offensive orientation. For an enduring win against the heavy odds, the national goal should be to emerge as the single most dominant power in Asia by 2020.

This aim envisages an economically powerful India backed by extraordinary military capabilities and reach, and formation of potent international alliances that help defend multi-cultural democratic values under adverse conditions in Asia. Instead of endlessly ceding strategic space as in the past sixty-two years, we must learn to fight at multiple levels, and secure and extend our influence in Asia through hard and soft power on land and sea.

Pursuit of this singular national goal will automatically force us to gear up the entire infrastructure, resources, policies and strategies towards the fulfillment of this endeavor. At present, we are an inward looking, bickering, dithering and indecisive nation. New Delhi lacks the key aspiration and therefore the vision, that motivates and impels a nation to excel and achieve worthy living standards for its citizens. Centrality of such national core ambition will remove the prevailing confusion and the attendant aimlessness.

However, to be the pre-eminent Asian power, it is essential that New Delhi first set its own house in order by reclaiming the space lost within to the non-state actors.

Lack of skills and direction, self-serving gimmicks and dwindling integrity in the Civil Administration ended up in handing over the control of forty percent area to the Maoists and ten percent on the borders to the insurgents. It is vital that the State recaptures this space in the shortest possible time frame and establishes its authority up to the borders. Otherwise, India will be the next state after Pakistan to be consumed in by civil war.

Since the Maoists and the insurgents are armed and supported by the external actors, it is appropriate that they be dealt by exercise of requisite military force, before development and effective policing can take roots. The nation is witness to the fact that Indian Police or for that matter the Civil Administration just does not have what it takes to disarm those who wield weapons against the State.

To rapidly develop the sinews of the Civil Administration including the Police to face war like situation brewing inside, it is crucial to inject military thinking and the muscle. First, the State should infuse military talent by offering attractive terms and conditions to the retired military personnel on fixed tenure and contract basis to take the battle effectively into the heartland of Maoists and the insurgents. They are fairly young, have military skills, are motivated, and understand combat in all its hues to take on the Maoists and the insurgents.

Second, from the pool of retired military personnel, create military advisory cells in the Home Ministry of the states and at the centre with adequate resources. Inter-link them with each other on a national grid to develop military appreciation of the situation on the ground and offer clear and decisive options. Third, since its a long haul, the central and all state police forces should pay the Indian Army and the Navy to select and train at least 100 constables each year in their various regimental training centre to augment the armed constabulary. Fourth, Indian Army can select and train a few officer cadets every year for Indian Police Service, in its Officer Training Academy in Chennai on the same tough pattern as the military officer cadets. This will rapidly induct military thinking and sinews that the Civil Administration urgently requires to fulfill the task at hand.

The success of expanding Chinese strategic reach in Asia is due to the singular fact that, unlike other communist parties, Communist Party of China from its inception has the advantage of precise military thinking inside the party, as PLA officers are integral to it. The above suggestions are particularly relevant to pacifist India, as military thinking in most of the other cultures, is a natural component.

In addition, remove all man made barriers like inner line permits etc to allow inter-mingling of citizenry, and establishment of businesses and industry into the Northeast and Kashmir and other states. While the terrorist, jehadi and the infiltrator forcibly change the demography, citizens are not allowed to settle and buy land in many areas of the Union. Such contradictions besides being illogical defy national integration, consolidation and fusion of the nation into one entity. However, we should avoid forced settlements like the Han Chinese in Tibet or Pakistan in the Shia majority Northern Areas.

But of course, the writ of the state cannot be re-established within, unless it can deliver high quality governance and development programs.

If India had developed its military power on requisite scale and demonstrated the gumption to use it when and where necessary in the past sixty-two years, if the foreign office had injected military spine into its policy making, and if the enemy knew that New Delhi would respond ruthlessly if threatened, with a clear message, “Don’t mess with us!” - I am convinced that multiple wars would not have been imposed on India. Neither export of terrorism would have occurred on the scale it does, nor China would have dared to be so nasty. Adequate military preparedness and the ability to wield it tellingly act as deterrence, taking away the cost-benefit ratio of war from the adversary.

To emerge as the dominant force in Asia, it is therefore, essential that offensive orientation in thinking be injected across the spectrum from a young age. This entails confronting adverse geopolitical situations differently to achieve dominance.

Beijing has created an excellent infrastructure of roads and railway network in Tibet that allows them to bolster its hostile posture towards New Delhi. To create similar infrastructure on our side of the border is going to be time consuming. Therefore, if push comes to a shove, how can we innovate to neutralize the imminent threat posed by the adversary? We should induct massive heavy lift capabilities for troops by introducing fleet of helicopters and transport aircrafts on war footing. Initiation of superior means of mobility for the troops and extraordinary firepower will act as a robust deterrence.

We should create military capabilities to disrupt enemy’s rail supply line to Tibet. Indian thinkers are nervous at China’s declaration to further extend the railway line to Nepal and Myanmar. Brought up on pacifism, they forget that railway lines and roads can move traffic in two directions. Therefore, in case hostility breaks out, we must ensure military wherewithal to dominate these railway lines and use it to induct our troops in the reverse direction.

We must always plan to take war to the enemy using his vulnerabilities!

Kashmir legally acceded to the Indian Union, therefore, in my mind there is no dispute. However, Tibet and Sinkiang (East Turkistan) were forcibly annexed by China. These indeed are matters of dispute. As sovereign nations, India and Tibet did not have any major boundary dispute. Therefore, illegal occupation of Tibet by China does not bestow on it any legitimacy to raise bogus boundary claims on India. Similarly, Baluchistan was tricked into joining Pakistan. This also can be a subject of dispute.

New Delhi should learn to think differently!

Wielding the weapon of psychological warfare, the Chinese recently prodded their friends in Pakistan to project via the Indian media that this is going to be the Chinese century and in Asia, the American influence is going to disappear leaving Beijing as the dominant power. Therefore, India must decide whether it wants to side with the losing Western Alliance led by America or the winning side led by China? These are symptoms of acute anxieties in Beijing and Islamabad. The presence of Americans in Afghanistan-Pakistan and the growing Indo-US strategic partnership unnerves China.

However, despite technological superiority, Americans in Afghanistan without India’s help cannot win the war. They just do not have adequate boots-on-the-ground. Similarly, India on its own cannot prevail in this region and requires assistance of the Western Alliance. There is a synergy of purpose. Equally true is the fact that Americans are fighting India’s war too. If they withdraw from the AF-PAK area, the entire Jihad factory will descend mercilessly upon India to create mayhem. Hence, it is in India’s national interest to synergize with the West in AF-PAK to benefit from the resource rich Central Asia and deny the centuries’ old route of invasion to the adversary.

New Delhi must contest and reclaim the strategic space lost within and in its vicinity. Otherwise, in times to come, the Union will slip into civil war and finally wither away.

Bharat Verma, Editor Indian Defence Review and author of the book Fault Lines.

November 19, 2009

Kaoma - Lambada

To please China, US slights India

Shobori Ganguli

US President Barack Obama’s China visit has put the writing on the wall in bold: China is the next superpower the world must watch out for. Clearly, the US realises there is little it can do to prevent China’s phenomenal rise and growing influence; it has therefore decided to partner that growth. And, what better way than to use a presidential visit to Beijing to declare America’s most serious geopolitical rival Asia’s Big Boss and cozy up to a major global player in a rapidly multipolarising world. Admittedly, none can deny that China has been moving in that direction with very sure steps; it was only a matter of time before the US acknowledged that. Following his summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Mr Obama therefore said, “The Sino-US relationship has never been more important in our collective future.”

Except, the declaration comes at a huge cost for India which, following the Indo-US nuclear deal, was being hailed as a strategic partner of the US, a counterbalance to China’s alarming growth in the region and in the world. While the deal clearly mortgaged India’s nuclear freedom, the Manmohan Singh Government drew false comfort from becoming a “strategic” partner of the US. Mr Obama’s joint statement with Mr Hu now categorically indicates that far from being a possible counter-China presence in Asia India is, in fact, a subject of joint US-China monitoring, a perception Mr Obama has merely offered to “share” with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the latter’s forthcoming visit to the US.

The Obama-Hu statement begs serious and immediate attention. In a highly inexplicable, unprovoked and offensive manner, the joint statement says both “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan”. The casualness with which India has once again been hyphenated with Pakistan is alarming, to say the least. It was indeed an arduous diplomatic drill for India during the 1999 Kargil conflict when the world in unison reprimanded two nuclear neighbours for baring their fangs at each other. However, global capitals soon realised that Indian restraint alone had prompted US intervention which forced Pakistan to back off. In the subsequent years, courtesy some hectic diplomacy by its leadership, India was able to convince the world that it was a mistake to measure the two nuclear armed states with the same yardstick. India’s economic growth and political credibility in the decade that followed finally gave world powers the confidence to de-hyphenate the two South Asian neighbours and deal with India as an emerging global power and with Pakistan as a failed Talibanised state.

As a country that calls India a strategic partner — an unstated tool to contain Chinese hegemony — the US would have surely known what the re-hyphenation of India and Pakistan on Chinese soil meant. Mr Obama may be new in office but surely an American President cannot be ignorant enough about India’s sensitivities to ask China — long seen as Pakistan’s aide in its conflict with India, its prejudices and ploys no state secret — to monitor an arena in which Beijing itself has geopolitical stakes. Is Mr Obama not aware that had it not been for Chinese help Pakistan, a rogue state, would never have acquired a nuclear weapon? Is he also unaware that China is engaged in huge infrastructure building in northern Kashmir so that Pakistan maintains a strategic edge over India? This, apart from the infrastructure build-up along China’s own disputed borders with India that have put a huge question mark on India-China relations of late.

Today the creator of a nuclear monster like Pakistan, with its own reasons to keep India down, has been entrusted the task of monitoring “good relations” between a failed state and a responsible democracy like India. Indeed, India’s stature vis-à-vis Pakistan has been reset to 1998 when a US-China joint statement by Mr Bill Clinton and Mr Jiang Zemin, ordered the two to “resolve peacefully the difficult and long-standing differences between them, including the issue of Kashmir”. Short of saying ‘intervention’ that statement had asserted that the US and China were “ready to assist in the implementation” of the resumption of dialogue between the two countries.

Times — and the language Americans would use with India — were to change in subsequent years, remarkably so after Mr Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000. Notably, after a five-day visit to India, Mr Clinton stopped over in Islamabad only for a few hours. The de-hyphenation had begun. Then came 9/11. With a terror attack on US soil, American engagement in the Asian arena was to change forever, an engagement that would leave India only as a bystander. In hindsight, India’s distance from what transpired in Afghanistan and Iraq and with what is now happening in Pakistan helped it stay above the conflict and prove to the world that the problem in South Asia is not an India-Pakistan border/territorial conflict but an alarmingly growing fundamentalist Islamic terror machinery that knows no borders.

Mr Obama’s visit to China comes at a time when India-China relations are at their pre-1962 worst and when US-China relations are at their all-time best. In such a scenario, for an American President to discuss India with China in the context of peace, stability and sustainable development in the region is patently offensive. Agreed, Mr Obama has to keep China in good humour. After all, the American and Chinese economies have become so interlinked that all other issues, including meeting the Dalai Lama, must be kept on hold. The compulsion is more serious on the American side. Also, it is quite evident that Mr Obama’s AfPak policy is headed nowhere. He is therefore seeking more partners in this theatre of conflict. By ceding China that strategic space the US can make a dignified exit out of a war it could never really fathom. The possible trade off: China minds Iran and North Korea.

In the process, if India’s strategic stature just got dwarfed in Beijing it has only the Manmohan Singh Government to blame. For, its first tenure saw India sign off crucial political leverage with the US in an inexplicably rushed nuclear deal. Its second tenure has seen its abject failure to counter growing Chinese belligerence on the border issue. Laughably, instead of outright rejection or outrage India’s feeble response to the China-US statement is that it is “committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a peaceful bilateral dialogue…A third country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary.”

Panda-Hugger Oba-maO damages India-US relationship

Panda-Hugger Oba-maO damages India-US relationship further by inflicting slow death by thousand cuts!!

Steps to take
Manmohan Singh has actively to counter and overcome India's strategic isolation, says N.V.Subramanian.

18 November 2009: A week ago, this writer anticipated both the end of the Indo-US nuclear deal and a US-China entente to India's disadvantage in a commentary titled "The coming isolation" (11 November 2009). The commentary also advised to pursue Dengian calm and to build India economically and militarily in this calm while striving for internal political unity alongside healthy democratic competitiveness.

In the immediate and short-term, the Manmohan Singh government has to take five steps to counter this strategic isolation of India, and a beginning has to be made in the days leading to the prime minister's "state visit" to the US at the invitation of president Barack Obama. Ducking out from the visit is not an option, because that would indicate cowardice more than anger, particularly at the reference to India in the context of disputes with Pakistan with China acting as a veritable South Asian umpire in the Obama-Hu Jintao joint statement.

The Indian government has chosen not to react to this development, which is a mistake. It is no good pointing out that Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin made worse references. Step one is that the foreign office should politely but toughly restate the position that India won't accept mediation on external issues that concern it and that it continues to distinguish between "friendly states" and states that have waged war against it. The first part of the statement will cover Kashmir and the second both China and Pakistan. It will signal to the US not to parcel up Asia as it wishes and not to monkey with India without completely destroying Manmohan Singh's America visit, which should anyhow be written off as calculated to produce nothing beyond fancy meals and photo-ops.

The second step should be gently to choke out defence deals with the US. This writer previously has argued that the one-twenty-six fighters' deal should not be awarded to the US, both because its offers are unexciting and since it is an unreliable and untrustworthy defence supplier, prone to sanctioning even its friends. The reneging of the nuclear deal (it amounts to that) reinforces the argument against intimate defence ties with the US (remember, Obama voted for the deal), which also demands interoperability with American forces. This writer foresees a two-front crisis looming up with China and Pakistan, and it would be perilous to depend on an unreliable defence partner such as the US.

The third step is to initiate intensive consultations with Iran (it has probably already begun), Russia and the Central Asian states about Afghanistan post the US withdrawal, which will come sooner than expected, because Obama does not have the stomach for a long war. This writer has analyzed in previous commentaries that China and Saudi Arabia with Pakistan will be the biggest beneficiaries of a US withdrawal, and the resultant Talibanization and Al-Qaedaization of Afghanistan will hurt Iran, Russia, the Central Asian states and India the worst (so it will the US but the Obama administration seems not particularly concerned). It will basically be a reversion to the pre-9/ 11 situation that will necessitate creation of "Northern Alliance II".

Fourth, the Manmohan Singh government should speed consensus within the military for a CDS, because the looming strategic threats demand that the three services operate seamlessly together. While the land army's role seems the biggest today, the air, space and naval forces will dramatically expand if the asymmetric warfare that defence minister A.K.Anthony significantly mentioned yesterday has to be meaningful. All three services will have equal and vast roles so any CDS has to be evenhanded, but without a CDS, jointness will be ineffective. It is good that Anthony has spoken of asymmetric warfare (it deters), but since the key to it is secrecy, flexibility, innovation and surprise (more than conventional doctrine), no more should be said.

Fifth, prime minister Manmohan Singh should make cabinet changes to meet the coming strategic challenges. S.M.Krishna should be pensioned off and Kamal Nath brought in, whose commerce ministry background is a bonus. Kamal Nath is daring and innovative, and he will drive the foreign office to perform. Anthony needs a sterling deputy, and Sachin Pilot (the son of a fighter pilot), reputedly the best of the young ministers, should be attached to him. Importantly, Pranab Mukherjee should be made deputy PM (he is no threat to the PM having announced his retirement after this term) because it will give him the status and weight in the Union cabinet to craft and implement strategic visions with Manmohan Singh's approval, while retaining the finance portfolio.

Finally, before his US visit, if possible, but certainly after he returns, Manmohan Singh should call an all-party meeting (that includes the CPI-M) to discuss and deliberate the emerging security and strategic threats and especially India's isolation. If the government is sincere in its engagement of the Opposition, it will gain the political consensus to counter, contain and overcome this strategic isolation.

N.V.Subramanian is Editor,

IRAN: Dangerous But Not Omnipotent

Source: RAND.ORG

Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East

By: Frederic Wehrey, David E. Thaler, Nora Bensahel, Kim Cragin, Jerrold D. Green, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Nadia Oweidat, Jennifer Li

Following the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iranian threat to U.S. interests has taken on seemingly unprecedented qualities of aggressiveness and urgency. Added to its provocative positions on the nuclear program, support for non-state militants, and development of threatening military capabilities is the sense that Iran is trying to effect far-reaching changes on the regional and even global stage. Within this context, this report aims to provide policy planners with a new framework for anticipating and preparing for the strategic challenges Iran will present over the next ten to fifteen years. In an analysis grounded in the observation that although Iranian power projection is marked by strengths, it also has serious liabilities and limitations, this report assesses four critical areas — the

  1. Iranian regime's perception of itself as a regional and even global power,
  2. Iran's conventional military buildup and aspirations for asymmetric warfare,
  3. Its support to Islamist militant groups,
  4. and its appeal to Arab public opinion.

Based on this assessment, the report offers a new U.S. policy paradigm that seeks to manage the challenges Iran presents through the exploitation of regional barriers to its power and sources of caution in the regime's strategic calculus.

Over the years, the United States has attempted a variety of approaches to address the Iranian challenge. To date, none has succeeded in making Iran less menacing to U.S. interests or more compliant with United Nations Security Council resolutions. The existing policy of creating a Cold War–like containment regime against Iran does not take into account features of the regional geopolitics and Iranian strategic culture.

Recommendations: Toward a New U.S. Policy Paradigm

  1. Continue strengthening international sanctions and other financial pressures targeted on the nuclear issue, but avoid unilateral punitive measures that are not likely to generate broad support.
  2. Pursue bilateral dialogues related to areas of common interest, such as instability in Iraq and Afghanistan, narcotics trafficking, natural disaster relief, refugees, and other humanitarian crises.
  3. Issue unambiguous statements about U.S. interests and intentions in the region, particularly regarding Iraq.
  4. Engage in efforts to build a multilateral regional security framework that is simultaneously inclusive of Iran and sensitive to the needs of the United States’ Arab friends and allies.

French Foreign Policy under Sarkozy

Written by Arthur Goldhammer on June 14, 2008 – 9:04 am

The presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy has certainly brought a change in the style of French foreign policy, but has it altered the substance? The answer, I will argue, is a qualified yes, not least because it is characteristic of the new French president to blend style and substance until the two become indistinguishable. Sarkozy, who transformed his party, the UMP, into a vehicle of personal power, may have inherited the Gaullist mantle, but he shares little of the Gaullist ethos of la grandeur. On June 27, 1958, the General, shortly after returning to power, described France as “a nation that the world needs if it is to avoid cataclysm.” Sympathetically parsed, this hyperbole might have made a kind of sense as the founding myth of Gaullist foreign policy in a world riven by the bipolar confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. But by the time Sarkozy assumed office just under half a century later, on May 16, 2007, it would have seemed aberrant to the point of madness. France was by then just one of a number of midrange powers vying for influence in a global arena reshaped by the military pre-eminence of the United States, the demise of the Soviet Union, the emergence of potent Asian economies, the proliferation of regional conflict, and growing competition over scarce raw materials, especially sources of energy.

Sarkozy’s long political apprenticeship shaped his approach to the strategic challenges of an increasingly multipolar world. Having made his way as one of a number of ambitious contenders with no clear advantage over his political rivals, Sarkozy was, earlier in his career, in the same situation in which France finds itself today. He was always careful to play in several games at once, so that when things weren’t going well in one arena, he could advance in others. He made shrewd instrumental use of institutions whose potential others failed to see (the city hall of Neuilly, the role of party spokesman, the finance and justice ministries, and the UMP itself, a party created to support a president, Chirac, who became Sarkozy’s enemy, but which Sarkozy commandeered and turned to his own advantage). He learned to maximize his influence by attracting the attention of the media. He cultivated relationships with both the powerful and the less powerful, and with those with whom he disagreed as well as those with whom he agreed. Last but not least, he did not hesitate to break off relationships at crucial moments or to mollify potential enemies at the risk of vexing erstwhile friends.

In his first year in office, Sarkozy has employed all of these tactics in advancing his foreign policy agenda. He has launched initiatives on many fronts: with the European Union, to win approval of the Lisbon Treaty; with Libya, to free the Bulgarian nurses held captive there, secure contracts with the government, and enlist Qaddafi in his plan for a Mediterranean Union; with Russia, to discuss the supply of gas to Western Europe; with Africa, to initiate a new relationship with France’s former colonies; to China, to negotiate economic issues and the sale of nuclear reactors; with Lebanon, to register French support of the new government; with the United Kingdom, to woo the British with the notion that France under Sarkozy had become more “Anglo-Saxon” in its outlook; with Germany, to smooth differences with Angela Merkel over the European Central Bank and the Mediterranean Union; with NATO, to begin consideration of full French integration into the military command structure; and with the United States, to signal a more flexible French position vis-à-vis American military engagements abroad.

To which of these initiatives is Sarkozy really committed? What priorities has he established? As always with Sarkozy, it is difficult to say. Indeed, inconsistency is the genius of his approach. He gets away with audacities that might be mistaken for blunders or incoherence in a man of firmer principle. If, for example, he were really the outright Atlanticist, not to say pro-American toady, that critics accuse him of being, would he have risked inviting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to Paris for a Bastille Day gathering of regional leaders to discuss the Union for the Mediterranean? The Americans ostensibly oppose talks with the Syrian, who shelters Hezbollah, has ties to Iran, and stands accused of the murder of American-backed leaders in Lebanon. But Israel is talking to Assad, and the United States may well have an interest in opening another channel of communication to him through France. The Union for the Mediterranean provides a convenient cover for such communication while at the same time enhancing France’s position as a regional broker. To bolster himself against domestic criticism for the overture to the dictator, Sarkozy was careful to stage a very public show of solidarity with the new Sleimane government in Lebanon. The gamble seems to have paid off in at least one way, moreover, because prominent Socialists Michel Rocard and Jack Lang have denounced critics of the invitation to Assad for thinking like politicians rather than statesmen.

These complex maneuvers belie the portrayal of Sarkozy as a mere showman interested solely in public relations coups, such as the images broadcast round the world of his then wife Cécilia leading the Bulgarian nurses out of the desert. His moves in the many interlocking games of his foreign policy are calculated and complementary. The goal is to accomplish as much as possible with the limited resources available. Losses—and the capitulation to Merkel on the Mediterranean Union must be counted as an early one—can be salvaged for gains in other contests, such as the struggle for influence in the Middle East. The freedom to act independently of the United States, as in the overture to Assad, allows France to assume a role that is complementary to American policy, neither opposed nor aligned.

Is Sarkozy the architect of his foreign policy? To suggest, as I have done, that his style is the fruit of his experience as a rising politician maneuvering among more powerful rivals might seem to indicate that his policy goals are idiosyncratic. In fact, he relies on a number of experienced advisors. Jean-David Levitte, a former ambassador to the United States, is perhaps the most important of these. Jean-Pierre Jouyet, his principal advisor for European Union affairs, is an experienced hand, having served on the staff of Jacques Delors when he was European Commission president and of Lionel Jospin when he was prime minister. And Claude Guéant, the secretary general of the Elysée, is thought to have played a key role in a number of initiatives, including the affair of the Libyan nurses and the response to a rebellion in Chad. Another advisor, speechwriter Henri Guaino, influenced the plan for the Mediterranean Union (now rebaptized the Union for the Mediterranean and scaled down in ambition) and wrote a speech outlining France’s new African policy, which did not go down well when the president delivered it in Dakar in July 2007.

So the president is not un cavalier seul in foreign policy. He has his team of close advisors. A conspicuous omission from this list is foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, whose presence in the cabinet in a sense confirms my contention that Sarkozy’s moves generally have multiple goals. Kouchner’s nomination signaled a symbolic commitment to human rights and humanitarian assistance, ideals with which Sarkozy has sporadically aligned himself, as when he criticized the Chinese crackdown in Tibet or the treatment of women by the Taliban. Yet such velleities are indulged only as long as they remain costless and sacrificed to expediency when the costs outweigh the gains: human rights did not figure prominently on the agenda in visits to Peking and Moscow. Kouchner’s appointment also served a domestic political purpose: it was a spectacular (but again relatively costless) overture to the Socialist opposition, and it limited a potential critic’s room for maneuver. Jouyet also came from the Left, and his nomination slathered salt on one of the deeper wounds in the left flank, dissension over France’s integration into Europe.

In French as in most other foreign policies, the importance of human rights recedes wherever economic issues become salient. And here the president’s personal stamp is very much in evidence. He is a man who admires wealth and respects entrepreneurial energies. He rarely travels abroad without a retinue of CEOs, and seldom does he return without a contract or two in hand. Securing future energy resources has been a principal axis of his policy from the beginning. Having approved the merger of the French gas company GDF with Suez, he has been keen to secure gas supplies from both Russia and North Africa. He is also committed to the promotion of nuclear power along with the fortunes of the largely state-owned firm Areva, a global leader in the nuclear industry. The deal he brokered with Libya included a promise of Libyan uranium for Areva along with a Libyan commitment to purchase nuclear power plants from the French company.

History, in short, has spared Sarkozy the need to seek an escape from the bipolar logic of the Cold War by way of a mythical resurrection of the previous century’s concert of nations, in which France was a major player. Yet he inherits a world that is increasingly multipolar once again, a world in which there are real gains to be made if the right cooperative formulas can be found. This is a game that the French president instinctively knows how to play. The world may have to find a way to avoid cataclysm without relying on France, but the Gaullist knack for combining bluff with bravado may prove to be a winning strategy for la Grande Nation as it shakes off its last lingering delusions of grandeur. Sobriety has its compensations, and Sarkozy seems to have made up his mind to enjoy as well as exploit them.

Arthur Goldhammer chairs the seminar for visiting scholars at Harvard’s Center for European Studies and is on the editorial board of the journal French Politics, Culture and Society. He has translated more than a hundred works by many of France’s most noted authors. In 1996 he was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture and in 1997 he was awarded the Médaille de Vermeil by the Académie Française. He maintains a blog on French politics at

Intel Brief: Poland On Edge Over Russian Drills

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Strategic Operations Excercise Centre, 2008

Russia's largest ever post-Cold War military games near the border with Poland, simulating a nuclear attack against its smaller neighbor, has put Warsaw on edge and sent it looking for new security assurances, Anna Dunin writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Anna Dunin for ISN Security Watch

Joint Russian-Belarusian war games, conducted in mid-September in Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, were part of the largest war games Russia has conducted at the eastern border of NATO territory since the end of the Cold War. The exercises, code named operation ‘Zapad-2009,'' included a simulated nuclear attack against Poland, suppression of an uprising by a Polish minority in Belarus and, despite being classified as defensive, included many operations of an offensive nature.

The war games likely were Russia's demonstration of strength and another attempt to intimidate Poland into cancelling any cooperation with the US on the issue of European missile defense.

Despite Polish government efforts to improve relations between the two countries, a new series of political confrontations between Russia and Poland is likely in the near future.

Many Poles, wary of Russia’s perceived imperialistic ambitions and its perception of Central and Eastern Europe as the Kremlin’s sphere of influence, regard the recent exercises as another attempt at intimidation by their eastern neighbor.

The idea of installing elements of the US missile defense shield in Poland or the Czech Republic has attracted much Russian criticism in recent years. In August 2008, only hours after Poland and the US signed the missile shield agreement, Russian Deputy Chief of Staff General Anatoly Nogovitsyn warned Poland that it had made itself a target for a nuclear strike.

While the Obama administration decided to cancel the original missile defense plan suggested by the Bush administration, Poland will still likely play a part in a revised European missile defense project. Additionally, the US plans to deploy ground-to-air Patriot missiles in 2010 and new SM-3 missiles in 2015 in Poland.

The games

The Russian and Belarusian armies conducted their ‘Zapad-2009’ (West-2009) joint military manoeuvres throughout September on Belarusian territory (near Lithuania and Poland) and in the Kaliningrad Oblast. Simultaneously, an exclusively Russian exercise dubbed ‘Ładoga-2009,’ which started on 10 August in the Leningrad military district, was in progress. Despite treating the two exercises as separate operations, the Russian General Staff considered them as the integral elements of its operationally and strategically significant ‘Autumn 2009’ training cycle.

As such, military analysts are treating the two as a united exercise and the largest exercise Russian forces have carried out in the last two decades. Official estimates suggest that approximately 13,000 soldiers took part in Zapad, while 7,000 participated in Ładoga. According to the Centre for Eastern Studies, however, the number of the troops taking part in the whole exercise was greater than 30,000. The highest-ranking military leaders of the Russian army, including chief of the Russian General Staff and commanders-in-chief of the Russian navy as well as ground forces, led the exercises. Moreover, the air, land and maritime components all took part in the manoeuvres.

Conducted so close to the Polish border, the exercises caused outrage in Poland, especially due to the simulated nuclear attack and the practicing of a landing on the coast of a ‘potential aggressor,’ Poland.

Symbolic significance

There were several symbolic elements of significance in the military exercises, particularly visible from the perspective of Russia's western neighbors. The first was the timing of the drills, right around the 70th anniversary of the Soviet aggression against Poland on 17 September 1939. The forces practiced attacking a gas pipeline and suppressing national minority uprisings in Belarus.

In Belarus, the Polish minority has long been a target of the process of Russification and persecuted by the pro-Kremlin government. The war games, despite their official defensive character, included a number of clearly offensive manoeuvres. The types of exercises, weaponry and troops involved, as well as the scenarios practised indicate that Russia has been rehearsing a conventional military campaign against a conventional opponent. The name of the drill, ‘West’, clearly refers to the large military exercise initially organized by the Soviet Union in 1981, which was a demonstration of power to the US and NATO.

Ładoga-2009 indeed resembles the Red Army’s preparation for the invasion of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and an attack at Finland in 1939. For the purpose of the exercises, the border between Russia and these states was accepted as a hypothetical front line.

The recent exercises were the largest military drills that Russia carried out at the border of the Baltic States since the Cold War. While the Kremlin insists that they were necessary for counterterrorism purposes, the types of forces deployed, tactics rehearsed and the priority level of the exercises sent a different message, a visible demonstration of power.

Sense of security

In early November, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski paid an official visit to the US in order to continue a political dialogue with the Obama administration, emphasizing bilateral security cooperation.

During panel discussions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Sikorski said that following the recent revision of missile defense plans by Washington, Poland required “some strategic reassurance” from the US, suggesting that the presence of American troops on Polish soil would provide a greater sense of security.

Currently, there are six American soldiers based in Poland. Sikorski mentioned that this need became particularly clear when Russia and Belarus conducted military exercises including 900 tanks near the Polish border, merely 250 kilometers away from Warsaw. When Poland joined NATO in 1999, the alliance assured Russia that no large NATO contingents would be based in Poland. However, Sikorski claims, the reassurance did not suggest that no forces would be present in Poland.

Numerous Russian media have interpreted Sikorski’s remarks at the CSIS, as an appeal to the US to deploy its army to Poland in order to defend it from Russian aggression. A number of Russian diplomats, radio commentators and journalists commented on Sikorski’s poor mental health, paranoia and “traditional” Polish anti-Russian sentiment.

The Polish Foreign Ministry quickly responded, calling on the interested parties to refer to the recording of the debate. While the intervention resulted in an apology from the Russian press agency Interfax, the reaction it provoked in Russian politics and media is a clear indicator of the tense relations between the two countries.

Nor did the significance of the recent Russian excercises go unnoticed by NATO, which will discuss the ‘West’ drills as well as the overall increased activity of the Russian army during an 18 November meeting, after which NATO foreign ministers will address that issue during a December summit.

Bypassing the Aid Trap in Pakistan

By R. Glenn Hubbard | Washington Post
Friday, November 13, 2009

The United States has committed $7.5 billion to aid Pakistan's social and economic development, but there is little evidence the funding will be effective. A better strategy, with proven results, is to utilize 'Marshall Plan' model to fit Pakistan's circumstances. This arrangement would aim to develop the domestic business sector, instead of allowing relatively ineffective foreign aid to supplant prosperity and security.

Congress recently approved $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan for social and economic development. The bill incited controversy by requiring that the U.S. secretary of state report to lawmakers on whether Pakistan's civilian government keeps effective control over its military, because many observers accuse some in the Pakistani military of having tolerated or even aided Islamic extremists since the 1980s.

But the bill itself should raise questions. After all, does Pakistan, or the U.S. Agency for International Development, or any other agency that will implement the aid actually know how to successfully spend these funds? In other parts of the world, especially Africa, foreign aid has been a spectacular failure in promoting social and economic development. This bill promises more of the same.

The United States has given Pakistan more than $10 billion in development aid since 1954. What has become of those funds? It certainly has not helped produce the kind of stability and prosperity that would help Pakistan offer its people an alternative to extremism. Nor has aid worked in Africa. Nothing indicates that an additional $7.5 billion will yield better results.

All of the world's prosperous countries became rich through the growth of a domestic business sector.All, however, is not yet lost. It will take time to disburse and spend the funds, and there could be a chance to recast the support in a more promising way. There is even an example of effective large-scale aid on which to draw: the Marshall Plan of postwar Europe, which is still recognized as the most successful aid program in history.

The essence of the Marshall Plan was loans to local businesses, which paid them back to their local governments, which used the money for commercial infrastructure to help those same businesses. The result was economic growth, employment and a stable middle class that opposed the popular communist parties across Europe. With creative adaptation, the same basic model can work in Pakistan.

Economic aid to Africa and Pakistan has tended to be allocated to government-directed development projects. More recently, such aid has funded projects by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), too. But all of the world's prosperous countries became rich through the growth of a domestic business sector. India and China are the most recent examples of this. A thriving local business sector is the only known path to prosperity and stability.

Some might argue that Pakistan is too different from postwar Europe for a Marshall Plan to work. But consider Greece, a poor and war-torn nation when the Marshall Plan was implemented. By the time the plan was ended, Greece was well on its way to prosperity. This model can be reinterpreted to best suit the Pakistan situation: The kinds of loans can vary widely, and the commercial infrastructure can range from training for accountants to the more traditional ports and roads.

The World Bank's Doing Business index ranks countries by how easy it is for citizens to start and run businesses. Among the 183 nations ranked, most of sub-Saharan Africa falls in the bottom half. Pakistan, at No. 85, is less anti-business than most poor countries, so a Marshall Plan there has a reasonable chance of success.

Right now, nothing in the package suggests that this $7.5 billion will do any better than previous development aid, largely because government and NGO aid projects make it harder for prosperity to take root. Aid projects hire qualified staff away from local businesses. For example, they deliver fertilizer to farmers instead of a local business doing it. And they remove incentive for Pakistan to make reforms that foster business development. After all, why make it easier for business when government and NGO projects give out so much money?

But a Marshall Plan would help Pakistan's efforts to encourage its local business sector. The efforts are there: In August, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani established the first Business Persons Council; it has 53 members from the local business community and is headed by the minister of finance. The council is to meet monthly "to recommend measures for improvement in business climate in Pakistan and develop a business and trade sector strategy for the country." This is a major shift from tradition, in which the government Planning Commission was solely in charge of economic policy. Foreign aid should work with this new effort rather than at cross-purposes with it.

Former secretary of state George Marshall famously suggested fighting the spread of communism in Europe through local business. That strategy could contribute to the battle against Islamic extremism. The current aid package should become a Pakistan Marshall Plan--before it's too late.

R. Glenn Hubbard is a visiting scholar at AEI and a member of AEI's Council of Academic Advisers

Israel, Pakistan and US

Jeff Gates (WORLD VIEW)

17 November 2009

When waging war “by way of deception,” the motto of Israel’s Mossad, well-timed crises play a critical agenda-setting role by displacing facts with what a target population can be deceived to believe. Thus the force-multiplier effect, when staged crises are reinforced with pre-staged intelligence. In combination, the two often prove persuasive.

Such agent provocateur operations typically include collateral incidents as pre-staging for the intended main event. Ongoing incidents suggest a follow-on operation is underway. Recent history suggests we’ll see an orgy of evidence that plausibly indicts a pre-staged Evil Doer. Though Iran is an obvious candidate, Pakistan is also a possibility where outside forces have been destabilising this nuclear Islamic nation with a series of violent incidents. Will it be coincidence if the next war—like the last—is consistent with the expansive goals of Jewish nationalists?

December 2007 saw the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Mark Siegel, her Ashkenazem biographer and lobbyist, had assured US diplomats that her return was “the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact.” President Pervez Musharraf had announced that resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict was essential to the resolution of conflicts in Iraq and neighbouring Afghanistan. That comment made him a target for Tel Aviv. During Bhutto’s two terms as prime minister, Pakistani support for the Taleban — then celebrated as the Mujahideen — enabled her to wield influence in Afghanistan while also catalysing conflicts in Kashmir. By fuelling tension with India, she also fuelled an Indo-Israel alliance as Tel Aviv provided New Delhi with an emergency shipment of artillery shells during a conflict over the Kirpal region of Kashmir.

In January 2009, Israel delivered to India the first of three Phalcon Airborne Warning & Control Systems (AWACS) shifting the balance of conventional weapons in the region. That sale confirmed what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier announced: “Our ties with India don’t have any limitation….” That became apparent in April when Israel signed a $1.1 billion agreement to provide India an advanced tactical air defense system developed by Raytheon, a US 
defense contractor.

In August 2008, Ashkenazem General David Kezerashvili returned to Georgia from Tel Aviv to lead an assault on separatists in South Ossetia with the support of Israeli arms and training. That crisis ignited Cold War tensions between the US and Russia, key members of the Quartet (along with the EU and the UN) pledged to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Little was said about the Israeli interest in a pipeline across Georgia meant to move Caspian oil through Turkey and on

Bhutto’s murder ensured a crisis that replaced Musharraf with Asif Ali Zardari, her corrupt husband. By Washington’s alliance with Zardari, the US could be portrayed as extending its corrupting influence in the region. On August 7, 2008, Zadari-led ruling coalition called for a no-confidence vote in Parliament against Musharraf just as he was departing for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. On August 8, heavy fighting erupted overnight in South Ossetia. As with many of the recent incidents in Pakistan, this violent event involved armed separatists. But for pro-Israeli influence inside the US government, would our State Department have installed in office the corrupt Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, leading to record-level poppy production? Is the heroin epidemic presently eroding Russian society traceable to Israel’s infamous game theory war-planners?

In late November 2008, a terrorist attack in Mumbai, India’s financial centre, renewed fears of nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan. When the attackers struck a hostel managed by Chabad Lubavitch, an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect from New York, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced from Tel Aviv: “Our world is under attack.” By early December, Israeli journalists urged that we “fortify the security of Jewish institutions worldwide.”

Pakistani cooperation with “Islamic extremists” created the impression of enhanced insecurity and vulnerability for the US and its allies. That perceived threat was marketed by mainstream media as proof of the perils of
 “militant Islam.”

With the Taleban and Al-Qaeda portrayed as operating freely in a nuclear-armed Islamic state, Tel Aviv gained traction for its claim that a nuclear Tehran posed an “existential threat” to the Jewish state. Meanwhile Israel’s election of an ultra-nationalist/ultra-orthodox coalition further delayed resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

More delay is destined to evoke more extremism and gain more traction for those marketing the “global war on terrorism.” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni argued after the assault in Mumbai: “Israel, India and the rest of the free world are positioned in the forefront of the battle against terrorists 
and extremism.”

In announcing that list, Islamabad was indicted by its exclusion even though Pakistan is dominantly Sunni and, unlike Iran’s Shia, abhors theocratic rule. The fact patterns suggest that Pakistan, not India, was the target of the murderous terrorism in Mumbai. Not surprisingly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent mission to Islamabad was a diplomatic disaster. Abrasive and arrogant, America’s top diplomat reinforced Pakistani concerns that it is surrounded by hostile forces and that the nation is being set up to fail by Jewish nationalist advisers to a nation it considered an ally. In a climate of heightened tensions, Clinton undermined US interests, boosted the Israeli case for a global war on “Islamo-fascism” and lent credence to the Clash of Civilisations.

As Afghanistan and Pakistan join other nations being destabilised by outside forces, key questions must be answered:

· Was India’s 9-11 a form of geopolitical misdirection meant to serve both the tactical goals of Muslim extremists and the strategic goals of Jewish nationalists? Who benefits — within Pakistan — from humiliation at the hands of India and the US?

· With Bhutto’s murder and Musharraf’s departure, the crisis in Mumbai drew Pakistani forces to the Indian border and away from the western tribal region. Was that the geostrategic goal of these well-timed crises? What role, if any, did Israel play?

· Is delay in ending the occupation of Palestine part of an agent provocateur strategy? Was the latest assault on Gaza part of this strategy?

Each of these crises incrementally advanced the expansionist agenda of the Zionists. Do these collateral incidents trace their origin to a common source? Is that source again using serial events to pre-stage a main event?

The public has an intuitive grasp of the source of this oft-recurring behaviour. An October 2003 poll of 7,500 respondents in member nations of the European Union found that Israel was considered the greatest threat to world peace. Is terrorism limited to “Islamo-fascists”? Are mass murders also deployed as a strategy of geopolitical manipulation by those who philosopher Hannah Arendt described as 
“Jewish fascists”?

Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership 
Solution. See

November 18, 2009



The failure of President Barack Obama to understand the distrust of China in large sections of the Indian civil society has landed the US in a situation in which the considerable goodwill between India and the US created during the administration of his predecessor George Bush stands in danger of being diluted by his unthinking words and actions.

2. The distrust of China in the Indian civil society is much deeper than even the distrust of Pakistan. Even today, despite Pakistan's continued use of terrorism against India, there is some goodwill for the people of Pakistan in many sections of the Indian civil society. As against this, outside the traditional communist and other leftist circles, one would hardly find any section which trusts China ---its Government as well as its people.

3. The Indian distrust of China arises mainly from three factors. First, the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Second, China's role in giving Pakistan a military nuclear and missile capability for use against India. Third, the Chinese blockage of the pre 26/11 efforts in the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council to declare the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), as a terrorist organisation and its subsequent opposition for a similar declaration against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JED).

4. The dubious Chinese stand on the issue of Pakistani use of terrorism against India is viewed by many in India as amounting to collusion.

5. The Indian suspicions of China have been magnified in recent years by Beijing's Look South policy. China is not a South Asian power, but it has sought to create for itself a large South Asian presence by developing a military supply relationship with the countries of the region, by helping India's neighbours in the development of their infrastructure of strategic importance such as ports and by supporting the Maoists of Nepal.

6. At a time when concerns in India over the increasing Chinese strategic presence and influence in India's neigbourhood have been increasing, it is an amazingly shocking act of insensitivity on the part of Obama and his policy advisers to project China as a benign power with a benevolent role in South Asia---- whether for promoting understanding between India and Pakistan or for influencing developments in other countries of the region.

7. It is politically naive on the part of Obama to expect that Indian political and public opinion will accept any role for China in South Asia in matters which impact on India's core interests. Bush's China policy had favourable vibrations in India by highlighting the threats that are likely to be posed by its military modernisation made possible by its economic power. A convergence of concerns over China between Washington and New Delhi laid the foundation for the strategic relationship between the countries.

8. Obama's projection of China as a trustworthy partner of the US in jointly tackling long-standing contentious issues in South Asia shows a shocking ignorance of the fact that China was one of the causes of the persistence of these issues. Its effort has always been not to promote mutual understanding and harmony in South Asia, but to keep India isolated by keeping alive the old distrusts and animosities and creating new ones.

9. At a time when Indian public opinion was looking forward to fruitful results from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US, reports from Beijing on Obama's visit to China would strengthen the impression that Obama is not India's cup of tea. (19-11-09)

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

Resignation Letter from US Foreign Service Officer Matthew P. Hoh

US Foreign Service Officer Matthew P. Hoh,
Senior Civilian Representative, Afghanistan

September 10, 2009

Ambassador Nancy J. Powell
Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Ambassador Powell,

It is with great regret and disappointment I submit my resignation from my appointment as a Political Officer in the Foreign Service and my post as the Senior Civilian Representative for the US Government in Zabul Province. I have served six of the previous ten years in service to our country overseas, to include deployment as a US Marine office and Department of Defense civilian in the Euphrates and Tigris River Valleys of Iraq in 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. I did not enter into this position lightly or with any undue expectations nor did I believe my assignment would be without sacrifice, hardship or difficulty. However, in the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan, in both Regional Commands East and South, I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan. I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end. To put simply: I fail to see the value or the worth in continued US casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war.

This fall will mark the eighth year of US combat, governance and development operations within Afghanistan. Next fall, the United States' occupation will equal in length the Soviet Union's own physical involvement in Afghanistan. Like the Soviets, we continue to secure and bolster a failing state, while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted by its people.

If the history of Afghanistan is one great stage play, the United States is no more than a supporting actor, among several previously, in a tragedy that not only pits tribes, valleys, clans, villages and families against one another, but, from at least the end of King Zahir Shah's reign, has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional. It is this latter group that composes and supports the Pashtun insurgency. The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The US and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non- Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified. In both RC East and South, I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.

The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency. In a like manner our backing of the Afghan government in its current form continues to distance the government from the people. The Afghan government's failings, particularly when weighed against the sacrifice of American lives and dollars, appear legion and metastatic:

· Glaring corruption and unabashed graft;

· A President whose confidants and chief advisors comprise drug lords and war crimes villains, who mock our own rule of law and counternarcotics efforts;

· A system of provincial and district leaders constituted of local power brokers, opportunists and strongmen allied to the United States solely for, and limited by, the value of our USAID and CERP contracts and for whose own political and economic interests stand nothing to gain from any positive or genuine attempts at reconciliation; and

· The recent election process dominated by fraud and discredited by low voter turnout, which has created an enormous victory for our enemy who now claims a popular boycott and will call into question worldwide our government's military, economic and diplomatic support for an invalid and illegitimate Afghan government.

Our support for this kind of government, coupled with a misunderstanding of the insurgency's true nature, reminds me horribly of our involvement with South Vietnam; an unpopular and corrupt government we backed at the expense of our Nation's own internal peace, against an insurgency whose nationalism we arrogantly and ignorantly mistook as a rival to our own Cold War ideology.

I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan. If honest, our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc. Our presence in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may lose control of its nuclear weapons. However, again, to follow the logic of our stated goals we should garrison Pakistan, not Afghanistan. More so, the September 11th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned and organized in Western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied to traditional geographic or political boundaries. Finally, if our concern is for a failed state crippled by corruption and poverty and under assault from criminal and drug lords, then if we bear our military and financial contributions to Afghanistan, we must reevaluate and increase our commitment to and involvement in Mexico.

Eight years into war, no nation has ever known a more dedicated, well trained, experienced and disciplined military as the US Armed Forces. I do not believe any military force has ever been tasked with such a complex, opaque and Sisyphean mission as the US military has received in Afghanistan. The tactical proficiency and performance of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines is unmatched and unquestioned. However, this is not the European or Pacific theaters of World War II, but rather is a war for which our leaders, uniformed, civilian and elected, have inadequately prepared and resourced our men and women. Our forces, devoted and faithful, have been committed to conflict in an indefinite and unplanned manner that has become a cavalier, politically expedient and Pollyannaish misadventure. Similarly, the United States has a dedicated and talented cadre of civilians, both US government employees and contractors, who believe in and sacrifice for their mission, but they have been ineffectually trained and led with guidance and intent shaped more by the political climate in Washington, DC than in Afghan cities, villages, mountains and valleys.

"We are spending ourselves into oblivion" a very talented and intelligent commander, one of America's best, briefs every visitor, staff delegation and senior officer. We are mortgaging our Nation's economy on a war, which, even with increased commitment, will remain a draw for years to come. Success and victory, whatever they may be, will be realized not in years, after billions more spent, but in decades and generations. The United States does not enjoy a national treasury for such success and victory.

I realize the emotion and tone of my letter and ask that you excuse any ill temper. I trust you understand the nature of this war and the sacrifices made by so many thousands of families who have been separated from loved ones deployed in defense of our Nation and whose homes bear the fractures, upheavals and scars of multiple and compounded deployments. Thousands of our men and women have returned home with physical and mental wounds, some that will never heal or will only worsen with time. The dead return only in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, loved vanished, and promised dreams unkept.

I have lost confidence such assurances can anymore be made. As such, I submit my resignation.


Matthew P. Hoh
Senior Civilian Representative
Zabul Province, Afghanistan

Obama's China(credit)card casts shadow on PM's US visit

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN 18 November 2009, 06:28pm IST

WASHINGTON: He bowed deeply before the Japan emperor out of respect in a moment captured by the cameras, but did he bend unseen before the Chinese leadership in acknowledgment of the Beijing's growing clout?

As President Barack Obama winds up his four-country East Asia tour with a final stop in South Korea on Wednesday before returning to Washington DC in time for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit next week, it's the China leg of his travels that has pundits of all aflutter. The question agitating their minds is whether his engagement with Beijing marked a visible shift in the international power dynamic, with the US openly acquiescing to Chinese influence in the world, with the possible return of a bi-polar world.

In the past few months Japan, Australia, New Zealand among others have bowed to Beijing on various issues. Obama himself postponed meeting the Dalai Lama in Washington DC in deference to Chinese sensitivities. But in Beijing, there was an unmistakable sense that he stooped to concur, that China talked to him not just as an equal, but as an ascendant power.

Experts noted that Beijing virtually micro-managed Obama’s visit, rejected US pleas on almost every major issue (monetary policy, climate change, human rights etc), and sent him back empty-handed. "US China in strained diplomatic embrace," read the Wall Street Journal headline of the encounter that didn't impress anyone and worried almost everyone.

Obama's reference to China's role in South Asia during the joint ''question-less'' presser was not part of the mainstream discussion in Washington DC, but South Asia experts who noted it differed on its significance. ''This is most unhelpful and counterproductive. It will cast a shadow over PM Singh's visit,'' said Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said she wouldn’t give it ''much significance,'' noting that it’s the ''kind of ritual statement that we want to work with everyone for peace everywhere.'' Sumit Ganguly, a South Asia scholar at Indiana University described the statement as ''unexceptional and anodyne'' and rejected the idea that it was a throwback to the Clinton presidency, when, soon after the 1998 nuclear tests in the region, the then president invested Beijing with a oversight role in South Asia, provoking much anger in New Delhi.

Soon after Obama’s remark about China’s salience in South Asia (which incidentally were not mentioned by President Hu, who spoke first, and were not noted at all in the U.S media) was reported in the Indian media though, a state department spokesman remarked that since President Obama will have just gotten back from China by the time Prime Minister Singh arrives here, ''he will share some of his impressions and thoughts about his visit to China as well.''

Whether this emollient will truly be applied and whether it is enough to pacify the more tetchy and trenchant China watchers in India remains to be seen, but for now there is a sense in the diplomatic community that while India is a key player in the G-20, the U.S and China are heading towards a G-2 club. That, says Ganguly, is not something that should upset New Delhi given the enormous financial clout Beijing enjoys vis-a-vis Washington. With $ 800 billion in US treasury bonds, China is Washington's biggest creditor, and is seen as having a virtual stranglehold on the US economy (although it could work both ways).

''China’s dramatic rise along economic, diplomatic and commercial axes and the US dependence on the PRC necessitates a robust US-PRC relationship,'' Ganguly said. ''if that upsets India then Indians need to start putting their own economic, political and security houses in order rather than fretting about a growing US-PRC relationship.'' That apparently is one of the objectives of Singh's visit to the US.

India rules out third party role in ties with Pak

November 18, 2009 17:33 IST

India's [ Images ] irritation at the reference to Indo-Pak ties in the joint communiqué issued by United States President Barack Obama [ Images ] and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao was apparent from an official statement issued on Wednesday making it clear that a third party role was not necessary.

Sticking to its stand that no 'meaningful dialogue' can take place unless there was a terror-free environment, Union External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said, "The government of India is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a peaceful bilateral dialogue in accordance with the Simla Agreement. A third country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary. We also believe that a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can take place only in an environment free from terror or the threat of terror."

The reaction came a day after both Obama and Hu voiced support for the improvement in Indo-Pak ties and their readiness to promote peace and stability in the region, listing the situation in South Asia among regional and global challenges.

The two countries 'support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan,' and are ready to 'strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region,' said the joint statement, issued at the conclusion of the talks between the two leaders.

US ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer, meanwhile, described as a 'positive statement' the mention of Indo-Pakistan relations in the US-China joint statement.
"I have not really taken a close look at the joint statement at this point. The two countries (US and China) have said they would work for a more stable and peaceful relationship between the countries in South Asia. I think that is a very positive statement to make," he said.

Roemer said this at a press conference here when his attention was drawn to the discomfort in India over the mention of its relationship with Pakistan in the US-China joint statement. The envoy went on to add that the US is 'trying to make sure there is a prosperous and peaceful rise of China' and 'at the same time have historic close relations between the United States and India.'

© Copyright 2009 PTI. All rights reserved.

From Kabul to Kashmir

By Selig S. Harrison NEWSWEEK
Published Nov 13, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Nov 23, 2009>1=43002

By all rights, the United States and India should be bound together by the shared tragedies of 9/11 and last year's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. India's size, economic-growth trajectory, and rising power as a stable, secular democracy in a dangerous part of the world ought to make it a key U.S. partner. Instead, Washington's single-minded focus on India's much smaller unstable neighbor, Pakistan, in carrying out the war on terror has increasingly strained its relations with New Delhi. To India's dismay, the U.S. has looked the other way while much of the $10.5 billion in military hardware and cash subsidies provided to the Pakistan Army for use against the Taliban has been diverted to building up arms capabilities targeted at India. Equally disturbing is that Washington has given only perfunctory support to India in pushing Pakistan to prosecute the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

The principal argument advanced to justify this focus is that the U.S. needs the cooperation of Pakistani generals to counter Al -Qaeda and the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. But, far from helping, Islamabad is giving covert aid to the Taliban. It also has yet to provide the intelligence needed to root out Al Qaeda—a point driven home in October when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referring to Al Qaeda, told an audience in Pakistan that it was "hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to."

To complicate matters further, many Pakistani leaders now argue that their country needs a strong Taliban in Afghanistan to offset the rising Indian influence there. The price for cutting its ties with the Taliban, Islamabad says, is a "grand bargain" in which India lowers its profile in Kabul and settles the Kashmir issue. This position is of a piece with the longstanding desire in Islamabad to make Afghanistan a satellite state that will provide "defense in depth" against New Delhi. In an interview with me in 1988, Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq declared that "we have earned the right as a frontline state against the Russians to have a friendly regime in Kabul, a regime to our liking." Two decades later, a Pakistani general told the visiting U.S. Director of Intelligence Mike McConnell that "we must support the Taliban so that there is a government friendly to Pakistan in Kabul. Otherwise, India will reign." More recently, the spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces criticized the "overinvolvement of Indians in Afghanistan," specifically warning against any Indian aid in training the Afghan Army.

Most U.S. officials have ignored Pakistan's attack on the Indian presence in Kabul. But Gen. Stanley McChrystal echoed the Pakistani refrain in his assessment of the prospects in Afghanistan, stating that "increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India." This was a bombshell in New Delhi, and the Obama administration should make clear that it is not opposed to more Indian influence in Kabul. The U.S. goal should be a sovereign Afghanistan, not the creation of an anti-Indian Pakistani satellite state. To this end, the U.S. and NATO should encourage India and other regional powers to play a greater role in shaping Afghanistan's future and in setting the terms for a gradual U.S.-NATO withdrawal. So far, Indian assistance to Kabul has consisted of just $1.2 billion in economic aid and police training, but it could offer a valuable addition to the currently ineffectual U.S.-NATO effort to train the Afghan Army.

As President Obama has observed, the Kashmir issue "is obviously a tar pit, diplomatically." That is because it is not a territorial issue. In Indian eyes, the retention of a Muslim-majority Kashmir is necessary to preserve India's character as a secular state in which 160 million Muslims coexist uneasily with a Hindu majority. By the same token, Pakistan gives Kashmir top priority to vindicate its creation as an Islamic state.

To be sure, significant progress was made during former president Pervez Musharraf's regime in exploring the terms for a thaw in Kashmir. But no proposal for a "grand bargain" would have any chance of success unless Islamabad prosecutes the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and destroys the Islamist paramilitary forces that threaten India and Pakistan. This is extremely unlikely, given the grip of Islamist sympathizers on the Pakistan Army. So while the U.S. should continue to give large-scale development aid to Pakistan, the focus of its attention in South Asia should shift to India—one of the few bright spots on the U.S. global horizon.

Harrison is director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy and a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Harrison is director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy and a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
© 2009


From 20 to 30 November 2009, design will once again take centrestage in Singapore. The third Singapore Design Festival will continue to be a meeting place for designers, design thought leaders and design clients of the world to establish how design can make a difference to improve lives and create possibilities for tomorrow

Highlights of the 2009 Festival include:

9 Design2050 studios, 4 keynote speakers and Congress facilitators will come together in an engaging interactive forum to propose solutions to many of today’s critical issues and challenges.

An inspiring exhibition that presents design in 5 categories - Body, Home, Work, Play and Community, to address concerns relevant to people of all ages from all walks of life.

A curated showcase of the best collection of portfolios by young Singaporean or Singapore-based designers across all design disciplines; reflecting the progression and ambitions of Singapore design.

Design is constantly carrying us towards the future. As we surf the web from sleek mobile phone handsets or tap away at a computer while we’re out enjoying coffee, we forget how recent these innovations were. The simple truth is that good design integrates seamlessly with its surroundings.

What will be the next innovation to quietly revolutionise our lives? At the Singapore Design Festival 2009, that’s exactly the question we’re asking. If so much has changed recently, surely the possibilities for the future must be more varied, wide ranging and eclectic.

Join us and discover how design can improve our quality of life, change business paradigms or contribute to sustainable cities of tomorrow. The only limit to what we can explore is our mind.

Imagine buildings you could eat, or an electric scooter that fits in your bag. Innovation doesn’t come from those who say “It can’t be done.” The great leaps in design are made by those who have the courage to ask “Why not?”.



Extracts from my article at

The Obama Administration is showing signs of greater sensitivity to the concerns and interests of China than those of India. Reliable reports indicate that it is veering towards a policy of neutrality on the issue of Arunachal Pradesh, which has been a major bone of contention between India and China. It is believed to be dragging its feet on the implementation of the understanding reached between the preceding Bush Administration and the Govt. of India for the US Air Force to undertake searches in Arunachal Pradesh territory for US Air Force personnel, who were missing in action during the Second World War.

It is learnt that the formats of the joint exercices between the three wings of the Armed Forces of the two countries, which were agreed upon during the Bush Administration, are being reviewed in order to delete elements, which could cause concern to not only China, but also Pakistan--- such as joint exercises between the two armies in the Siachen area to enable US Army personnel to get exposed to high altitude conditions, joint naval exercises in the seas to the east of India etc.

While the Obama Administration wants to go ahead with the over-all format of the strategic relationship with India as laid down by the Bush Administration, it wants to have a second look at those aspects, which could cause concern to China.

There was one joint naval exercise off Japan involving ships of the navies of India, the US and Japan after Obama assumed office. Such exercises are likely to be avoided in future.

There is also a possibility of the US abstaining when the specific proposal for assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a flood control project in Arunachal Pradesh comes up for approval before the ADB.The ADB's Board of Governors had earlier this year, after Obama came to office, approved a basket of projects proposed by India despite opposition ftrom China. It is learnt that ADB officials have been saying that approval for the package as a whole did not mean approval of each individual item in the package and that each individual item has to be approved separately. Efforts are being made to scuttle ADB support for the individual proposal relating to Arunachal Pradesh.

The Obama Administration seems to be thinking that all that it needs to do to humour India and soften the blow due to its steady reversal of the pro-India policies initiated by the Bush Administration is to accord the honours of a State visit to Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh in November and play up the ceremonial honours accorded to him. In the last few days, officials of the US State Department have been briefing the media about the kind of honours which will be accorded to Dr.Manmohan Singh when he visits Washington. These are meant to show that there has been no change in the US policies towards India under the Obama Administration. The reality is that on every matter, which is of concern to India, greater attention is being paid to China's sensitivities and concerns.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institite For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )