May 17, 2012

Welcome to the New World Disorder

The G-8 is not about to save the world. It's time the United States started planning for the G-Zero.

As leaders of the G-8 industrialized countries gather at Camp David later this week, there will be much talk of global leadership -- and of its importance for our crisis-prone world. In a world where so many challenges transcend borders -- threats to the stability of the global economy, climate change, cyberconflict, terrorism, and risks to reliable supplies of food and water, to name just a few -- the need for international cooperation has never been greater. Yet, cooperation depends on leadership. Only global leaders have the leverage to coordinate multinational responses to transnational problems, as well as the wealth and power to persuade other governments to take actions they would not otherwise take. They provide services no one else will pay for and resources that others cannot afford. On issue after issue, leaders set the agenda.

Unfortunately, for the first time in seven decades, the world lacks leadership. In the United States, mounting federal debt, a feeble recovery from the Great Recession, and Washington's political paralysis have stoked fears that America can no longer afford its postwar leadership role. Across the Atlantic, a debt crisis has shaken confidence in Europe, its institutions, and its future. In Japan, reconstruction following 2011's triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear fallout has proved much easier than recovery from two decades of political and economic malaise, a paralysis that has left Japan's government less willing and able to contribute to international projects where others do the heavy lifting.

A generation ago, these were the world's powerhouses. With Canada, they made up the G-7 -- the group of free market democracies that powered the global economy forward. Today, they are struggling to find their footing.

Yet the world's most promising emerging states are not ready to fill this vacuum. China's leaders are focused as never before on foreign-policy plans with important implications for the next stage of their country's domestic development. However, like their counterparts in Brazil, India, and Russia, they are far too preoccupied with complex challenges at home to accept the risks and burdens that come with assuming a much larger share of international leadership.

Nor are multinational institutions likely to step into the breach. The expanded group of leading powers known as the G-20 includes members with such a broad divergence of economic and political values that it can only produce coherent, substantive solutions for problems that have already become crises -- and only then when each of its most powerful members is threatened at the same moment. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund do not have the political or financial leverage they once did, and rivalries within the U.N. Security Council have rarely allowed for purposeful cooperation. In short, international politics and the global economy have entered a period of transition, one that I call a "G-Zero" order. Today, there is no single power, or alliance of powers, capable of providing consistent international leadership.
Yet, nature abhors a vacuum, and this period of transition cannot last indefinitely. Governments will not accept new costs and risks until they believe they have to -- and until they become convinced that others will not do it for them. Just as it took World War II to generate a new international financial order at the Bretton Woods conference, lifting the United States to superpower status, it will most likely take some form of calamity, or the credible fear that one is imminent, to give birth to a new uncertain global order.

But what comes next, and who will lead this new world?

The answers to two crucial questions will define the post-G-Zero balance of power. First, will the problems generated by the leadership vacuum force the United States and China to act as partners, or will those problems push them toward confrontation? No political and commercial relationship is more important for 21st-century peace and prosperity than relations between Washington and Beijing. If U.S. companies continue to earn large profits inside China, they will have a stake in China's success and in stable relations with Beijing -- pressing the White House and U.S. lawmakers to avoid unnecessary friction. On the other hand, if Chinese companies use their growing influence within China's bureaucracy to craft new rules that sharply tip the competitive playing field in their direction, U.S. companies will push the two governments toward more aggressive political competition.

There are dozens such scenarios that could encourage collaboration or stoke hostility between the world's two premier powers. A shock that sends oil prices sharply higher might give U.S. and Chinese officials a powerful common interest in reducing their dependence on hydrocarbon energy, for example, but a major cyberattack launched by one side against the other might provoke a politically reckless response.

The second crucial question: Will China and the United States dominate geopolitics, or will global power instead be broadly divided among several established and emerging states? If the European Union's core and peripheral economies can harmonize policies and re-establish confidence in the eurozone, Europe will remain a force to be reckoned with. If Japan can reinvigorate growth and develop a political system that inspires greater public confidence, perhaps it would become a more active and assertive international actor. If India can further liberalize its economy and manage an accelerating flow of migrants from the countryside into its cities, it can counterbalance China's influence in Asia. If Brazil's government can keep inflation in check and wisely manage development of the country's natural wealth, this Latin American power can greatly expand its influence. If Turkey can avoid a showdown that pits the ruling Justice and Development Party against
 determined secularists within the business, media, and military elite, its government too can become a formidable regional power broker. And so on.
By placing U.S.-Chinese relations along one axis of a graph and the relative strength of other countries along the other, we can map the four likeliest post-G-Zero scenarios:

This grid gives us four distinct quadrants. If the United States and China become by far the world's most powerful states and the G-Zero phenomenon broadly aligns their interests, we would likely see the emergence of an order in which Washington and Beijing find benefit in burden-sharing. Let's call this scenario the G-2. If a generally cooperative United States and China share leadership with other strong states, we might see a kind of concert of nations that would bring about real cooperation within a more robust G-20-like institution.

If the United States and China emerge far stronger than any conceivable coalition of other states and the G-Zero drives them toward conflict, superpower rivalry would force other governments to choose sides or struggle to remain outside either orbit. Let's call this scenario Cold War 2.0. But if Washington and Beijing find themselves at odds in a world with other strong states, global power would fragment into a "world of regions" in which local heavyweights try to establish dominance within their respective neighborhoods.

These scenarios represent extremes, of course, and the future will provide some combination of at least two of these scenarios. The options break down like this:
Let's look more closely at these four broad scenarios:

The G-2
Economist C. Fred Bergsten was the first to popularize the term G-2 to symbolize a U.S.-Chinese strategic partnership. In his 2005 book, The United States and the World Economy, he argued that none of the world's most pressing challenges could be effectively addressed without cooperation from Washington and Beijing. After all, the United States and China are, respectively, the leading established and emerging markets, the world's two largest economies, the largest trading nations, and the largest polluters. China is the world's largest creditor state, and the United States has become the world's largest debtor state. It is impossible to rebalance the world economy, reinvigorate global trade talks, take on climate change, and manage other transnational problems unless Washington and Beijing share plans, costs, and risks.
A U.S.-Chinese partnership need not be institutionalized. On security issues ranging from Iran and North Korea to relations between Indians and Pakistanis and between Israelis and Palestinians, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has proposed an "informal G-2" -- a partnership based in the complex interdependence that binds the two countries' futures.

But what would it take for Washington and Beijing to form such a partnership?
First, Beijing would have to decide that it can afford it. That is not simply a matter of continuing China's impressive economic expansion. It requires a broad, prosperous, and self-confident middle class that owns a lasting stake in the success of its government. Legitimacy at home is essential for leadership abroad. China would also have to create sustainable balance in its economy, by shifting its reliance for growth from heavy dependence on exports toward greater consumption at home -- but without "decoupling" from Western consumers to a degree that isolates China from the world's other largest economies. The country's next generation of leaders would have to see cooperation with Washington as a cost-effective way to invest in a global system that works to China's advantage.
Paradoxically, a G-2 would require that Chinese policymakers avoid a costly military expansion that diverts resources away from the need to rebalance its economy and create a durable social safety net for an aging population. Thus, Beijing would have to rely on U.S. military power to provide most global public goods outside Asia, necessitating a degree of bilateral trust that does not yet exist. On the American side, the U.S. economy would have to recover enough of its vitality to persuade taxpayers that the United States can again afford to invest in a more ambitions foreign policy. U.S. lawmakers would also have to ensure that an economic rebalancing between the two countries that plainly favors China -- sharply narrowing the wealth gap between the two countries -- does not breed U.S. public hostility toward Beijing. But combine enough common threats (from North Korea to cyberattacks to oil prices), and partnership on security issues might become a

A G-2 world, however, requires no other power or alliance of powers having the political and economic muscle to compete with the United States or China. In this scenario, the European Union is divided from within or stumbles toward to a less dynamic future, Japan's government cannot fully reinvigorate its economy, and emerging powers like India, Brazil, Turkey, and others fail to emerge fully enough to play a strong independent role on the international stage. In this scenario, U.S.-Chinese leadership would be indispensable.

There are many reasons why a G-2 world remains unlikely. First, there is no historical precedent for a durable multidimensional partnership between the world's two most powerful states, particularly when they have such different political and economic systems. Unless events lead China toward fundamental political reform and away from the state dominance of markets, it will be hard for any event to align the two countries' interests for very long. Nor is there any guarantee that China's leadership would ever feel confident enough in the country's ability to accept such a role. Many people have called for a G-2 in recent years, but none of them are Chinese. The volatile G-Zero era is unlikely to change that. In addition, it's highly unlikely that both the United States and China will emerge from the G-Zero period with a new self-confidence -- especially given just how ambitious China's reform plans are and an increasingly insecure American middle class.
Further, it is hard to imagine that China and America will be the only two countries to emerge from the G-Zero with their ambitions intact. Whatever happens to the eurozone, Europe's skilled workforce and its tradition of innovation bolster the odds that it will show long-term resilience. Japan, too, has suffered many setbacks, but it is still the world's third-largest economy. Nor is there any reason to believe that growth in leading emerging states will be stunted to an extent that robs them of their steadily increasing influence. Their growth may slow, but only a truly global disaster would return us to a bipolar world.

A Concert of Nations

If there are indeed multiple centers of power a decade from now, imagine a scenario in which the global power vacuum generates a crisis, or series of crises, so damaging that established and emerging powers are virtually forced to collaborate, compromise, and share the risks and burdens of leadership. This is a G-20 order that actually works, a kind of "concert of nations" -- a structure similar to the so-called Concert of Europe that aligned Britain, the Russian Empire, Austria, Prussia, and later France in a bid to restore and maintain Europe's peace following the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. This institutionalized balance of power brought stability in Europe from the early 19th century until the outbreak of World War I.

But this scenario is especially unlikely to develop because there are so few conceivable circumstances that could create that degree of widespread fear and maintain it for very long. Imagine a meltdown in European financial markets that develops much further and lasts much longer than America's "Lehman moment." Spain and Italy -- countries too large to bail out -- lose investor confidence. German and French banks with exposure to bad loans in these countries go under. The eurozone collapses, and Europe fragments. The United States and China lose a crucial trade partner and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that it helps create.
Yet it is hard to imagine that lasting cooperation would emerge from such destruction. As with the 2008 financial crisis, the effects of even a much greater shock to the system would last longer in some places than others, and the temptation to find advantage in the weakness of others, rather than to partner to buttress international trade, might prove too great for some to resist.

Let's imagine an even more global problem: Perhaps rising global demand for grain begins to far outstrip supply, and a series of weather-related disasters sends food prices soaring across South and Southeast Asia, North Africa, and much of Latin America and the former Soviet Union. Protests in Russia provoke a brutal state response that strips the government of any vestige of popularity. Uprisings in India swell across state borders. Venezuela, Thailand, and Egypt see surges of unrest. Violence grips China. But here again, food shocks will always hit emerging powers and the developing world much harder than the United States, Europe, and Japan, because people in the developed world spend a far smaller percentage of their income on staple foods. Once again, even this scenario doesn't hit everyone at once, or equally -- and history demonstrates that food fights are as likely to produce finger-pointing as cooperation.

In the end, it is hard to imagine a crisis large enough to force lasting cooperation from established and emerging powers, and the complexity of the threats facing the foreign ministers of 19th-century Europe pale beside those of the G-Zero era.

Cold War 2.0

If the G-Zero era pushes China and the United States toward more direct forms of conflict, and if Washington and Beijing are left with much more economic, political, and military power than any other country or bloc of countries, it could generate a new kind of Cold War. This war, however, is less likely to be waged with military hardware because, thanks to global economic interdependence, conflict with economic weapons or cyberespionage comes with much lower costs than traditional warfare for those who provoke it. Its weapons will be currency valuation strategies, restrictions on market access and foreign direct investment, or cyberattacks and counterstrikes designed to disrupt information flows or disable critical infrastructure. No one can know who would hold the advantage in such a contest -- not even the U.S. and Chinese strategists who might stumble into it.

The origins of this potential conflict are not difficult to trace. Earlier stages of China's development provided U.S. companies and consumers with access to Chinese markets, cheap labor, and inexpensive consumer products. Chinese manufacturers gained access to the American middle class and the advanced technology that only Western companies could provide. But the West's economic woes have added urgency to Chinese plans to reduce dependence on exports to U.S. and European consumers in favor of greater domestic demand for Chinese products.

In addition, a growing number of increasingly self-confident Chinese companies now rely on state-sponsored protection from foreign competition. They can use political connections to rewrite commercial rules and regulations in their own favor and use local print, broadcast, and online media to manipulate Chinese public opinion of U.S. companies. In short, China is already becoming less dependent on American economic strength, and U.S. companies will discover that long-term bets on China might not pay off.

As the commercial ties that have encouraged policymakers on both sides to look beyond political and ideological differences fray, the two countries will compete much more aggressively for influence and commerce all over the world. Long-simmering tensions over the value of China's currency, the Chinese government's inability or unwillingness to protect foreign-owned intellectual property, and U.S. criticism of China's human rights record are increasingly likely to boil over.
Cold War 2.0 would be much more dangerous than the first one. Yes, tomorrow's Washington and Beijing are no more likely than yesterday's Washington and Moscow to wage nuclear war. The destructive power of a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile and the ease of figuring out where it came from continue to make a nuclear exchange extremely unlikely. But cyberattacks in particular render that stability obsolete because they need not kill millions to inflict devastating damage and their origin can be hidden. This is a weapon that has already been used more than once. 

Yet, there is another important difference that makes an especially destructive U.S.-Chinese conflict less likely. During the U.S.-Soviet conflict, the Iron Curtain was not simply the wall that kept invaders out and prisoners in. It was a buffer between the capitalist and communist worlds. The Soviet Union was an important energy supplier for Europe, but East-West trade ties were extremely limited. It was much easier for one side to inflict harm on the other without damaging its own interests.
Today's U.S.-China relations, on the other hand, rest on some degree of interdependence -- a "mutually assured economic destruction" -- even if China succeeds in reducing its dependence on U.S. consumer purchasing power. The United States will need China to help finance U.S. debt for years to come, and China must be sure that America can and will pay its debts -- and that the currency it uses will be worth more than the paper it is printed on. This scenario also assumes the relative weakness of the world's other states, which is unlikely for the reasons cited above. This order is more likely to emerge than either the G-2 or Concert of Nations scenarios, but it is not the most likely post-G-Zero outcome.

World of Regions

The fourth scenario is one in which regional leaders provide some public goods within their respective spheres of influence, but political elites in these countries ignore calls for multilateral cooperation that demands sacrifice for the global good. The United States remains the world's only military superpower, but the growing economic muscle and technological sophistication of rising powers limit the importance of this advantage. The growth of regional powers is, of course, a worldwide phenomenon, but one that develops differently in each part of the world. This is the most likely of the post-G-Zero scenarios because it requires no compromises among powerful states and no multinational leaps of faith on problem-solving, and because it follows along the path the world is already on.

Each region would have its unique power structure. In Europe, a loss of confidence in the creditworthiness of several European countries leaves reserve-rich Germany in an enhanced leadership role -- whether German officials and taxpayers like it or not. Berlin will be crucial to any plan to reform the eurozone, the Schengen agreement on borders, or the European Union itself. And if Germany can persuade European leaders to forge agreements among eurozone member states that combine a new commitment to the single currency with much closer coordination on state spending and tax policies, the continent will emerge as the world's most efficiently run region.
Then there is a less voluntary form of unity imposed by a local heavyweight. If Russia can better diversify its domestic economy, or if oil prices remain high enough to continue to fill Russian coffers with cash, Moscow can build greater political and economic influence across much of the former Soviet Union. A state like Kazakhstan, which enjoys substantial commercial relations with outside powers like China and Germany, can limit its dependence on Russia, but countries like Ukraine and Georgia are much more likely to fall under Russia's shadow.

The two regions most likely to generate conflict in this scenario are the Middle East and Asia. In the former, which has long depended on outsiders to maintain an unstable security equilibrium, the influence of increasingly cost-conscious and risk-averse foreign governments has already begun to diminish. Political earthquakes rumbled through North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, but only in Libya did the United States and NATO actively intervene in a national crisis -- and intervention occurred only from high altitude and following an appeal from other Arab governments. The retreat of outside powers will produce intense competition for leadership among Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and perhaps Egypt -- governments that will have quite different visions of the region's ideal balance of power and influence.

Asia might prove even more volatile. Increased competition for resources and local influence will bring Asia's most powerful states -- China, India, and Japan -- into various forms of conflict. States like Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand are large enough to resist being pulled entirely into another country's orbit. Asia will probably enhance its role as the engine of global growth, but from North Korea to Pakistan, the region has too many potential security emergencies and will prove too large and too complex for a single country to dominate. Compounding the risks, many of China's neighbors are simultaneously trying to deepen commercial ties with Beijing and security ties with Washington -- an unsustainable balance should the United States and China find themselves in conflict.

This scenario would not be without interregional cooperation. Small groups of established and emerging powers would work together on particular issues of common interest. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- the so-called BRICS states -- would likely build on trade and investment ties in some areas and increase their weight within lending institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Russia and China would continue to use organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to bolster their local influence and keep the United States from deepening ties with other members. Developing states in Latin America and Africa, led by Brazil and South Africa, would further develop "south-south" political and commercial relations. The United States, Europe, and China would continue to depend on the trade relationships that sustain their economies.

But despite the provision of public goods by would-be neighborhood hegemons, this more fragmented international order will ensure that some G-Zero-related transnational problems cannot be fully addressed.


Given the various forms of turmoil that the G-Zero vacuum of leadership is likely to create, we must also consider a wild-card scenario, one that threatens a different kind of fragmentation of the global order. What if the G-Zero creates the kinds of problems that discredit governments, cripple their credibility, and move citizens of worst-affected countries to look for alternatives of governance?

Take China today, which is in need of ambitious long-term economic and social reforms; its government will be undertaking these changes just as the G-Zero supplies the system with unexpected shocks. If Beijing cannot manage the resulting social unrest, if it can't cope with a rising tide of environmental disasters, if rising labor costs persuade enough companies to relocate operations to neighboring economies, if a more serious market meltdown inside Europe and the United States puts tens of millions of Chinese out of work, if public disgust with corruption floods the Internet, if state attempts to quell large-scale demonstrations meet resistance coordinated via modern tools of communication, we might see a fundamental change in how China is actually governed. It might not take state collapse or a revolution to bring about this change. If local officials come to believe that they can ignore Beijing's orders, China's central government could remain too
 preoccupied with domestic challenges to play an important international role. 

There's a nightmare scenario for Europe, too. If debt burdens deprive key European governments of an even greater outlay of resources, they may find themselves without the financial muscle to create and enforce policy. Local officials might begin to usurp much of their authority, leading to fragmentation of power within states like Italy and France. The breakdown could then be exacerbated by the re-emergence of separatist movements in Britain, Belgium, and Spain.
What if the trend then spreads to regions where borders have historically been drawn by outsiders? Local governments in the Caucasus and Central Asia cite Kosovo as a precedent for small, ethnically based states to declare independence. Former European colonies in Africa, including large, resource-rich states like Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, face tremendous stresses from within as local governments insist on greater control over natural wealth drawn from within "their" territories.

Today, Russia has a strong central government, but one that depends largely on one man, Vladimir Putin, for its legitimacy. It is a country that encompasses one-seventh of the Earth's land surface, 89 regions, 170 ethnic groups, and dozens of minority languages -- in other words, it is always at risk of fragmentation. The history of the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, is one of shifting borders. If its oil and natural gas become a lot less valuable before the Russian government and its business community can better diversify the country's economy, the Russian government may one day find itself with too many internal threats to dominate its neighbors.
Thus, if the leaderless G-Zero-era in international politics generates global problems that metastasize into a thousand local emergencies, large parts of important countries could go ungoverned -- or become ungovernable. And that result would ensure that, whatever the global balance of power, the world's most powerful states would all find themselves fully occupied with management of internal crises.

Call this scenario the G-Subzero, where weakened leadership and a fragmentation of power inside individual countries create G-Zero conditions within some of the world's largest economies. After all, as much as some folks love to hate government, this scenario is (by far) the ugliest of them all.          

STRATFOR: Terrorism and the Exceptional Individual


May 17, 2012 | 0858 GMT 

By Scott Stewart
There has been a lot of chatter in intelligence and academic circles about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri and his value to AQAP. The disclosure last week of a thwarted AQAP plot to attack U.S. airliners using an improved version of an "underwear bomb" used in the December 2009 attempted attack aboard a commercial airplane and the disclosure of the U.S. government's easing of the rules of engagement for unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Yemen played into these discussions. People are debating how al-Asiri's death would affect the organization. A similar debate undoubtedly will erupt if AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi is captured or killed.  
AQAP has claimed that al-Asiri trained others in bombmaking, and the claim makes sense. Furthermore, other AQAP members have received training in constructing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) while training and fighting in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. This means that al-Asiri is not the only person within the group who can construct an IED. However, he has demonstrated creativity and imagination. His devices consistently have been able to circumvent existing security measures, even if they have not always functioned as intended. We believe this ingenuity and imagination make al-Asiri not merely a bombmaker, but an exceptional bombmaker.
Likewise, al-Wahayshi is one of hundreds -- if not thousands -- of men currently associated with AQAP. He has several deputies and numerous tactical field commanders in various parts of Yemen. Jihadists have had a presence in Yemen for decades, and after the collapse of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, numerous Saudi migrants fleeing the Saudi government augmented this presence. However, al-Wahayshi played a singular role in pulling these disparate jihadist elements together to form a unified and cohesive militant organization that has been involved not only in several transnational terrorist attacks but also in fighting an insurgency that has succeeded in capturing and controlling large areas of territory. He is an exceptional leader.
Individuals like al-Asiri and al-Wahayshi play critical roles in militant groups. History has shown that the loss of exceptional individuals such as these makes a big difference in efforts to defeat such organizations.
Exceptional Individuals
One of Stratfor's core geopolitical tenets is that at the strategic level, geography is critical to shaping the limits of what is possible -- and impossible -- for states and nations to achieve in the long run. Quite simply, historically, the strategic political and economic dynamics created by geography are far more significant than the individual leader or personality, no matter how brilliant. For example, in the U.S. Civil War, Robert E. Lee was a shrewd general with a staff of exceptional military officers. However, geographic and economic reality meant that the North was bound to win the civil war despite the astuteness and abilities of Lee and his staff.
But as the size of an organization and the period of time under consideration shrink, geopolitics is little more than a rough guide. At the tactical level, intelligence takes over from geopolitics, and individuals' abilities become far more important in influencing smaller events and trends within the greater geopolitical flow. This is the level where exceptional military commanders can win battles through courage and brilliance, where exceptional businessmen can revolutionize the way business is done through innovative new products or ways of selling those products and where the exceptional individuals can execute terrorist tradecraft in a way that allows them to kill scores or even hundreds of victims.
Leadership is important in any type of organization, but it is especially important in entrepreneurial organizations, which are fraught with risk and require unique vision, innovation and initiative. For example, hundreds of men founded automobile companies in the early 1900s, but Henry Ford was an exceptional individual because of his vision to make automobiles a widely available mass-produced commodity rather than just a toy for the rich. In computer technology, Steve Jobs was exceptional for his ability to design devices with an aesthetic form that appealed to consumers, and Michael Dell was exceptional for his vision of bypassing traditional sales channels and selling computers directly to customers.  
These same leadership characteristics of vision, daring, innovation and initiative are evident in the exceptional individuals who have excelled in the development and application of terrorist tradecraft. Some examples of exceptional individuals in the terrorism realm are Ali Hassan Salameh, the operations chief of Black September, who not only revolutionized the form that terrorist organizations take by instituting the use of independent, clandestine cells, but also was a visionary in designing theatrical attacks intended for international media consumption. Some have called Palestinian militant leader Abu Ibrahim the "grandfather of all bombmakers" for his innovative IED designs during his time with Black September, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and his own group, the 15 May Organization. Ibrahim was known for creating sophisticated devices that used plastic explosives and a type of electronic timer called an "e-cell" that could be set for an extended delay. Another terrorism innovator was Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyeh, who helped pioneer the use of large suicide truck bombs to attack hardened targets, such as military barracks and embassies.
In the jihadist realm, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being tried by a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was such an individual. Not only did Mohammed mastermind the 9/11 attacks for al Qaeda in which large hijacked aircraft were transformed into guided missiles, but he also was the operational planner behind the coordinated attacks against two U.S. embassies in August 1998 and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Mohammed's other innovations included the idea to use modular IEDs concealed in baby dolls to attack 10 aircraft in a coordinated attack (Operation Bojinka) and the shoe bomb plot. Mohammed's video beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl in February 2002 started a grisly trend that was followed not only by jihadists in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia but also by combatants in Mexico's drug war.
One of the places where exceptional individuals have been most evident in the terrorist realm is in leadership roles. Although on the surface it might seem like a simple task to find a leader for a militant group, in practice, effective militant leaders are hard to come by. This is because militant leadership requires a rather broad skill set. In addition to personal attributes such as ruthlessness, aggressiveness and fearlessness, militant leaders also must be charismatic, intuitive, clever and inspiring. This last attribute is especially important in an organization that seeks to recruit operatives to conduct suicide attacks. Additionally, an effective militant leader must be able to recruit and train operatives, enforce operational security, raise funds, plan operations and methodically execute the plan while avoiding the security forces that are constantly hunting down the militants.
The trajectory of al Qaeda's franchise in Saudi Arabia is a striking illustration of the importance of leadership to a militant organization. Under the leadership of Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the Saudi al Qaeda franchise was extremely active in 2003 and 2004. It carried out a number of high-profile attacks inside Saudi Arabia and put everyone there, from the Saudi monarchy to multinational oil companies, in a general state of panic. With bombings, ambushes and beheadings, it seemed as if Saudi Arabia was on its way to becoming the next Iraq. However, after the June 2004 death of al-Muqrin, the organization began floundering. The succession of leaders appointed to replace al-Muqrin lacked his operational savvy, and each one proved ineffective at best. (Saudi security forces quickly killed several of them.) Following the unsuccessful February 2006 attack against the oil facility at Abqaiq, the group atrophied further, succeeding in carrying out only one more attack -- an amateurish small-arms assault in February 2007 against a group of French tourists.
The disorganized remaining jihadists in Saudi Arabia ultimately grew frustrated at their inability to operate on their own. Many of them traveled to places such as Iraq or Pakistan to train and fight. In January 2009, many of the militants who remained in the Arabian Peninsula joined with al Qaeda's franchise in Yemen to form a new group -- AQAP -- under the leadership of al-Wahayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen who served under Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan before being arrested in Iran. An extradition deal between the Yemeni and Iranian governments returned al-Wahayshi to Yemen in 2003. He subsequently escaped from a high-security prison outside Sanaa in 2006.
Al Qaeda in Yemen's operational capability improved under al-Wahayshi's leadership, and its operational tempo increased (although those operations were not terribly effective). Considering this momentum, it is not surprising that the frustrated members of the all-but-defunct Saudi franchise agreed to swear loyalty to al-Wahayshi and join his new umbrella group, AQAP. The first widely recognized product of this merger was the attempted assassination of Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Aug. 28, 2009, using a device designed by al-Asiri and carried by his brother, Abdullah al-Asiri.
As with the Saudi group, the fortunes of other al Qaeda regional franchises have risen or fallen based on the ability of the franchise's leadership. In Indonesia, for example, following the arrests and killings of several top jihadist commanders, the capabilities of the regional jihadist franchise there were deeply degraded. Al Qaeda announced with great fanfare in August 2006 that a splinter of the Egyptian jihadist group Gamaah al-Islamiyah had become al Qaeda's franchise in Egypt, and in November 2007 al Qaeda announced that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group had become a regional franchise. But neither of these franchises ever really began operations. While a great degree of the groups' ineffectiveness could have resulted from the oppressive natures of the Egyptian and Libyan governments -- and those governments' aggressive efforts to control the new al Qaeda franchises -- Stratfor believes the groups' failures also stem in large part from their lack of effective, dynamic leadership. 
Arms Race
Leadership is not the only factor that influences a militant group's ability to carry out terrorist attacks. Groups planning to conduct bombing attacks also require a proficient bombmaker, and an innovative bombmaker like Abu Ibrahim or Hamas' Yahya Ayyash can greatly expand a group's operational reach and effectiveness. This is especially true for groups hoping to conduct attacks in the United States and Europe.
As outlined in last week's Security Weekly, those planning terrorist attacks against aircraft have been in a continual arms race with airline security measures. Every time security is changed to adapt to a particular threat, whether it be 9/11-style hijackings, shoe bombs, liquid bombs or underwear bombs, the terrorist planner must come up with a new attack plan to defeat the enhanced security measures. This is where innovation and imagination become critical. A master bombmaker might be able to show a pupil how to build a simple IED or maybe even something like a shoe bomb. The pupil may even become quite proficient at assembling such devices. But unless the pupil is innovative and imaginative, he will not be able to invent and perfect the next technology needed to stay ahead of security countermeasures.
There is a big difference between a technician and an inventor, and perhaps the best way to illustrate this principle is by drawing a parallel to the music world. A student can learn to play the saxophone, and perhaps even to mimic a jazz recording note for note. But it is quite another thing for that student to develop the ability to improvise a masterful solo like saxophonist John Coltrane could. In music, individuals like Coltrane are rare, and in terrorism, so are exceptional bombmakers -- masters of destruction who can create imaginative and original IEDs capable of defeating security measures.
Following the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP's English-language preacher, we noted that we did not believe his death would have much operational impact on the group due to his role as the group's English-language ideologue. That argument was based upon the fact that al-Wahayshi, al-Asiri and AQAP operational leader Qasim al-Raymi, who were much more responsible for the group's operations, were still alive. However, if the group were to lose an exceptional individual -- such as its dynamic and effective leader, al-Wahayshi, or its imaginative and creative bombmaker, al-Asiri -- the loss would make a significant difference unless the group could find someone equally capable to replace that individual.

Read more: Terrorism and the Exceptional Individual | Stratfor

May 15, 2012

France's Strategy


May 15, 2012 | 0900 GMT

By George Friedman

New political leaders do not invent new national strategies. Rather, they adapt enduring national strategies to the moment. On Tuesday, Francois Hollande will be inaugurated as France's president, and soon after taking the oath of office, he will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. At this moment, the talks are expected to be about austerity and the European Union, but the underlying issue remains constant: France's struggle for a dominant role in European affairs at a time of German ascendance.

Two events shaped modern French strategy. The first, of course, was the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 and the emergence of Britain as the world's dominant naval power and Europe's leading imperial power. This did not eliminate French naval or imperial power, but it profoundly constrained it. France could not afford to challenge Britain any more and had to find a basis for accommodation, ending several centuries of hostility if not distrust.

The second moment came in 1871 when the Prussians defeated France and presided over the unification of German states. After its defeat, France had to accept not only a loss of territory to Germany but also the presence of a substantial, united power on its eastern frontier. From that moment, France's strategic problem was the existence of a unified Germany.

France had substantial military capabilities, perhaps matching and even exceeding that of Germany. However, France's strategy for dealing with Germany was to build a structure of alliances against Germany. First, it allied with Britain, less for its land capabilities than for the fact that Britain's navy could blockade Germany and therefore deter it from going to war. The second ally was Russia, the sheer size of which could threaten Germany with a two-front war if one began. Between its relationships with Britain and Russia, France felt it had dealt with its strategic problem.

This was not altogether correct. The combination of forces facing Germany convinced Berlin that it had to strike first, eliminating one enemy so that it would not be faced with a two-front war. In both the first and second world wars, Germany attempted to eliminate France first. In World War I it came close, France saving itself only at the Second Battle of the Marne. The Germans surprised the French and perhaps even themselves by withstanding the Russians, the French and the British in a two-front war. With the weakening of Russia, Germany had new units available to throw at the French. The intervention of the United States changed the balance of the war and perhaps saved France.

In World War II, the same configuration of forces was in place and the same decisions were made. This time there was no miracle on the Marne, and France was defeated and occupied. It again was saved by an Anglo-American force that invaded and liberated France, effectively bringing to power the man who, in one of those rare instances in history, actually defined French strategy.

Charles de Gaulle recognized that France was incapable of competing with the United States and the Soviet Union on the global stage. At the same time, he wanted France to retain its ability to act independently of the two major powers if necessary. Part of the motivation was nationalism. Part of it was a distrust of the Americans. The foundation of post-war American and European defense policy was the containment of the Soviet Union. The strategy was predicated on the assumption that, in the event of a Soviet invasion, European forces supported by Americans would hold the Soviets while the United States rushed reinforcements to Europe. As a last resort, the United States had guaranteed that it would use nuclear weapons to block the Soviets.

De Gaulle was not convinced of the American guarantees, in part because he simply didn't see them as rational. The United States had an interest in Europe, but it was not an existential interest. De Gaulle did not believe that an American president would risk a nuclear counterattack on the United States to save Germany or France. It might risk conventional forces, but they may not be enough. De Gaulle believed that if Western Europe simply relied on American hegemony without an independent European force, Europe would ultimately fall to the Soviets. He regarded the American guarantees as a bluff.

This was not because he was pro-Soviet. Quite the contrary, one of his priorities upon taking power in 1945 was blocking the Communists. France had a powerful Communist Party whose members had played an important role in the resistance against the Nazis. De Gaulle thought that a Communist government in France would mean the end of an independent Europe. West Germany, caught between a Communist France supplied with Soviet weapons and the Red Army in the east, would be isolated and helpless. The Soviets would impose hegemony.

For de Gaulle, Soviet or American hegemony was anathema to France's national interests. A Europe under American hegemony might be more benign, but it was also risky because de Gaulle feared that the Americans could not be trusted to come to Europe's aid with sufficient force in a conflict. The American interest was to maintain a balance of power in Europe, as the British had. Like the British in the Napoleonic wars, the Americans would not fully commit to the fight until the Europeans had first bled the Soviets dry. From de Gaulle's point of view, this is what the Americans had done in World War I and again in World War II, invading France in mid-1944 to finish off Nazi Germany. De Gaulle did not blame the United States for this. De Gaulle, above all others, understood national self-interest. But he did not believe that American national self-interest was identical to France's.

Nonetheless, he understood that France by itself could not withstand the Soviets. He also knew that neither the West Germans nor the British would be easily persuaded to create an alliance with France designed to unite Europe into one alliance structure able to defend itself. De Gaulle settled on the next best strategy, which was developing independent military capabilities sufficient to deter a Soviet attack on French territory without coming to the Americans for help. The key was an independent nuclear force able, in de Gaulle's words, to "tear an arm off" if the Russians attacked. Mistrustful of the Americans, he hoped that a French nuclear arsenal would deter the Soviets from moving beyond the Rhine River if they invaded West Germany.

But at the core of de Gaulle's thinking was a deeper idea. Caught between the Americans and the Soviets, with a fragmented Europe in between, half dominated by the Soviets and the other half part of an American-dominated NATO, he saw the fate of France as being in the hands of the two superpowers, and he trusted neither. Nor did he particularly trust the other Europeans, but he was convinced that in order to secure France there had to be a third force in Europe that would limit the power of both Americans and Soviets.

The concept of a European alternative was not rooted solely in de Gaulle's strategic analysis. Establishing deep ties through a security alliance (possibly under NATO) and some sort of economic union was viewed by Europe in general and France in particular as an appealing way to end the cycle of violent competition that had begun in 1871.

De Gaulle supported economic integration as well as an independent European defense capability. But he objected to any idea that would cost France any element of its sovereignty. Treaties signed by sovereign nations could be defined, redefined and if necessary abandoned. Confederation or federation meant a transfer of sovereignty and the loss of decision-making at a national level, the inability to withdraw from the group and the inability of the whole to expel a part.

De Gaulle objected to NATO's structure because it effectively limited France's sovereignty. NATO's Military Committee was effectively in command of the military forces of the constituent nations, and at a time of war, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe -- always an American -- would automatically take command. De Gaulle did not object to the principle of NATO in general, and France remained a member, but he could not accept that French troops were automatically tied to a war plan or were automatically under the command of anyone who wasn't French. That decision would have to be made by France when the time came. It could not be assumed.

In this sense, de Gaulle differed from the extreme visions of European integrationists, who saw a United States of Europe eventually forming. Like the British, whom he believed would always pursue their interests regardless of any treaty, he was open to an alliance of sovereign European states, but not to the creation of a federation in which France would be a province.

De Gaulle understood the weakness in what would become the European Union, which was that national interests always dominated. No matter how embedded nations became in a wider system, so long as national leaders were answerable to their people, integration would never work in time of crisis and would compound the crisis by turning it from what it originally concerned into a crisis of mixed sovereignty.

However, de Gaulle also wanted France to play a dominant role in European affairs, and he knew that this could be done only in an alliance with Germany. He was confident -- perhaps mistakenly -- that given the psychological consequences of World War II, France would be the senior partner in this relationship.

The descendants of de Gaulle accept his argument that France has to pursue its own interests, but not his obsession with sovereignty. Or, more precisely, they created a strategy that seemed to flow from de Gaulle's logic. As de Gaulle had said, France alone could not hope to match the global superpowers. France needed to be allied with other European countries, and above all with Germany. The foundation of this alliance had to be economic and military. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the urgency of the military threat dissolved. France's presidents since the end of the Cold War, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, believed that the Gaullist vision could be achieved solely through economic ties.

It is in this context that Hollande is going to Germany. Although Sarkozy went as a committed ally of Germany, Hollande will not necessarily be predisposed to German solutions for Europe's problems. This is somewhat startling in post-Cold War Franco-German relations, but it is very much what de Gaulle would have accepted. France's economic needs are different from those of Germany. Harmonization agreements where there is no harmony are dangerous and unenforceable. A strong "non" is sometimes needed. The irony is that Hollande is a Socialist and the ideological enemy of Gaullism. But as we said, most presidents do not make strategy but merely shape an existing national strategy for the moment. It would seem to us that Hollande will now begin, very slowly, to play the Gaullist hand.

Read more: France's Strategy | Stratfor

India can offer its services to RESOLVE US-Iran row


May 15, 2012 13:11 IST


New Delhi [ Images ], as the only agent that enjoys trust in all the key capitals, must offer itself as a back-channel interlocutor, says Ajai Shukla


Barely masked by the warm sunshine in Washington is a stormy political mood over Iran's defiant refusal to halt uranium enrichment despite the most far-reaching economic sanctions in recent times.

That failure is being blamed partly on India [ Images ], especially in the United States media, for New Delhi's refusal to terminate oil imports from Iran and its choice to, instead, deepen trade ties with Teheran.

"Delhi is turning out to be the mullahs' last best friend," trumpeted the Wall Street Journal.

With Team Obama's [ Images ] political gaze focused on re-election in November, the White House fears that a pre-emptive military strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities might transform the discourse of the election campaign.

That fear was fanned last Tuesday by the dramatic formation of a national unity government in Israel, when the leftist Kadima Party hopped over from the opposition to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud government.

To American observers, the Israeli polity seems to be closing ranks for a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel had formed a national unity government, in similar fashion, before launching the fateful Six Day War in 1956.

Washington has tried to restrain Israel by arguing that tightening sanctions would bring Iran around. But several countries, including India, make this a difficult argument to sell.

India buys some 350,000 to 400,000 barrels of oil from Teheran every day, since our energy requirements do not allow the tap to be turned off suddenly. Although Iran's share of our oil imports is just 10.4 per cent today, down from 16.5 per cent in 2008, that translates into a billion dollars a month for Teheran.

India, everyone admits, is not alone in importing oil from Iran. Teheran obtains greater support from Beijing [ Images ] and Moscow [ Images ], especially in the United Nations Security Council. But given the media perception that New Delhi must constantly repay the debt of the US-India nuclear agreement, India's oil purchases are portrayed as the unkindest cut of all.

Interestingly, the US' senior leadership does not share this media and think-tank obsession. Washington is displaying sensitivity to Iran's role in the Indian strategic calculus: as an oil supplier; as a gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia; and as an emotional locus for Indian Shia Muslims.

Washington knows that New Delhi does not want a nuclear Iran; India voted against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency twice, in 2005 and 2009. The US is also aware of Iran's unrelenting assault over decades on crucial Indian interests, e.g. the Jammu & Kashmir [ Images ] issue, in bodies like the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

New Delhi has also pointed out that some four million Indians live and work in West Asia. A major regional conflict stemming from an attack on Iran could force India into a major evacuation, far larger than those that were necessary during the two US wars against Iraq (1990-91 and 2003) and during Israel's invasion of Lebanon (2006).

And so Washington, for now, is not reacting to the media drumbeat that an ungrateful New Delhi is siding against Washington on a crucial foreign policy issue, just as it had on Libya and Syria.

This reflects intensified conversations between New Delhi and Washington, and a growing maturity in the relationship. New Delhi has been understanding of America's engagement and even arms supplies to Pakistan -- surely a key Indian foreign policy concern -- and now the US is accommodating India's compulsions on Iran.

Their strategic objectives converge: neither likes the idea of Teheran brandishing nukes. The divergence is on how that is best achieved.

New Delhi, with its own experience in beating sanctions in the quest for nuclear weapons, believes that coercion alone would only deepen Iranian determination.

Alongside the spectre of economic disruption and military force, Iran must be offered a face-saving withdrawal through cast-iron security guarantees.

Given America's physical presence on both its flanks, Israeli sabre-rattling and the contemporary lessons of Iraq, Libya and Syria (in contrast to nuclear North Korea and Pakistan), it would be surprising if Teheran were not to conclude that nuclear weapons are the only guarantee of regime survival.

India can offer more than advice, howsoever sage. Negotiations with Iran are going nowhere, although the so-called P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany [ Images ]) will meet Iranian negotiators later in May.

The ongoing process is based on mutual deception. Teheran is fighting a rearguard action to gain space for its nuclear weapons programme; meanwhile the P5+1 is arm-twisting Iran without addressing its core concerns.

The technical issues of verification, inspection and relocation of nuclear fuel that are discussed upfront must be complemented with a back-channel process that addresses the key issue of Iranian insecurity. New Delhi, as the only agent that enjoys trust in all the key capitals -- Teheran, Washington, Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Ankara and Moscow -- must offer itself as a back-channel interlocutor.

For years, New Delhi's strategic policy of multi-alignment has built trust and equity in these countries. Stepping up to the plate would enhance Indian stature; cement relations with important regional and global powers; and defuse the threat of a confrontation that can only end in turmoil.

Indian Maoists are ready for Final assult

THE FACTS that one of 2 Italian hostages was a staged drama is news. "One of the Italians, Paolo Bosusco, had visited the area several times before and enjoyed the hospitality of the Maoists. His being taken hostage was a staged drama to humble the Indian state. Paolo is a member of an Italy based Ultra-Leftist organisation, Party of Committees to Support Resistance for Communism (CARC)."

Per article the Chinese are also supporting the Maoists.


An analysis of recent events related to Maoist terrorism shows that the four-decades-old phenomenon has entered its most dangerous phase. The abduction of two Italian nationals, Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo, on 18 March, the deportation of 10 French tourists from Bihar in the last week of April, the abduction of the Odisha MLA Jhina Hikaka on 24 March, and the abduction of Alex Menon, the Sukma Collector in Chhattisgarh and the killing of his two bodyguards on 21 April — may appear ostensibly disparate occurrences, but are linked.

When pieced together, they suggest that Maoist terrorism has entered a critical phase wherein a final assault is being made on the political fabric – Indian democracy. Crucial to this assault are the international benefactors of the Maoists and their over-ground elements in the cloak of intellectuals and social-activists.

In fact, this assault was discernible some years ago and the foreign-hand was quite evident when members of the European Commission descended on Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, to witness the trial of Binayak Sen in the high court. The internal hand was also quite evident when subsequently an outrageous step was taken to appoint Binayak Sen as a member of a health committee of the Planning Commission. The idea was to 'cock a snook' at one segment of the Indian establishment even while another segment was hopelessly engaged in restraining the Maoists.

It was meant to be an assault on the psyche and morale of the security forces. The anti-national agenda of the white-collared Maoists triumphed over the patriotism, sacrifice and diligence of the security forces.

The collaborative or dismissive or nonchalant attitude of the Indian establishment continues to sink to abysmal depths. While politicians, bureaucrats and media personnel make a beeline to the house of Alex Paul Menon, the abducted collector who was recently released, the sacrifices of two policemen guarding him have gone altogether unsung. One of them was 28-year-old Amjad Khan. He was shot three times from point-blank range. This three-bullet treatment by the Maoists was because Amjad had retaliated when his colleague Kujur, the other jawan, was killed. Amjad belonged to the minority community and Kujur was a tribal.

The BJD MLA from Laxmipur in Odisha, Jhina Hikaka, is also a tribal. It was the tribal who voted him to the Assembly. He is the people's representative. In a 'Kangaroo Court', the Maoists allegedly extracted a promise that he would resign from the assembly. This was said so by a Maoist leader calling herself 'Aruna' in an audio message aired by a local television channel. Ironically, in the forefront of the abduction operation of Alex Paul Menon in Chhattisgarh was also a woman.

The Maoist leaders have, over a period of time, created such terror that women have no option but to become tools of violence and sex in the service of male cadres. Villages are being terrorised to 'donate' at least one child from each family to the cause of Maoist terror. This is the story of the 'liberated zone' of the Maoists. Those who resisted formed the 'Salwan Judum' (peace-march) only to find security in the 'non-liberated zone' of the Maoist or government-controlled territory. But our so-called intellectuals, or white-collared criminals supporting the Maoists, gave the 'Salwan Judum' movement a totally new meaning. They, and the international benefactors of the Maoists, went on an overdrive in every conceivable public platform, importantly the media and the judiciary.

Coming back to the Maoist assault on the political fabric of India, only six months ago the Maoists had gunned down another BJD legislator, Jagabandhu Majhi, and his security guard . He was a popular tribal leader and represented the Umerkote constituency. He was wheelchair bound as a consequence of an attempt on his life by the Maoists in 2004. All his life Jagabandhu had fought for the land rights of tribals. Ironically, the MLA was killed while distributing land ownership papers (pattas) to landless tribals. He was killed because the Maoists were unnerved by the feeling that their constituency was being weaned away.

The Maoists do not brook any element or organ of the state which seeks to dilute their sway over the people in 'liberated zones'. The only people who can end their captivity under the Maoists are politicians, particularly elected representatives, whatever their worth. That they are desperately looking for windows of opportunity to break away from Maoist shackles is substantiated by their participation in elections despite the diktat of the Maoists. Most small-time and influential local politicians in the Red Corridor have either been eliminated or terrorised by the Maoists.

Such has been the level of Maoist terror that in the panchayat elections in Jharkhand and Odisha, a large number of seats went in favour of the Maoists uncontested. There were many other seats wherein victory for the proxy candidates of the Maoists was ensured by sheer terror. With large sums of money now being allocated by the government directly to panchayats, a situation has now arisen wherein the government will now be directly funding Maoist terror.

Having eliminated or terrorised local politicians, it was only logical for the Maoists to begin targeting MPs and MLAs. As per a released press statement during the hostage drama of Jhina Hikaka by the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of CPI (Maoists), all MPs and MLAs of Koraput district are on their hit-list. As per a member of parliament of the Congress party from Odisha, about 70 MLAs and 10 MPs are under constant Maoist threats. This constitutes half the elected members from the state, the total number of MPs being 21 and MLAs 149.

The Maoists have spread their influence in 24 of the 30 districts in the state. This is a growing phenomenon in the entire Red Corridor spanning Andhra, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. During elections, in most Maoist-affected areas, there is no polling after 3.00 pm notwithstanding the large presence of para-military and police personnel. Odisha is now serving as the pivot for the political subversion of India by the Maoists.

It was rather very intrepid of a Union minister to visit the worst Maoist-affected areas in Jharkhand (Latehar District) on a motorcycle during this period of heightened threat. Two months ago, the minister had visited Gadchiroli, a Maoist stronghold in Maharastra. His visit was answered by the Maoists three days later by way of a mineblast in which 12 CRPF personnel were killed. The minister had after all visited the area with the agenda of development!

And so did Vinil Krishna, the collector of Malkangiri, who was abducted by the Maoists in February 2011. It is another matter that consequent to his release he had no qualms in allowing himself to be garlanded like a war hero. He now serves as the private secretary to the Union minister. His appointment, if some press reports are to be believed, was recommended by "professional interlocutors", who offer their services whenever there is a hostage crisis involving the Maoists.  The Congress party in Odisha had dubbed the abduction of Krishna as a 'well-planned drama' and had demanded a CBI probe. Where does the truth lie? I leave it for the readers to decide.

In February 2012, the Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda confessed that it was the Maoists who indeed killed Odisha MLA Jagbandhu Majhi in September 2011 and Swami Laxmananda Saraswati in 2007. The killing of the latter was motivated by the religious discourse in Maoist terror that has pervaded Kandhamal district. It is intriguing, rather revealing, that the two Italians chose to travel to Kandhamal area ignoring the travel advisory of the Italian government and warnings by the Indian government.

One of the Italians, Paolo Bosusco, had visited the area several times before and enjoyed the hospitality of the Maoists. His being taken hostage was a staged drama to humble the Indian state. Paolo is a member of an Italy based Ultra-Leftist organisation, Party of Committees to Support Resistance for Communism (CARC). In December 2011, the Maoist Communist Party of Manipur in a press release had acknowledged its association and support of some foreign based ultra-leftist outfits. They are: Communist Party of Philippines, Association for Proletarian Solidarity, Italy (ASP), Maoist Communist Party of France, Revolutionary Communist Party Canada (PCR – RCP), and Party of the Committees to Support Resistance for Communism (CARC), Italy. Some of the western countries had played a very dubious role in fanning Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in Nepal to facilitate religious conversion. Kandhamal district of Odisha suffers from the same paradigm. Nepal's example should not be lost out on India.

As far as military prowess of the Maoists goes, there is evidence of AK-47s being supplied by the United Wa Army in Myanmar. The AK-47 manufacturing facility has been provided by China to the said insurgent outfit. The Maoist-ISI-LeT-militant groups nexus in Kashmir and the North-East is fairly well established. The Chinese, according to a national television channel, have also begun to supply sophisticated signal equipment with encryption capabilities to the Maoists.

The war is on. In this war the adversary has a deadly cocktail of ideology, foreign support, religious agenda, armed cadres, criminal financing and terror. It would be anti-national to treat it as a law and order problem. The assault is now on Indian democracy and the unity of India. Let us unite and fight because now in question is the very air-of-freedom that we are breathing.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a columnist for Canary Trap. This post was first published on Firstpost on May 3, 2012)

India's Maoists are no rag-tag rebels

By Neeta Lal
NEW DELHI - As India's Maoists continue to strike terror in the hearts of civilians by looting and kidnapping with impunity - they are now estimated to control a staggering one-third of the country's districts - more disquieting facts about their modus operandi are surfacing.

According to the latest interrogations of arrested top Maoist leaders by Indian intelligence, the rebels have succeeded in raising a army of their own right in the heart of the country that is fortified with AK- 47 assault rifles and an array of deadly weapons and arms.

The strategy that has been employed by the terrorists in building their army paints them as a much deadlier adversary than was previously assumed. Conversant with the techniques of modern

warfare,this force is far from a ragtag bunch of confused soldiers inhabiting swathes of jungle.

The new intelligence has found that the Maoist army has three components: the main force, a secondary force and a base force.

The main force - armed with ammunition looted mostly from security forces - has companies, platoons and special action teams besides an intelligence unit. The secondary force comprises special guerilla squads, while the base force is made up of the jan militia. The lower-most Maoist cadre use double-barrel and single-barrel guns, homemade weapons and claymore landmines to blow up vehicles.

The government has now officially pegged the figure of the armed cadres at a staggering 46,600. Of these, the hardcore Maoists number around 8,600 while the jan militia numbers around 38,000, with the latter carrying rudimentary arms and providing logistics support to the core group of the People Liberation Guerilla Army of the CPI (Maoist).

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as "the biggest internal security challenge since Independence", and there is believed to be a "red corridor" stretching from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh to the central state of Chhattisgarh and into West Bengal, bordering Nepal and Bhutan.

The insurgents started their armed struggle in 1967 with a peasant revolt in Naxalbari village in West Bengal, hence the oft-used moniker of the "Naxals". Regrouping in the 1980s, the group recruited thousands of poor villagers and armed them with rifles snatched from police, with their Maoist cause resonating among a poor population who've felt little of the benefits of India's socio-economic progress.

However, the Naxals have been charged with running an extortion economy under the garb of a popular revolution. They extract enormous
 sums of money from mining companies, police say. According to a Reuters report, the rebels extort about US$300 million from companies in India every year to fund their movement.
Enlightening as the new facts about the Maoists are, it is also intriguing why the government has chosen now to release details of the Maoist army and its militia in the public domain. After all, doesn't the disclosure underscore the Maoists' strength and their acumen while highlighting the government's continued failure to control them?

Many feel the disclosures will help the agencies better understand their puzzling adversary, as it seems their appeal cannot be diminished by slogans of development and governance alone. Also, as a newspaper editorial put it, the information reveals that the Maoists are working to ensure the state cannot bring the benefits of democratic governance to the vast tracts they control through fear.

Ministry figures reveal that to
 battle the Maoists, the government has had to deploy 94,000 paramilitary personnel in nine states. In addition, nearly 100,000 policemen are tackling the Naxals in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand - two of the worst-hit states. Over 78 battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal and Indo-Tibetan Border Police are stationed in other states to fight the Naxal terror.

Despite the heavy investment of financial and military resources, the Naxals have succeeded in killing 483 security men while losing only 286 from their own cadre since 2010. "The Maoists continue to have an edge because of the topography of their hideouts in deep forests," revealed Minister of State in the Home Ministry Jitendra Singh in a written reply to the Lok Sabha (lower house) this week.

There is increasing concern in the security establishment over the dramatic upward spiral in the fatalities of the security forces at the hands
 of the Maoists. Ultras killed 52 security personnel in the first three months of this year until March 31. The CPI (Maoist) - spearheading the Naxal violence across the country - accounts for 95% of the incidents perpetrated by the Maoists in the affected states.

Alarmingly, from traditional guerrilla hit-and-run tactics, the Naxals have moved seamlessly to terror tactics of kidnap and ransom.

Last month, a group of 15 extremists, disguised as villagers, kidnapped a 32-year-old official in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district. As his pregnant wife pleaded for mercy and asked the government to ensure his safe release, the Maoists radioed to a reporter a list of five demands for his freedom that included the release of many Naxal leaders.

This incident was part of a series of abductions that the Maoists have engineered over the past two years in Chhattisgarh and neighboring Orissa.

Their first major success was Malkangiri district
 collector R Vineel Krishna in Orissa in February last year, followed by two Italians and politician Jhina Hikaka. The tactic proved effective, with the Orissa government accepting most of their 13 demands, including halting combing operations in the state, to secure Krishna's release. It had also facilitated the bail of five Maoist leaders.

The kidnap ploy was not limited to two states. After West Bengal Police officer Attindranath Dutta was held hostage in 2009, the state government released 22 imprisoned women with alleged Maoist links for his freedom.

Then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya termed the swap deal an "exception" and not all abducted officials have been so lucky because the government has no policy to deal with the situation. Overall, according to the Home Ministry, out of the 1,554 people abducted by Maoists in the past four years, 328 were killed.

"There has definitely been a shift in tactics. Since the
 abduction of Krishna last year, the rebels have realized that it is a more effective way of bringing the government to its knees. We can expect more kidnappings. It's a dangerous trend," former Orissa director general of police Gopal Nanda told the media.

Union Home Ministry figures reveal that the Maoists have consciously whittled down the number of direct confrontations with security forces over the past couple of years - from 309 in 2009 to 272 in 2010 and just 223 in 2011. As a consequence, Naxalite casualties also plummeted from 219 in 2009 to 99 last year.

The government's continued failure to contain the Maoists, resulted earlier this year in Delhi handing over major incidents perpetrated by the Naxals to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) "for a swift probe and to bring the culprits to book in time".

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has indicated that Naxal violence could be treated on par with terror attacks and
 the investigation of such cases may be given to the NIA.

The move to hand over the Maoist attack cases to the NIA, say experts, is a part of the government's multi-pronged strategy to deal with ultra-left extremism.

Political analysts say the Maoists are able to leverage the situation because of a policy vacuum in Delhi on dealing with Naxalite kidnappings. The government has been dealing with this kind of terror by releasing captured Maoist cadre to get back hostages, thinking they can arrest them again. But clearly this tactic hasn't worked and a rethink is in order.

However, many are optimistic that the problem isn't intractable. "Though we are fighting a mini-army, its strength is not so daunting that it cannot be overwhelmed. It is possible to disintegrate it if there is the political will to do so," says an ex-Border Security Force chief.

So far, however, that "will" seems totally missing.

Neeta Lal is a widely published writer/commentator who contributes to many reputed national and international print and Internet publications.          

US Congress resolution on Balochistan

H.CON.RES.104 -- Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign... (Introduced in House - IH)





2d Session

H. CON. RES. 104

Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country.


February 17, 2012

Mr. ROHRABACHER (for himself, Mr. GOHMERT, and Mr. KING of Iowa) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs




Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country.

Whereas the people of Baluchistan have maintained a proud and distinctive national, cultural, and religious identity dating back to ancient times;

Whereas in 1666, the Baluch Khanate of Kalat was founded which functioned as an independent, sovereign country;

Whereas in the 19th century, the Baluch people were conquered and divided by the imperialist expansion of Persia (Iran) and the British Empire;

Whereas, on August 15, 1947, the Khan of Kalat declared independence, only to have Baluch aspirations crushed by an invasion by Pakistan in April 1948 followed by 2 years of a bloody campaign to stamp out popular resistance;

Whereas revolts in 1958, 1973, and 2005 indicate continued popular discontent against rule by Islamabad, and the plunder of its vast natural wealth while Baluchistan remains the poorest province in Pakistan;

Whereas a popular insurgency is also under way in Sistan-Baluchistan and being met by brutal repression by the dictatorship in Iran which has added religious bigotry to tyranny; and

Whereas it is the policy of the United States to oppose aggression and the violation of human rights inherent in the subjugation of national groups as currently being shown in Iran and Pakistan against the aspirations of the Baluch people: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status among the community of nations, living in peace and harmony, without external coercion.

Compelling Conversations: The Balochistan Series (Part 1)


Friday, 18th May 2012 | 7:00 pm

Thousands of people have been killed and similar numbers have been injured, displaced, arrested or have gone missing due to the conflict in Balochistan. Despite this, the province remains an enigma for most Pakistanis who do not live there. Official history books are riddled with inaccuracies, and the mainstream media rarely covers the conflict with much depth.

The aim of the Balochistan Series at T2F is to encourage open and informal dialogue about the Balochistan conflict, and especially to bring you voices that are generally not heard. Join us in our discussions with academics, activists, and journalists to get a range of views about what is happening in Balochistan.

Session 1: A Brief History of Baloch Nationalism (1920s to 2004)

Did you know that from August 11, 1947 until March 1948, Pakistan officially recognized the State of Kalat as an independent sovereign state? Did you know that TV presenter, Najam Sethi and journalist, Ahmed Rashid were among a clandestine group of students from London who joined the guerrilla movement in the mountains of Balochistan in the 1970s?

Part of the problem in any discussion about the Baloch conflict is the lack of awareness or availability of credible information on the history of the movement. In the inaugural session of this series, we will discuss the history of the Baloch nationalist movement from its inception in the 1920s up until 2004 (prior to the start of the current insurgency).

Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed is the director of the Pakistan Study Center at the University of Karachi and has written extensively on the subject of federalism in Pakistan.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur is a columnist for the Daily Times newspaper. He is an advocate for Baloch rights and was among those who joined the guerrilla movement during the 1973-1977 conflict.

Nazish Brohi has been working in the development sector for 14 years in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. She has led research projects and has published on impacts of conflict; women and land politics, on various forms of violence, and on the religious right wing in Pakistan.

With our moderator, Nazish Brohi and the audience, our two guests will have an informal discussion about the rise of Baloch nationalism and the major features of its history.

Anyone interested in doing some reading ahead of the session can find links on our website at:

The next three sessions of the Balochistan Series will focus on:

- Understanding the current insurgency (2004 – present)
- Women in the Balochistan conflict
- The impact of the conflict on non-Baloch citizens in Balochistan

Date: Friday, 18th May, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Minimum Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously.
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Seats are limited and will be available on a 'first come, first served' basis. No reservations.

May 14, 2012

Netnography : Analyses the free behaviour of individuals on the Internet

Netnography is the branch of ethnography that analyses the free behaviour of individuals on the Internet that uses online marketing research techniques to provide useful insights. The word "netnography" comes from "Inter[net]" and "eth[nography]" and was a process and term coined by Dr. Robert V. Kozinets. As a method, "netnography" can be faster, simpler, and less expensive than ethnography, and more naturalistic and unobtrusive than focus groups or interviews (Kozinets, 2010), (del Fresno, 2011). Netnography is similar to an ethnography in five ways: 1. It is naturalistic 2. It is immersive 3. It is descriptive 4. It is multi-method 5. It is adaptable . It provides information on the symbolism, meanings, and consumption patterns of online consumer groups (Kozinets, 2010) or online communities consumption unrelated but online sociability based on the exchange of information (del Fresno, 2011). Netnography is focused on cultural, simbolic o information insights.



[edit] The basis for netnography

Consumers making lifestyle, product and brand choices are increasingly turning to computer-mediated communication for information on which to base their decisions. Besides perusing advertising and corporate websites, consumers are using virtual communities and other online social sharing formats to share ideas and contact fellow consumers who are seen as more objective information sources. The freely expressed opinion of individuals on the social web provides researchers with data coming from thousands of individuals behaving freely. It also allows researchers to keep record of these interactions, quantify changes over time, and perform insightful analysis using a variety of tools and methods.

The study of communication patterns and content between/within these social groups on the Internet is one method of netnographic analysis. These social groups are popularly referred to as "virtual communities" (Rheingold 1993). However, as stated by Jones (1995), the term "virtual" might misleadingly imply that these communities are less "real" than physical communities. Yet as Kozinets (1998, p. 366) pointed out, "these social groups have a 'real' existence for their participants, and thus have consequential effects on many aspects of behaviour, including consumer behavior" (see also Muniz and O'Guinn 2001).

Individuals participating in these "virtual communities" often share in-depth insight on themselves, their lifestyles, and the reasons behind the choices they make as consumers (brands, products etc.) The knowledge exchanged within these public communities is often commercially valuable, as it can help companies develop better marketing strategies, help identify industry trends or candidates for employment, or help product engineers improve their products. Not surprisingly, since these communities often include attempts to inform and influence fellow consumers about products and brands (Handaa 1999, Muniz and O'Guinn 2001), and since one major factor influencing positive brand equity for one brand over another is consumer advocacy (Almquist and Roberts, 2000), commercial firms are often very interested in determining the level and nature of conversation around their brands and products, and looking for methods to influence those conversations.

[edit] Sample netnographic analysis

Below are listed four different types of online community from a netnographic analysis by Kozinets (see Kozinets ref. below for more detail). Even though the technologies, and the use of these technologies within culture, is evolving over time, the insights below have been included here in order to show an example of what a market-oriented "netnography" looked like:

  1. bulletin boards, which function as electronic bulletin boards (also called newsgroups, usegroups, or usenet groups). These are often organized around particular products, services or lifestyles, each of which may have important uses and implications for marketing researchers interested in particular consumer topics (e.g., McDonalds, Sony Playstation, beer, travel to Europe, skiing). Many consumer-oriented newsgroups have over 100,000 readers, and some have over one million (Reid 1995).
  2. Independent web pages as well as web-rings composed of thematically-linked World Wide Web pages. Web-pages such as epinions ([]) provide online community resources for consumer-to-consumer exchanges. Yahoo!'s consumer advocacy listings also provide useful listing of independent consumer web-pages. Yahoo! also has an excellent directory of web-rings ([]).
  3. lists (also called listservs, after thesoftware program), which are e-mail mailing lists united by common themes (e.g., art, diet, music, professions, toys, educational services, hobbies). Some good search engines of lists are [] and [].
  4. multi-user dungeons and chat rooms tend to be considerably less market-oriented in their focus, containing information that is often fantasy-oriented, social, sexual and relational in nature. General search engines (e.g., Yahoo! or excite) provide good directories of these communities. Dungeons and chat rooms may still be of interest to marketing researchers (see, e.g., White 1999) because of their ability to provide insight into particular themes (e.g., certain industry, demographic or lifestyle segments). However, many marketing researchers will find the generally more focused and more information-laden content provided by the members of boards, rings and lists to be more useful to their investigation than the more social information present in dungeons and chat rooms.

[edit] Netnography process

Netnography follows six overlapping steps: 1. Research Planning 2. Entrée 3. Data Collection 4. Interpretation 5. Ensuring ethical standards 6. Research representation (Kozinets, 2010)

India fortifies its island defenses

By Sudha Ramachandran
BANGALORE - The Indian Navy has commissioned a new base, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Dweeprakshak, in the Lakshadweep Islands. Located at Kavaratti, the island chain's capital, Dweeprakshak will provide the navy with a permanent and more robust presence in waters that are threatened by pirates.

The Lakshadweep archipelago (Lakshadweep means a hundred thousand islands in Sanskrit) consists of 36 islands, 12 atolls, three reefs and five submerged banks that are scattered in the
southern Arabian Sea, 200-400 kilometers off the southern Indian coastal state of Kerala.

Since 1980, the Indian Navy has operated a detachment in the Lakshadweep Islands. However, in December 2010 a Coast Guard district headquarters was commissioned at Kavaratti and a Coast Guard station was set up at Minicoy. A second Coast Guard station was set up at Androth Island in April this year.

The facilities at Lakshadweep have been scaled up now to a full-fledged naval base.

INS Dweeprakshak is India's sixth naval base and the fourth protecting the country's western flank. It is India's second base in island territories, the other being the base at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Dweeprakshak will come under the Southern Naval Command.

The decision to beef up India's naval muscle at Lakshadweep has its roots in security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and the rising threat of pirate attacks in the Arabian Sea in recent years. Lakshadweep's strategic significance stems not only from its proximity to the Indian mainland but also, Nine Degree Channel - a 200-kilometer wide stretch of water through which much of the shipping between West Asia and South East Asia transits runs to the north of Minicoy, the southern-most of the islands.

The magnitude of India's concern over the safety of sea lanes can be gauged from the fact that over 97% percent of India's trade by volume and 75% by value is sea borne. The key role that the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean play in meeting its India's energy requirements is evident from the fact that 67% of this comes from the Persian Gulf and 17% from Africa.

Although the vulnerability of India's coast to terrorist infiltration and attacks became apparent in the early 1990s - the huge quantity of explosives used in the serial blasts in Mumbai in March 1993 was transported through the sea route - it was only after the terror attacks there in November 2008 that the India establishment began acting to secure the coasts - investigations revealed that Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives from Pakistan entered Mumbai undetected via the Arabian Sea. India has now put in place a maritime defense plan to secure its 7,516-km long coast line, including the island territories of Laskhadweep.

The infrastructure set up in Lakshadweep is essential not only to safeguard the Indian mainland from terrorist attacks but also to prevent terrorists from taking sanctuary on the islands. Of Lakshadweep's 36 islands, 26 are uninhabited. That makes them vulnerable to misuse by terrorists for sanctuary or as training bases. Such anxieties have grown in the wake of the growing religious extremism, reported jihadi activity and political instability in the Maldives, which lie to the south of Lakshadweep.

Besides, there is the threat of piracy to Indian and other shipping near India's waters. Anti-piracy operations by the multi-national task force in the Gulf of Aden created a "balloon effect", which resulted in pirate attacks shifting further afield into the middle of the Indian Ocean, even the seas near the Indian coastline. There have been a series of incidents in recent years involving piracy and trespassing in the vicinity of the Lakshadweep Islands.

In March 2010, for instance, pirates sought to hijack a Maltese ship 200 nautical miles off Lakshadweep Islands in India's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The attempt was foiled by the Indian Navy.

Then in May, eight Somali pirates were apprehended by the Indian navy off the Lakshadweep Islands. In November, two piracy attempts on container ships were successfully thwarted; one of the incidents happened just 150 nautical miles off Minicoy.

In December, a Bangladesh merchant ship was hijacked by Somalian pirates some 70 nautical miles from the Lakshadweep Islands. The same month an Indian warship on patrol apprehended an Iranian dhow with four Iranians and 15 Pakistanis on board some 300 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep's Bitra Island in India's EEZ. In November last year, a "mysterious" Iranian ship MV Assa that was reportedly armed was docked in the EEZ near Lakshadweep for around 40 days.

Surveillance and patrolling of the seas off the Lakshadweep Islands by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard have resulted in hundreds of pirates being apprehended over the past year. The setting up of a full-fledged naval base at Lakshadweep will substantially enhance India's capacity to ward off threats from pirates and terrorists.

India has deployed a warship in the Gulf of Aden as part of the multi-national anti-piracy force. It has stationed two warships in the central and eastern Arabian Sea "but in a flexible formation for redeployment on an as required basis", India Abroad News Service reported. Such efforts will be further strengthened by the base at Lakshadweep, which will have warships, aircraft and helicopters.

While the naval base will enhance the infrastructure and capacity of the coastal security network, the problems of India's coastal security seem rather basic and cannot be addressed by deploying more warships.

The flaws in the coastal security network were made visible rather dramatically during the turbulent monsoon months last year when unmanned ships slipped past radars and other high-tech "eyes" to drift undetected in Indian waters and ran aground at Mumbai's Juhu beach.

The first incident occurred on 12 June 2011, when a 9,000-ton cargo ship MV Wisdom that was headed to the Alang shipbreaking yard in Gujarat broke tow, and then drifted on to Juhu beach. Then on July 31, the 1,000-ton MV Pavit, which had been abandoned by its crew a month earlier near Oman, ran aground at Juhu beach. The 1,000-ton ship had drifted for over a hundred hours in India's territorial waters and slipped past a three-level coastal security network involving the navy, the coast guard and the coastal police before it crept up on to the beach.

These were not small fishing boats but massive vessels and that they could enter not just Indian waters but also ride right onto the coast undetected is a damning indictment of the coastal security network.

While analysts have focussed on the poor infrastructure in detailing the leaks in the coastal security network, it is the lack of communication and co-ordination between the navy, the coast guard and the coastal police that lies at the heart of its failures.

Consider the response to MV Pavit's advance onto the Indian coast. It appears that the ship was first sighted the previous night by a hotel manager looking at the sea through his binoculars. He alerted a police station at Juhu. A cop went to the beach but couldn't see the vessel. He did not pass on the information anyway to the Coast Guard.

The following morning, fishermen saw the vessel lurching towards the coast. The informed the police station, who again failed to alert the coast guard. When the cops finally informed the coast guard at around 8.30 am, the latter asked for the information to be faxed but the police station was not equipped with a fax machine. By then, MV Pavit had run aground at Juhu beach taking early morning joggers by surprise.

Very basic problems are causing the coastal security network to leak. These are problems that warships cannot fix.

According to Pushpita Das of the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, the "problem lies not in the measures adopted but in the inadequate attention paid to the functioning of the system at the ground level where the actual action takes place".

The little "coordination or information sharing" taking place at present between the navy, the coast guard and the coastal police "is largely based on personal rapport between the concerned officers", she observes, calling for the institutionalization of this "rapport".

A new naval base with warships and aircraft is a fine idea for enhancing security in the seas. But there is only so much it can do to secure the coast.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore. She can be reached at