July 20, 2017

Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind

Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji for the emphatic victory in the 2017 Presidential elections. His victory is truly historic.

Profile: Pari Ibrahim, How this young Yazidi is bringing hope to IS victims


Pari Ibrahim (C), the 27-year-old founder of the Free Yazidi Foundation, stands surrounded by Yezidi children in a refugee camp in Iraq. (photo by Free Yezidi Foundation)

How this young Yazidi is bringing hope to IS victims

Author: Brenda Stoter 
Posted July 6, 2016

AMSTERDAM — Pari Ibrahim, 27, was a regular law student in the Netherlands who had a job in a library until she received a phone call at 5 a.m. in August 2014 that would change her life forever. A family member from northern Iraq called to inform her that the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) had invaded Sinjar and had killed the men and kidnapped the women and children. “We are being massacred, we are heading for the mountains,” the family member said.

Ibrahim, who belongs to the Yazidi community, had fled Iraq with her parents in the 1990s and now lives in the Netherlands. After receiving the phone call, she frantically started searching the internet for information, but was not able to find news. Slowly it became clear what had happened in Sinjar. Thousands of Yazidi men had been killed or disappeared and 6,000 women and children had been enslaved by IS, including 19 females and 21 males who are Ibrahim’s relatives.

The women and girls, some as young as 9, were traded and sold as sex slaves, the boys were forcibly converted to Islam and were brainwashed to serve as fighters. The men were massacred and dumped in dozens of mass graves. To separate the boys from the men, IS militants looked at their armpits — if they had hair, they were killed, Ibrahim explained to Al-Monitor.

From that moment onward, Ibrahim decided to fully dedicate herself to the plight of the Yazidis.

“When they suffer, I suffer,” said Ibrahim, who immediately quit her job. “My parents gave me 300 euros [$332] to start an organization, and I managed to collect 1,500 euros [$1,664] as well. A friend donated 8,000 euros [$8,875] to help me tell the world what had happened.”

That was the moment the Free Yezidi Foundation was born. She added, “At some point, Gucci found out about our initiative and donated $120,000. This came as a gift from heaven as it allowed us to start various projects, such as opening women and children's centers.”

The Free Yezidi Foundation is one of the two leading foundations (the other is called Yazda) founded by the Yazidi diaspora. In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the group opened centers for Yazidi women and children and flew in a trauma specialist to assess future provision of mental health care. The organization also lobbies with governments to raise awareness for the plight of the Yazidis and to lobby for an intervention to save the more than 3,200 women still enslavedby IS. Ibrahim travels the world to tell people what happened to the Yazidis. She spoke at the UN Security Council and the House of Lords and has been interviewed by many media outlets, including the BBC.

“Recently, we heard that 19 girls were locked in cages and burned alive for refusing to have sex with IS fighters. We heard this from some locals who phoned their relatives in northern Iraq, although still we do not have the details confirmed,” Ibrahim said.

She added, “It was a well-planned and well-coordinated attack against the Yazidi people, not against the Kurds. People do not understand that Yazidis are not Kurds, and that Yazidis were murdered and enslaved for simply being Yazidi.”

Shortly after the massacre and enslavement, IS released an issue of its online magazine Dabiq in which it explained the enslavement of the Yazidis, whom they call “devil worshippers.” Enslavement is the appropriate treatment of “pagan” women, according to Sharia, IS argued.

In a chilling passage, it said, “Enslaving the families of the kuffar [unbelievers] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharia that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Prophet, and thereby apostatizing from Islam.”

Together with Yazda, the Free Yezidi Foundation started a mission to ensure justice is served on behalf of the Yazidi community. In September 2015, the organizations delivered a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on the involvement of foreign fighters in war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as genocide, sexual slavery and other crimes. Their goal is to prosecute IS, in particular foreign fighters.

Around 6,000 jihadis from Europe have joined IS in Iraq and Syria. A substantial number of them have returned, of whom many have not been prosecuted and are still freely walking the streets. Prosecutors in Europe often face difficulties finding legal evidence that fighters have been involved in war crimes and thus found it difficult to bring cases against them.

According to Ibrahim, there is evidence that foreign fighters have been involved in the crimes of genocide and sexual slavery, as many victims have testified. The Free Yezidi Foundation would like to link testimonies of Yazidi survivors to individual cases of foreign fighters to make prosecution possible. Also, the organizations are working on decoding the IS hierarchy as fighters from the West occupy lower, middle and higher ranks within the terrorist organization.

Ibrahim gave an example: “We were able to prove the involvement of three foreign fighters in war crimes, but all three were killed. However, we know that many more have been involved, such as German and French jihadis. And it is a fact that many foreign fighters have returned to the West.”

Recently, she was informed that some countries in the West are trying to start a case against their foreign fighters as well. “I can’t give you the details right now. We will hear more about this in the future,” she said. One of the reasons why it is also important to have suspects prosecuted by the ICC instead of national courts is because the Yazidis have little faith in the Iraqi justice system, which, according to Ibrahim, is chronically corrupt. Also, she hasn’t heard anything from the Iraqi government yet when it comes to prosecuting foreign IS fighters.

“You can buy your way out of jail in Iraq if you know the right people,” she added. “Yazidis do not trust anyone anymore.” Seeking justice for the Yazidis through the ICC is going to be a long and complicated process, which will probably take years. So far, the ICC has not even opened a preliminary investigation, which is needed to open the case. However, the Yazidi community has hope that this will happen.

“Even if we manage to convict one person, it will be worth the effort. We want recognition and justice,” Ibrahim said.

She added that only two females from her family managed to escape the terror group. The rest of her relatives are still missing.

“The women have been sold and traded as sex slaves. We don’t know what happened to the men. Maybe they have been killed and dumped in mass graves, or maybe IS took them,” she said.


Contributor,  Syria Pulse

Brenda Stoter is a Dutch journalist who writes about the Middle East, with special attention to Syrian women and Western jihad brides. Her articles have been published by Al Jazeera as well as featured in Dutch and Belgium national newspapers and magazines, including Algemeen Dagblad, De Tijd, Het Parool and De Groene Amsterdammer. On Twitter: @BrendaStoter

US changes media note to 'Jammu & Kashmir'


By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | Updated: Jul 20, 2017, 12.25 AM IST

The USA has replaced the term India-administered Kashmir with Jammu and Kashmir in its order designating Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

NEW DELHI: In what would vindicate India’s stand, the USA has replaced the term India-administered Kashmir with Jammu and Kashmir in its order designating Hizbul chiefSyed Salahuddin as a global terroristannounced during PM Narendra Modi’s trip to Washington DC.

This was informed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday by MoS external affairs VK Singh in reply to a question on the subject.

“On June 26, during the visit of the Prime Minister to the US, the Department of State designated Syed Salahuddin, leader of the militant group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). The media note issued by the State Department in this regard on that date had interalia stated “Under Salahuddin’’s tenure as senior HM leader, HM has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people,” the minister said.

He further pointed out, taking cognizance of this, the Ministry’s Spokesperson had issued a statement on June 29, 2017 reiterating the well-known position of India that the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. The matter was also taken up with the US, following which Media Note has been amended by the US State Department in which the reference to ‘’India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir’’ has been replaced by ‘the state of Jammu and Kashmir

US @StateDept changes 'Indian Administered Kashmir' to 'state of Jammu & Kashmir',

#BREAKING: #US @StateDept changes 'Indian Administered Kashmir' to 'state of Jammu & Kashmir', recognizes J&K as in… https://t.co/6pE0dQ3VQt

Swamy Vs Sibal : Fake Hindus Vs Genuine Hindus

Why the U.S. Needs to Understand Chinese Philosophy

China's growing global importance makes it imperative for the U.S. to understand the country's thought processes.

By The Conversation, ContributorJuly 20, 2017, at 10:12 a.m.

Statue of Confucius in Songyang Academy, one of the four great academies in ancient China. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket/Getty Images)

By Bryan W. Van Norden

The need for the U.S. to understand China is obvious. The Chinese economy is on track to become the largest in the world by 2030, Chinese leadership may be the key to resolving the nuclear crisis with North Koreaand China has military and economic ambitions in the South China Sea and India.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has shown (repeatedly) that it's not even clear on the difference between the People's Republic of China (the authoritarian state that occupies the mainland and that recently blacklisted Winnie the Pooh) and the Republic of China (the democratic state that occupies the island of Taiwan and that numerous U.S. presidents have defended against mainland Chinese shows of force).

Part of what U.S. diplomats and informed citizens need to know is the basic historical background to contemporary China. However, as a scholar of Chinese philosophy, I believe it's at least as important to understand how China thinks.

[READ: How Donald Trump Can Avoid a Trade War With China]

Unfortunately, very few universities in the United States teach traditional Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism or Daoism. Why not? And why should we care?

Why study Chinese philosophy?

There are at least three reasons that the lack of Chinese philosophy instruction in U.S. universities is problematic.

First, China is an increasingly important world power, both economically and geopolitically – and traditional philosophy is of continuing relevance in China. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly praised Confucius, the influential Chinese philosopher who lived around 500 B.C.

Like the Buddha, Jesus and Socrates, Confucius has been variously interpreted – sometimes idolized and other times demonized. At the beginning of the 20th century, some Chinese modernizers claimed that Confucianism was authoritarian and dogmatic at its core. Other thinkers have suggested that Confucianism provides a meritocratic alternative that is arguably superior to Western liberal democracy.

Thinking about these issues is important in understanding China's present and future: How will the next generation of Chinese diplomats, party officials and presidents (not to mention ordinary voters) learn about Confucius and his role in China as a political thinker?

Second, Chinese philosophy has much to offer simply as philosophy. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia expressed a common misconception about Chinese philosophy, dismissing it as the "mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie." In reality, Chinese philosophy is rich in persuasive argumentation and careful analysis.

[RELATED: U.S. Tops China in Economic Perceptions]

For example, Georgetown professor Erin Clinehas shown how Confucian ethics can provide a deeper understanding of ethical issues regarding the family and can even inform policy recommendations. Confucians emphasize both the role of parents in nurturing children and the responsibility of government to create environments in which families can flourish. Cline demonstrates that practical initiatives like the Nurse-Family Partnership help to realize both goals.

The third reason that it's important to add Chinese philosophy to the curriculum has to do with the need for cultural diversity. As two philosophers recently pointed out in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:

…academic philosophy in the United States has a diversity problem. …Among U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving philosophy Ph.D.'s in this country, 86 percent are non-Hispanic white.

Both my own experience and that of many of my colleagues suggest that part of the reason for this is that students of color are confronted with a curriculum that appears to be a temple to the achievements of white men. We need to expand the philosophical curriculum to include not only Chinese philosophy, but also the other less commonly taught philosophies, including Africana, feminist, indigenous American, Islamic, Latin American and South Asian philosophies.

Just how bad is the situation?

Most philosophy departments seem unwilling to admit there's philosophy outside of the European tradition that's worth studying.

Among the top 50 philosophy departments in the U.S. that grant a Ph.D., only six (by my reckoning) have a member of their regular faculty who teaches Chinese philosophy: CUNY Graduate CenterDuke UniversityUniversity of California at BerkeleyUniversity of California at RiversideUniversity of Connecticut and University of Michigan.

[RELATED: Why African Students Are Choosing China]

In contrast, every one of the top 50 schools has at least one regular member of the philosophy department who can lecture competently on Parmenides, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. His only surviving work is a poem filled with cryptic utterances like: "for not to be said and not to be thought / is it that it is not." Is this really more profound than the sum total of Chinese philosophy?

I was recently part of a panel at a major academic conference that was specifically advertised as an opportunity for nonspecialists to learn about Chinese philosophy. While other sessions at the conference had packed rooms, we lectured to an audience of fewer than a dozen people.

In contrast, at Chinese universities, both Western and traditional Chinese philosophy are routinely taught. China is also heavily investing in higher education, while the Trump administration hopes to slash funding for education. I expect that China understands the U.S. better than we understand it.

What does the future hold?

At the beginning of this article, I cited some reasons that China is increasingly important on the world stage. Here's one more: China is currently starting upon one of the most ambitious building projects in all of human history, the One Belt, One Road initiative. A modern version of the ancient Silk Road, it will expand and solidify Chinese economic and political power across all of Eurasia.

Can the U.S. really afford not to understand this country? As Confucius said,

"Do not worry that others fail to understand you; worry that you fail to understand others."

This draws on material previously published in this article from May 18, 2016.

This article was written by Bryan W. Van Norden, Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple professor at Yale-NUS College, for The Conversation on July 19. It is republished with permission.

China Calls Pakistan's CPEC Fastest and Most Effective of BRI Projects


July 20, 2017 8:45 AM

Ayaz Gul

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, second from right, speaks as Tunisia's Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, second from left, listens during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, July 19, 2017.



China says its large economic collaboration program with Pakistan has entered “the stage of early harvest", making it the “fastest and most effective" among all projects in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI.

President Xi Jinping launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, two years ago, during his landmark visit to Islamabad. Cooperation has since cemented decades-old relations between the traditionally close allies.

China is investing about $60 billion on a network of roads, railways, fiber optic cables, energy pipelines, industrial clusters and special economic zones in Pakistan.

The corridor will link China's western region of Xinjiang to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, giving the Chinese region the shortest trade route to international markets.

China's acting ambassador to Islamabad, Lijian Zhao, says that 19 CPEC projects worth about $19 billion are either completed or in progress.

“CPEC, as a pilot and major project of BRI, is now the fastest and most effective project among all the projects under the BRI,” he told a seminar in Islamabad.

He described the cooperation as an “unprecedented undertaking” in the history of China-Pakistan relations.

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, and Pakistan's adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, left, leave after a press conference, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, June 25, 2017.

Economic cooperation connected to CPEC has employed thousands of Pakistanis and officials anticipate tens of thousands more will be hired in the next few years.

Gwadar is in Pakistan's Baluchistan province, where deadly attacks on CPEC workers have taken place in recent months.

Some critics in Pakistan have raised concerns about the viability of CPEC, while others have questioned its implications for the country. But officials dismiss the skepticism as unfounded.

“Despite (the fact) there is this criticism and noises here and there, after this four years of hard work and joint efforts of both countries, the CPEC has not been affected by those noises. I can report to you that CPEC is going on very well on the ground,” said the Chinese envoy. He did not elaborate further.

Most of the CPEC projects are in Baluchistan. Pakistani officials allege rival India’s intelligence agency is behind the militant attacks in the province in an attempt to sabotage the Chinese investment.

New Delhi denies the charge, but officials there have voiced concerns over the corridor because it passes through the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the Himalayan region in its entirety.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Tehmina Janjua, while addressing the conference, explained security challenges facing her country’s project with China.

“May I point out, unfortunately, our eastern neighbor (India) has publicly announced its opposition to CPEC. The grounds they give for their opposition are baseless,” Janjua noted.

She went on to denounce India’s opposition as “appalling” for a project that she said would bring development and prosperity to the people of Kashmir.

“China and Pakistan stand shoulder to shoulder in developing CPEC on the agreed time lines. We will continue to march ahead with complete determination, ignoring the negative voices and forcefully responding to any threat to CPEC,” said Janjua.

The Pakistani military has deployed thousands of security personnel to guard the projects and protect Chinese experts and workers.

China has also rejected reported U.S. concerns China plans to turn Gwadar into a Chinese naval base.

Major infrastructure projects being established in the Chinese-funded port of Gwadar include a Free Zone and a new international airport that will be operational by next year, officials say.

While new highways are being built and existing roads upgraded to link areas under CPEC, a coal fired power plant in the central city of Sahiwal has recently been completed, adding 1,320-megawatts of electricity to Pakistan's national grid.

A second 1,320-megawatt coal fired power plant in the southern port city of Karachi is expected to be inaugurated by November at an estimated cast of about $2 billion.

China is also focusing on upgrading Pakistan's railways, increasing average speeds to about 180 kilometers an hour from the current average of 80 kilometers an hour, said Chinese envoy Zhao



Thursday, 20 July 2017 | Pravin Sawhney | in Oped

An all-out war with China is something India can only go for post re-establishment of its military power aligned with newest technology, the same as the adversary

China’s recent announcement of downsising its present 2.3 million (23 lakh) Army, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to under one million (below 10 lakh) has been possible for two reasons: Massive technology infusion for military use, and changed war roles.

Instead of the tail (support elements), the teeth (combat force) of the PLA will be drastically reduced to provide resources for further acquisition of cutting edge technologies for modern warfare, and military reforms to boost China’s aggressive foreign policy. The PLA’s role of ground combat will be minimised, if not completely eliminated. This will ensure fewer losses of PLA lives.

Correspondingly, funds will be allocated to the  People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF),  People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (responsible for ballistic and cruise missiles, and armed aerial vehicles), and People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Forces (cyber, space, electromagnetic, technical assets and psychological warfare).

With the disclosed annual defence allocation of $151 billion (three times of India’s at $49 billion), the manpower ratio of PLA’s Army/Air Force/Navy was 4:2:1 in 2015. Under the first PLA, manpower cut announced by President Xi Jinping in 2015, the Army was to reduce its numbers by three lakh (primarily the tail elements) by 2020. Now, the new radical reduction will ensure that the PLA becomes under one million (10 lakh) by 2022, the year Xi demits office after his 10 years term. In comparison, India, with its frugal defence allocation has 1.3 million (13 lakh) Army, excluding the 80,000 strong Rashtriya Rifles.

The new technologies which will make the PLA capable of fighting modern war with minimal casualties are stand-off weapons, precision ammunition, anti-satellite capabilities, outer space capabilities, electromagnetic war capabilities, cyber war capabilities, accurate ballistic and cruise missiles, hypersonic glide vehicles (capable of achieving 17,000 miles/hour speed), robotics, armed unmanned aerial vehicles and so on. Since no nation gives another these capabilities, whatever the trade-off, China, like other major powers, has built them since 1980 with huge investments in research and development and with complete involvement of its political leadership.

This is not all. China today has the largest warship-building capability in Asia. It builds tanks, guns, aircraft and all weapon platforms from design to final production. China has emerged as a major exporter of arms which it uses for two purposes: Political advantage, and for building inter-operability (ability to fight common war missions together) with friendly nations on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) map which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). Today, the inter-operability between the PLA and the Pakistan military which started in 2011 surpasses that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation at the best of times. Its implication for India is that Pakistan will be able to fight a longer conventional war with support of non-contact war assets.

The PLA’s roles have evolved with the acquisition of technology. The new major PLA role — in addition to territorial defence and homeland security will be to ensure the safety of Chinese people, assets, and interests associated with the BRI across the Eurasian landmass and the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean region.

Given this, the PLA is undergoing at least three major military reforms. One, the PLAN role has been redefined from coastal defence to outer seas. Recently, PLAN has built a logistics facility (precursor to military base) in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and hopes to have similar facilities in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh and Myanmar, much to India’s discomfiture. While China claims its Djibouti facility is to assist anti-piracy, humanitarian relief and protection of sea-lanes, it is a cover to challenge the United States-led existing security architecture in the oceans.

Interestingly, the BRI’s MSR runs exactly along the existing sea lanes of communications in the two oceans. PLAN military bases in the traditional sense will perhaps wait until it has stabilised its operational moorings in the western Pacific.

Second, joint-ness for combat is the buzzword whereby all capabilities of land, air, sea, rockets and Special Forces, assisted by the SSF have been brought under a single commander. And third, while retaining the ‘no first use’ nuclear policy and by not entering into a nuclear arms race, it is refining its nuclear capabilities for strategic deterrence.

Given all this, the military challenge for India is mind-boggling — on the disputed land border and the Indian Ocean Region it faces the growing interoperability between the PLA and the Pakistan military. Given this, India will need to review its military thinking of fighting a two-front war before its clears the 13th consolidated defence Five Year Plan.

This is essential since the utilisation of massive funds will be predicated on an untenable military thinking. According to reports, in the 13th defence Plan, military has sought `26.84 lakh crore ($416 billion) for modernisation.

 Without exception, Generals/ Air Marshals/ Admirals have confessed in private to this writer that the ‘two front war’ thinking is suicidal, unachievable and one-upmanship race for funds. With two adversaries armed with tactical nuclear weapons and having attained interoperability, the pivot of the next war has decisively shifted to the mountains and high altitude terrain. Given this, let alone be the war winning service, the Army — considering it can do little more than tactical attacks and counter-attacks will not contribute much to victory in technology-heavy next war. This is good reason for massive manpower reduction of the 23-lakh Army — not from the tail but teeth too.

There will, however, be the need to strengthen the combat edge of the Indian Air Force built accurate Cruise Missiles and find an answer to the PLA’s doctrine of use of its Ballistic and Cruise Missiles. According to this, the PLA considers the role of Ballistic and Cruise Missile as complementary and not separate from the Air Force.

The other challenge will be from the sea which has been accentuated by increasing interoperability between the PLAN and the Pakistan Navy. This will affect both India’s sea based deterrence and the Indian Navy’s conventional war-fighting capability. The Navy will need to be strengthened with increased allocations. India will need to work intently with friendly powers to ensure security of the region; despite China’s protests, the Malabar exercise needs to become bigger in complexity and participation.

Therefore, the first step is for the political leadership to give achievable military objectives to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), comprising the three services’ Chiefs to replace the two-front war rhetoric. The next step would be for the Integrated Defence Headquarters to rationalise acquisitions based on the COSC joint assessment of the adversaries. This is the only way to meet the PLA challenge. 

(The writer is editor, FORCE newsmagazine

July 19, 2017

Why 2017 Is Not 1962


Amid Doklam Standoff, Chinese Army Holds Live-fire Drills in Tibet

The recent stand-off at the Doklam plateau, and the inevitable parallels that are being drawn, makes it worthwhile to take another look at this conflict

by Bhopinder Singh

When Chinese editorials of its controlled media were baying for Indian blood and suggesting that Indians should “not forget history lessons” of 1962, the sharp rebuttal from defence minister Arun Jaitley that “the situation in 1962 was different, the India of today is different”, was not a political tit-for-tat but a cold reality that needs to be reiterated, stripped of any hyper-nationalistic import. The defence forces of India are specially guarded and weigh each word thoroughly through the prism of hard facts, as opposed to any political posturing. Herein the underpinning calculus of the Indian Army Chief’s stoic comment — that “India was ready for a two-and-a-half-front-war” — was a further confirmation of the Indian preparedness towards any eventuality. This is a fact, despite the numerical and material superiority that China has maintained over India since the 1962 war, and even during the 1967 border conflict at Nathu La and Cho La, as indeed now in 2017. It is equally true that China’s military investments are approximately thrice that of India’s ($151 billion as opposed to $51 billion for India in 2017), and that its standing Army is nearly twice that of India’s (2.3 million to 1.3 million), or even that its estimated nuclear warheads are more than twice that of India’s (260 to 110).

However, none of these statistics count in a restricted war in an isolated theatre. Intrinsically and perversely, the reality of nuclear warheads at the disposal of both the Chinese and Indian regimes fundamentally alter the dynamics as compared to 1962. It acts as a deterrent against escalation to a full-scale war — no two nuclear-armed countries have ever gone to a full-scale war. Principles of “calculated ambiguity” and “second-strike capability” in nuclear doctrines militates against any unilateral approach to undertake one decisive strike, using both conventional and nuclear arms. So, in essence, the equanimity afforded by the joint nuclear status constrains conflicts between warring nations to be restricted to a limited theatre, like Doklam. Excerpts from the leaked Henderson Brooks report, which studied the debacle of 1962 in detail, plot the morass that afflicted the Indian preparedness in 1962 at various levels, like organisational, policy, planning and overall preparedness. From blatant political interference in key command positions, lack of quality intelligence by the agencies, amateurish “forward policy” (overruling professional military concerns from the field commanders) and an overall lack of investment and equipment was reversed and corrected as soon as 1965. For those who state that the 1965 war was an India-Pak war and therefore cannot be equated with the Sino-Indian war dynamics, the following 1967 conflicts at Nathu La and Cho La entailed the Sino-Indian dynamics and the Indian forces came up victorious fair and square in the “restricted” theatre. The high point of Indian military’s professionalism was in 1971 and reiterated in “Kargil” in 1999. So 1962 was a forgotten chapter by 1965 itself, let alone 2017.

The ongoing steely stare down that is playing out in Doklam sector today, involving 6,000 foot soldiers, has more in common with a similar standoff in 1967, when a People’s Liberation Army attack on Nathu La was successfully repulsed, leading to a bloody nose for the PLA. No amount of numerical “paper strength” mattered for much in the eventual outcome that led to a humiliating fatality count of 400 PLA soldiers and an estimated 70 fatal casualties for the Indian infantry battalions. Significantly, the Chinese are not oblivious to the professionalism of the Indian soldier when they state in their columns, “India’s military has more experience in mountain combat”. Localised logjams like Doklam have their own dynamics and operational imperatives that are bereft of the “paper strengths” of hypothetical full-scale wars. Structurally also, the independent PLA is a potential threat to its own regime of the Communist Party of China. Hence, the PLA swears its allegiance to the CPC and not to the country! So the “party Army” necessitates that all company-level PLA officers are also CPC members, and they have “political officers” as apparatchiks to ensure control. The non-military advisory CPC committee members have major say on military matters as opposed to the PLA itself. Amidst all this, “political work” is a significant part of the PLA training that entails wasteful propagandist indoctrination of the CPC’s, civilian sensibilities.

Unlike the Indian armed forces, who have been frequently involved in cross-border wars and insurgencies since 1962, the Chinese have had no major combat experiences. Its famed technological prowess is “reverse engineering” at best with unproven efficacy, whereas the bulk of Indian defence equipment and composition has either been bloodied in combat or is of a credible Western technological origin with proven capabilities. Never mind India, China’s perennial bug bear Taiwan has defied all Chinese belligerence and military bullying — three waves of “Taiwan Strait Crisis” have not altered Taipei’s resilience or sovereignty. With all its numerical strength, supposed “blue water” Navy capabilities, cutting-edge military platforms like the fifth generation Chengdu J-20, burgeoning nuclear weaponry, world’s largest army of cyber warriors and hackers, second largest fleet of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles — Chinese remain unsuccessful in their quest to wrest Taiwan, which is hardly 100 nautical miles from their mainland, equipped at a fraction of China, but with just about enough to give the Chinese a bloody nose!

It is in this context and realm of holding ground approach of the Indian narrative as opposed to the “expansionist” instincts of the Chinese that the Doklam standoff needs to be evaluated and appreciated. The Chinese are past masters of both muscle-flexing and impressive posturing. However, it is with the careful analysis of the PLA track record, evolution of the emerging global dynamics (India-US angularity) and the inherent battle preparedness of the Indian armed forces that the statements made by the Indian defence minister and the Chief of Army Staff need to be decoded. Like the last Sino-Indian skirmish in 1987 in the Sumdorong Chu Valley, it is expected that the thaw will soon ensue and diplomacy will take over to de-escalate tensions. However, history also suggests that the same happens with the Chinese only when the opposing nation has reciprocated the bullying and expansionist tendencies, like in Doklam

The Anglo-German Addiction to American Defense

Image courtesy of raymondclarkeimages/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by Carnegie Europe on 6 July 2017.

Germany and the UK are likely to remain dependent on U.S. defense, because the alternatives are currently too daunting for Berlin and London.

It is obvious that the European members of NATO depend on the United States for their defense. And why wouldn’t they want that dependence to continue? Only Russia currently poses a direct military threat to Europe. However, for all its meddling—both military and nonmilitary—in European NATO members, Russia would hardly want to risk a shooting war with the United States, the world’s only military superpower. Plus, American protection allows Europeans to spend relatively less on defense and more on other things.

Yet, because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s vacillating rhetorical commitment to NATO’s mutual defense, it is becoming fashionable for some European politicians to argue that Europeans will increasingly have to look after themselves. Explaining the rationale behind the need for the EU to expand its military role, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told an audience in Prague on June 9 that the United States was “no longer interested in guaranteeing Europe’s security in our place.”

It is understandable that some European politicians use Trump’s wavering words to garner support for deepening EU military cooperation, which is welcome if it results in Europeans taking more responsibility for their own security. However, greater responsibility is not the same thing as strategic autonomy, and few European governments seem serious about reducing their military dependence on the United States. Apart from the speculative musings of some think tankers, there is no official proposal to develop a full-blown plan B, meaning a collective European military alliance distinct from NATO. (Despite Brexit, to have any military credibility, such an alliance would have to include the UK because it is the largest European defense spender in NATO.)

To illustrate: consider the strategic outlooks of the three biggest European spenders in NATO. France is the exception that proves the rule, having often suggested before Trump took office that Europeans should be more able to look after themselves. Paris has also been the most militarily active European member of NATO in recent years—including by acting alone. The French would generally prefer not to act alone, but the French ambassador to the United Statesnoted on July 4 that “Europeans can’t think of building a future without the Americans.”

The other two leading European military powers, Germany and the UK, show no signs of reducing their strategic dependence on the United States. Take Germany, which Trump has singled out for not contributing enough to NATO. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who remains committed to the transatlantic alliance, has said that she wants Germany to meet NATO’s headline goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense (currently, Berlin devotes only 1.2 percent). Even if Germany spent that amount, which would make it the largest European spender in NATO, there is no guarantee that it would become concomitantly militarily active. German public opinion is generally more pacifist than in many other European countries.

Furthermore, Merkel’s opponent in September’s federal election, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, has used Trump’s urgings as a reason not to spend more on defense. Many German Social Democrats also support the idea of a European army; but without U.S. protection, such an army would require Germans (and others) to spend a lot more on defense—not to mention the military tasks that army might have to carry out.

The UK, in contrast, is more prepared to invest in and use military force than Germany, and has long had a close strategic relationship with the United States. Referring to the recent maiden sail of the first of the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, the pseudonymous British defense blogger Sir Humphrey neatly explained: “This is a useful reminder for the UK to the US that it is serious about playing its part in supporting US navy carrier deployments.”

Few officials or politicians in the UK are willing to discuss publicly how Europeans would defend themselves without the Americans. If anything, the British exit from the EU will push London even closer to Washington. Michael Fallon, the British defense secretary, said in March, “Our defense relationship with the US is unprecedented in its depth and scope. As we leave the EU, our bilateral relationships matter more than ever, so we’ll be enhancing our cooperation and investing more in our joint F-35 fast jet programme.”

For different reasons, Germany and the UK will likely remain addicted to U.S. defense. The alternatives are currently too daunting for Berlin and London. Germany cannot imagine itself as Europe’s leading military power, while the Brexit-bound UK appears to have no geopolitical options other than aligning itself ever more closely with the United States.

Moreover, U.S. actions speak louder than the president’s tweets. The Pentagon wishes to spend some $1.4 billion more in 2018 on defending Europe over this year’s $3.4 billion. Even Trump has started to feed the Anglo-German addiction: the day Juncker spoke in Prague, Trump said at a press conferencewith the Romanian president that he was committed to NATO’s collective defense. The U.S. president may repeat that sentiment today in Warsaw.

Anti-Trumpism alone will not convince Europeans to go their own way on defense. For one, most Europeans expect their relations with the United States to remain stable, according to a June 2017 Pew opinion poll, which suggests that Europeans still prefer to stick with the devil they know. For another, most Europeans are nowhere near psychologically prepared to defend themselves without U.S. protection. French exceptionalism aside, if Germany and the UK are unwilling to curb their addiction to American defense, why would other, militarily less capable Europeans do so

Canadian Military Journal Issue 17, No. 3

Main content

Jul 2017

This issue of the Canadian Military Journal focuses on 1) Russia’s employment of hybrid warfare; 2) the ideology used by North Korea’s ruling regime to legitimize its rule and possession of nuclear weapons; 3) child suicide bombers in Afghanistan; 4) the evolution of high energy laser weapon systems; 5) the relationship between environmental sustainability, ethics and war; 6) Carl von Clausewitz's view on the war, strategy and victory; and 7) the role of language in preserving and perpetuating sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The edition also includes three book reviews.

Download English (PDF, 85 pages, 6.30 MB)

Author  Andrew J Duncan, Tony Balasevicius, Patrick Chartrand, Frédéric Harvey, Étienne Tremblay, Éric Ouellet, Andrew Fraser, Dominik Pudo, Jake Galuga, Peter Denton, Bill Bentley, Gerson Flor (Editor: David L Bashow)

Series  Canadian Military Journal (CMJ)Issue3

Publisher Canadian Military Journal (CMJ)

Copyright© 2017 Canadian Military Journal (CMJ)

A Cultural Failure: US Special Operations in the Philippines and the Rise of the Islamic State

19 Jul 2017

By Cole Livieratos for War on the Rocks

In May, militants linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) seized a city of over 200,000 people in the Southern Philippines. For Cole Livieratos, this development was not just a major failure for US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). He argues it also highlighted a significant problem in the culture of the US’ special operations community, which gives too much priority to combat operations at the expense of necessary information programs.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 July 2017.

In mid-May, hundreds of fighters linked to the Maute group seized Marawi, a city of over 200,000 people on the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines, while fighting under the black flags of the Islamic State. The Maute group is thought to be part of the Khilafah Islamiya Movement, one of several separatist Islamist groups in the Southern Philippines (including Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), that has been fighting the Philippine government and security forces for years.

While U.S. special operations forces rejoin the active fightagainst these separatist groups, several media outlets have argued that the Islamic State’s encroachment into the Philippines is a result of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s negligence toward countering extremism because of his focus on persecuting a violent drug war. After serving in the Philippines from 2015 to 2016, I offer a different interpretation: The rise of the Islamic State in the Philippines represents a major failure for Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which failed to contain the spread of the Islamic State and violent extremism around the globe, one of its primary missions.

The potential for the Islamic State to gain a significant foothold in the Philippines was known to both American and Philippine security forces as early as 2014. In 2015, I began serving as the leader of the Military Information Support Team in the Philippines, a group deployed under SOCPAC to combat radicalization and recruitment to violent extremist organizations. We sought to do this through informational programs across all types of media: radio, television, social media, and even education. At that time, it was clear the Islamic State’s ideology and global appeal were beginning to attract Islamist groups in Mindanao.

Part of the special operations mission in the Philippines, as it is around the globe, was to prevent a formal link between local Islamist groups and the Islamic State from developing. As the events in Marawi show, special operations forces partially failed in its mission. The failure is intricately linked to how the U.S. military conceives of war — a problem not limited to the special operations community, but one that it is supposedly designed to avoid. The military tendency to use violent means instead of informational or developmental ones permeates SOCOM as well. The misalignment between the goal of preventing the appeal and spread of an ideology and the improper means to accomplish this is the product of two separate but related factors: First, an organizational culture predisposed toward combat and violent action; and second, a perceived high cost to using informational tools.

Certain conventional military forces or special operations units like Army Rangers can succeed with an organizational culture that emphasizes violence of action. However, special operations teams mostly comprised of Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and Marine Special Operations (MARSOC) are today deployed to non-combat locations throughout the globewith missions ranging from counter-terrorism to humanitarian assistance. Combat-oriented operations, to include tactical training of indigenous forces, are simply not the proper means to accomplish many of these missions. The organizational culture of SOCOM resulting in this ends-means discrepancy is a product of three main factors: The changing role of Special Forces since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the insistence on immediate and quantifiable results at all levels of command; and special operations organizational structures (including career progression and professional military education). Compounding this organizational culture is public scrutiny that is often more severe for failed information operations than for failed combat operations.

I do not write this article as an indictment of any specific leader, unit, or organization. It is about the broader forces that have produced strategic choices that are ultimately not proving successful. It is also not an argument that branches like Military Information Support Operations, Civil Affairs, or any other are a panacea that can always lead to success. In no way do I argue that Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and MARSOC are any less important to global special operations missions. Indeed, their unique capabilities remain essential to the country, not only in the fight against violent extremism but also against near-peer and spoiler state actors.

Special Operations in the Philippines

Terrorism is the culmination of a radicalization process grounded in psychological, sociological, economic, cultural, and religious factors. Yet Special Operations Command subordinates efforts to address those “upstream” factors — known as countering violent extremism (CVE) — to “hard” counter-terrorism, which includes direct action and training partnered forces to do the same. This has implications not only for resources and funding, but also because of the type of special operations forces aligned to each mission. Special Forces and SEALs tend to be selected to lead missions with a counterterrorism label (which are the majority of global SOCOM missions). Those units that focus more on civilian populations and the broader political environment — such as the team that I led, or civil affairs teams — are considered “enablers” for their Special Forces and SEAL counterparts (as my bosses often reminded me). Such a view may be appropriate for a combat mission in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it is misconstrued when waging broader ideological, psychological, and political struggles in non-combat environments.

My team, composed of fewer than half a dozen members, was charged with planning and executing nationwide programs to counter and prevent violent extremism. Given the many separatist Islamic organizations in the Southern Philippines, we had our work cut out for us. While we managed several long-running programs, we were met with barriers at every turn when trying to expand or create new programs.

For example, we spent months developing one specific program aimed at countering the Islamic State’s appeal in the Philippines by improving the sophistication and reach of pro-government and anti-Islamic State messaging from our partners. Unfortunately, we were unable to gain approval to execute the program. The program was simply not a high enough priority to receive the meager resources or funding we requested (less than $50,000 per year). My small team of “enablers” fought for an additional member to focus on countering extremist messaging on social media to no avail. We watched while other elements of our force, who were focused on tactical of training Philippine security forces, increased, despite the fact that this only focused on “hard” counter-terrorism and did not address the “upstream” factors that allowed the Islamic State to gain a foothold in the Philippines in the first place. By how they chose to allocate their resources and focus their efforts, my leaders in the Philippines and at SOCPAC signaled their priorities — informational programs to slow the spread of a toxic group before they set down roots in the Philippines and advanced their violent agenda was not one of them. This is not to say our program would have stopped the Islamic State’s encroachment into Mindanao. I only use the example to highlight how the broader strategy does not properly align means with ends.

To help understand the reasons for this, we have to look at the culture of the U.S. special operations community and external variables that may make commanders more reluctant to prioritize the use of informational tools. This culture is the result of three factors.

The Changing Role of Special Forces After 9/11

Special Forces, comprising most of the Army’s special operators, are largely built to train indigenous forces. The specific types of missions Special Forces are designed for vary (such as foreign internal defense and unconventional warfare), but they are primarily designed to work with indigenous forces rather than simply serve as a direct-action force. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the roles of Special Forces and conventional forces practically reversed: Conventional became primarily responsible for the training and advising of Iraqi and Afghan security forces while Special Forces largely focused on finding and then either killing or capturing the enemy and its commanders. The reversal can be attributed to the precision with which Special Forces soldiers could execute a difficult mission, an essential part of counter-insurgency. However, executing direct-action for over a decade of warfare necessarily results in changes to training, resourcing, recruiting, and organizational preferences. America’s Special Forces are now more likely to emphasize violent operations than they have before. This problem is compounded by the fact that overall deference from political leaders to military leaders has increased dramatically after 9/11, implicitly reaffirming conceptions of how war should be waged in the modern era.

The Demand for Immediate Results

Individual special operations teams are often named “detachments” because they were originally conceived as groups that could operate autonomously for extended periods of time, effectively “detached” from the larger unit or organization. Unfortunately, a broad cultural shift toward instant gratification has permeated the special operations community as well. For deployed teams, this manifests as excessive and redundant reports to various commands that both consume precious time and give all types of special operations forces less autonomy to execute missions how they see fit. Such requirements are especially an anathema to those who execute civil affairs and military information support operations. These programs are often designed to have long-term results rather than immediate impact. Resulting from this is difficulty in justifying increased informational or developmental programming, however inexpensive, because their effects may not be fully realized until well after the program has ended. It is important to note that just because programs do not demonstrate immediate results, that does not mean they can’t achieve measurable results. If a desired behavior change takes months or years to realize, though, programs are often not funded to properly capture these changes after the year-long contract has ended.

Organizational Structure

A cursory examination of the structure of any deployed special operations team reveals the organization’s priorities. The vast majority of deployed team members are Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or MARSOC. Leadership positions from the team leader to theater commander desk officers to operations officers are usually filled by these branches as well. These leaders are not opposed to information operations or development projects, but they rarely fully understand or prioritize such operations over those that rely on their own “tribe.” Leadership also largely determines resource allocations and deployment length, both of which limit forces focused on information and development projects. The mandated six-month deployment cycle for all special operations forces limits efforts to build long-term relationships, gain nuanced understandings of local security dynamics, and develop and execute programs that last longer than six months. Special operations leadership doggedly believes that these short deployments do not constrain units and are necessary to maintaining a stretched force, but long-term success cannot be achieved with such frequent turnover. As with other branches of the military, leaders who do not rock the boat and strongly challenge this thinking are the ones to progress in their careers. In the Army, officers from all special operations branches may be promoted at the same rate, but the overwhelming numbers of Special Forces officers ensures they will fill most staff and leadership billets over Civil Affairs and Military Information Support Operations officers, whose careers cannot move beyond colonel. For an organization that values diversity and different perspectives, career paths and unit organization remain surprisingly rigid.

The Perceived High Cost of Conducting Information Operations

Along with organizational culture produced by the above factors, SOCOM leaders perceive the cost of failed information operations to be higher than failed combat operations. The military maintains a monopoly on the use of force abroad. This monopoly does not stop journalists and academics from criticizing a failed combat operation or highlighting civilian casualties, but the public readily accepts that this is an integral part of warfare. However, no such monopoly exists over the “marketplace of ideas.” When the military attempts to execute information operations, it opens itself to challenges from professionals whose careers are built in the stock and trade of information: journalists, academics, public affairs professionals, diplomats, and politicians. Commanders of deployed special operations teams can explain a failed raid, but they do not want to be accused of an “attack on truth” or “profoundly undemocratic program[s] devoted to spreading disinformation.” Though such categorizations are usually misguided, they raise the apparent cost for special operations leaders to use information operations. The evidence could not be clearer, as the approval to drop a bomb on a pre-planned target in Iraq and Syria has been delegated below the brigadier general level but a major general needs to approve an information operation. And if the operation is to be carried out via social media, the Pentagon needs to sign off.

Moving Beyond the Philippines

The failure of special operations forces to enact a strategy that correctly aligns means with ends is evident in the rise of the Islamic State in the Philippines, but the implications are much broader than countering violent extremism in Mindanao. Similar strategic misalignment is evident in SOCOM’s attempts to stop the Islamic State around the globe. Perhaps more importantly, U.S. special operations are not investing in the proper tools to combat current and future threats from major state actors like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. As Russia’s influence campaign against the U.S. presidential election in 2016 demonstrated, the line between war and peace has all but disappeared and the “battlefield” for many future conflicts will be informational rather than physical. With threats from the information domain likely to increase as advanced communications technologies and social media continue to pervade Western society, it does not make strategic sense for forces like Military Information Support Operations to remain a fraction of the size of Special Forces and be viewed as “enablers.”

Changing Special Operations Culture

SOCOM needs to change its organizational structure and culture to bring ends and means into strategic alignment. The ratio of Special Forces to non-Special Forces soldiers within the Army’s Special Operations Command should not stay as high as it is. If they are to be successful, Military Information Support Operations and Civil Affairs need more manpower and funding. An increased budget should not just be used for more operations, but also to increase the quality of training incoming Military Information Support Operations and Civil Affairs soldiers receive (especially when it comes to measuring and reporting on program measures of effectiveness). With a greater number of non-Special Forces officers and senior NCOs, leadership and staff positions throughout Special Operations Command should be more evenly distributed between the various special operations branches. It is not necessary for a Military Information Support Operations officer to be a Special Forces company commander or vice-versa, but deployed special operations team leaders through commanders of Theater Special Operations Commands should not remain almost exclusively Special Forces, SEAL, and MARSOC. Before filling leadership and staff roles within Special Operations Command, all officers and senior-NCOs should be required to complete a course or training to help them more fully understand the utility of the other special operations branches. Though this should already be the case in theory, rare is the Green Beret or SEAL who fully understands or appreciates information operations.

One final change necessary for special operations forces’ future strategic success: Ending the mandatory six-month deployment cycles. The policy was originally instituted with the noble intent to decrease the length of combat deployments, but the frequent turnover of teams, inability to understand the nuances of the operating environment, and surface-level relationship building is unproductive at best, and more often counter-productive. Such a shift could change the entire way special operations careers are envisioned (possibly by mandating non-combat tours that last over a year), but the current deployment cycle is not positioning special operations forces to succeed in asymmetric conflicts against violent extremist groups and rival state actors alike.


For the time being, Special Forces, SEALs, and MARSOC will train and advise Philippine Security Forces in tactical missions as they attempt to recapture Marawi and physically push the Islamic State out of the city. It is likely that the aforementioned forces will succeed in its tactical missions and will probably mount successful operations to counter the Islamic State in the short-term. But with its current priorities and organization, Special Operations Command is not positioned to defeat the Islamic State because it does not prioritize operations to limit the Islamic State’s global appeal. Without changing its organizational culture and recognizing how outside criticism of information operations has impacted leaders’ willingness to employ these tools, strategic success will continue to evade SOCOM.  Such a failure in the Philippines may not directly threaten American security, but the misalignment of means and ends will limit U.S. Special Operations Command’s ability to challenge more powerful global adversaries.

About the Author

Cole Livieratos is currently pursuing a PhD in International Relations at Georgetown University.  He is a US Army officer in Military Information Support Operations and has three deployments with infantry and Special Operations units

The South China Sea seven years on


19 July 2017

Author: Michael McDevitt, CNA

This month seven years ago at the Hanoi ASEAN Regional Forum, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a very public, and — for the Chinese — surprising, intervention into the South China Sea (SCS) disputes. This move implicated Washington in a way that was probably unforeseen in Washington and in the region at the time.

While the objective of the Clinton statement was to indicate that peace and stability in the SCS was a US interest, in hindsight, by choosing to be so publically involved — over time exhorting   China to play by the rules; stop building and militarising islands; and abide by the Permanent Court of Arbitration findings — Washington found itself trying to shape Chinese SCS activity with absolutely no practical leverage (short of the use of force or imposition of trade or economic penalties — actions Washington was correctly unwilling to countenance).

Beijing ignored US exhortations and essentially told Washington to mind its own business. In Beijing’s view, Washington was involving itself in a matter of Chinese sovereignty and security. Beijing is convinced that all the land features in the SCS and, at a minimum, the maritime entitlements appertaining to them, are Chinese territory.

Beijing has been waging a patient long-term campaign to regain these claimed maritime rights and interests. For six decades since the 1950s when Beijing occupied abandoned Nationalist Chinese islands in the eastern Paracels, China has inexorably collected islands, rocks and other features in the SCS through the combined use of force, coercion and occupation. Turning its seven small and long-occupied toeholds in the Spratly Islands into major military facilities is just the latest manifestation of this long-term strategic objective.

Beyond recovering ‘lost sovereign territory’, the defence of China is also directly related to control of the land features in the SCS. Bases in the Paracels and Spratlys provide strategic depth for an enemy planning to attack China via the SCS. Hainan is especially important to the People’s Liberation Army since Beijing has decided to homeport its growing ballistic missile submarine force at the southern end of that island.

China is also hugely dependent on the maritime trade routes that pass to the west of the Spratlys, including trade associated with the much-touted 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Controlling these islands is the best way for China to make certain no-one else does. Now with three large, newly constructed airfields, it will be able to conduct routine airborne surveillance of its SCS maritime approaches, along with much of Southeast Asia.

So, seven years on, where are we today? What has US policy aimed at moderating China’s SCS behaviour accomplished, and what is the way forward?

First, the United States played an indirect but important role in advocating Manila’s decision to go to the Permanent Court of Arbitration over Chinese claims and actions in the SCS. Although Beijing has so far refused to honour the ruling, it provided clarity to a number of the ambiguities in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that pertain directly to the SCS, while driving a legal stake into the heart of Beijing’s historic rights claim. Beijing is now permanently burdened with an extremely adverse legal opinion.

Second, no vital US interest has been compromised. Shipping continues uninterrupted, while the United States ignores (daily, if you believe the Chinese complaints) its requirement for prior approval for military operations in China’s exclusive economic zone. The US Navy and Air Force continues to sail, fly and operate where international law permits: an important signal of national policy intentions and military deterrence that more nations should adopt.

Third, the US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with Manila remains in force and China has not attempted to test it by shedding Filipino blood.. The Vietnamese are even more dug in on their 25-odd Spratly holdings and show no interest in decamping. Rather, Hanoi is adding extra military capabilities to make Beijing think twice before trying to force them out. In short, a more or less credible deterrent is in place to thwart an attempt to push either the Vietnamese or the Filipinos off their Spratly holdings.

What’s more, in the wake of the Permanent Court of Arbitration award, Beijing had to swallow its pride and embrace the blatantly opportunistic ploy that Filipino President Duterte pulled, which allowed Beijing to save face in return for Chinese loans. Duterte now has the big infrastructure loan promises he desired and still has the MDT in his back pocket. The fact that Duterte is hanging on to the MDT is the best example that a positive security relationship with Washington is still a valued commodity in Southeast Asia, as is the recent visit of the Vietnamese prime minister to Washington in May.

In sum, while Beijing’s objective to gain control of all the Spratlys has not been forsworn, it has likely been delayed. Despite having permanently shifted the Spratly military balance in its own favour, China still faces the problem of how get the other claimants off their Spratly holdings without starting a war.

US policy has caused an international spotlight to be pointed at the SCS, raising doubts and apprehensions around the globe regarding China’s future behaviour. Given the very poor hand Washington had to play, this is likely the best possible outcome that could have been achieved peacefully. The Trump administration would be wise to continue to keep the SCS dispute in proper perspective to other more important interests and issues that Washington has with Beijing.

 Michael McDevitt is Senior Fellow in Strategic Studies at the CNA Corporation

Full text of Chinese state councilor's article on Xi Jinping's Diplomacy Thought

| 2017-07-19 15:56:06|Editor: ZD

BEIJING, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor and Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Leading Group Yang Jiechi has published an article titled "Study and Implement General Secretary Xi Jinping's Thought on Diplomacy in a Deep-going Way and Keep Writing New Chapters of Major-Country Diplomacy with Distinctive Chinese Features."

The following is the full text of the article:

Study and Implement General Secretary Xi Jinping's Thought on Diplomacy in a Deep-going Way and Keep Writing New Chapters of Major-Country Diplomacy with Distinctive Chinese Features


Yang Jiechi

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has, with great foresight and a comprehensive perspective, reflected deeply on the future and destiny of mankind as well as the general development trend of China and the whole world. Inspired by the two centenary goals (namely to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC in 2021 and to turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by the centenary of the People's Republic of China in 2049) and the Chinese dream of national renewal, the Central Party Committee has broken new ground in both diplomatic theory and practice while maintaining consistency and continuity of China's foreign policy. It has put forward new ideas and propositions with distinctive Chinese features that embody the call of our times and envision greater human progress. It is on this basis that General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy has been formed and established. General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy represents the CPC Central Committee's new governing philosophy and strategy as they apply to diplomacy and is an integral part of the theories of socialism with distinctive Chinese features. It is a vision that has greatly enriched and taken forward the diplomatic thinking and strategy of New China and will have extremely important and far-reaching significance in steering China's endeavor to keep pace with the times and make new progress in external work.


Diplomacy is an essential part of the overall work of the Party and the State. At a time when China's relations with the rest of the world are undergoing profound changes and the Chinese nation has entered a crucial stage of achieving renewal, General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy addresses new issues facing China's diplomacy with a Marxist position, viewpoints and approaches. It answers key questions such as what is major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features and how to conduct it, and defines the guiding philosophy, basic principles, key tasks, strategies and tactics, and institutional arrangements of conducting external work in a new era. General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy is a comprehensive and profound system of theories with rich connotations.

1. Setting strategic goals and key missions for China's external work in a new era. Based on his assessment of the global trend and the historical stage China has reached, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out in explicit terms that we are closer than ever to the center of the global stage, that we are closer than ever to fulfilling the Chinese dream of national renewal and that we are more confident and able than ever to realize this goal. General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed the following: In pursuing diplomacy, China will stay committed to peace, development and win-win cooperation, take into account both domestic and international situation and ensure both development and security. We will stay committed to peaceful development, resolutely uphold sovereignty, security and development interests and preserve and extend the major period of strategic opportunity for China's development so as to pave the way for achieving the two centenary goals and fulfilling the Chinese dream of national renewal. These important statements which expound on the nature, objectives and missions of China's diplomacy are a fundamental guide to the conduct of China's external relations.

2. Boosting confidence in China as a major socialist country with distinctive Chinese features. General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized that the whole Party should have firm confidence in the path, theories, system and culture of socialism with distinctive Chinese features. The Chinese Communists and Chinese people are fully confident of offering Chinese input to human exploration of better social systems. Since the 18th Party Congress, China has overcome many difficulties and challenges on the diplomatic front, forged ahead in a changing international environment, and made outstanding achievements. It has been proven that socialism with distinctive Chinese features represents the biggest strength, the most salient characteristic and the greatest opportunity of China's external affairs. Having full confidence in the path, theories, system and culture of socialism with distinctive Chinese features underpins and drives China's external work, and ensures its success.

3. Laying out a great vision of building a community of shared future for mankind. With a keen sense of responsibility for the whole mankind and with the historical advance of the human society in mind, General Secretary Xi Jinping shows a deep understanding of the trend of the times and future of mankind. On this basis, he calls for building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and jointly fostering a community of shared future for mankind. By pointing out the direction and drawing a blueprint for the international community to achieve enduring peace, common development and sustained prosperity, this call represents China's global vision of pursuing both its own development and the development of the world, and demonstrates that China is ready to shoulder its responsibility as a major country. It therefore displays strong appeal, influence and vitality. Since the 18th Party Congress, China has championed this call at important multilateral forums like the United Nations and the World Economic Forum. In conducting external exchanges, China has followed the principle of seeking win-win outcomes and taken steps to achieve the long-term goal of building a community of shared future for mankind. China's endeavors have thus been well received and supported by the international community.

4. Pursuing all-round diplomacy to build a global network of partnerships. With the vision and strategic thinking of an outstanding statesman and strategist, General Secretary Xi Jinping has laid out an overarching plan for conducting China's external work. To this end, he has made vigorous efforts himself to visit various countries across the five continents and major organizations of regional and international cooperation. During these visits, General Secretary Xi Jinping engaged fully with foreign leaders, public figures and ordinary people. By citing touching examples of China's win-win cooperation with other countries and people-to-people friendship, he stressed the need for all countries and peoples to forge partnerships in pursuing a shared bright future. Since the 18th Party Congress, China has fully advanced its friendly relations with other countries, with neighboring countries and major countries being the priority of this pursuit, other developing countries serving as its foundation, and multilateral settings as its platform. We have deepened practical cooperation, enhanced mutual political trust, garnered popular support and improved institution building for this endeavor. China has boosted its all-round, wide-ranging and multi-tiered external exchanges, and China's circle of friends has covered the whole world.

5. Pursuing a new round of opening-up featuring the Belt and Road Initiative. Based on a keen appreciation of new dynamics in China's internal and external environment, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road). This initiative aims to further advance China's opening-up and share China's development opportunities with other countries, and it will inject strong impetus into global development. Over the past four years since it was launched, the Belt and Road Initiative has been translated into action and delivered concrete outcomes. As a matter of fact, it has developed into an open and inclusive platform of international cooperation and a widely-welcomed public good for the global community. Over 100 countries and international organizations have expressed support for or participated in the initiative, and many landmark projects with wide impact have been launched. The complementarity between China's development strategy and those of many other countries has been enhanced and fast progress has been made in scaling up infrastructural connectivity. China has recently hosted a successful and productive Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, creating more momentum for jointly pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative.

6. Demonstrating China's resolve to uphold its sovereignty and security interests. General Secretary Xi Jinping has unequivocally stated that China stays committed to peaceful development. China does not covet the rights and interests of other countries. Meanwhile, it will never give up its legitimate rights and interests. No country should ever expect China to trade off its core interests or swallow the bitter fruit that undermines its sovereignty, security and development interests. This is what we say, and also what we do. Since the 18th Party Congress, we have particularly staked out our positions on Taiwan, the South China Seaand other issues concerning China's major core interests. We have drawn a clear line of what is unacceptable, and acted forcefully to defend our core interests as well as legitimate rights. All this has greatly boosted the morale of the Party, the military and the general public and won international respect.

7. Exploring new approach to and practice of global governance. General Secretary Xi Jinping has tapped into the rich heritage of governance philosophy and wisdom unique to Chinese culture that is relevant today and given full expression to the shared aspirations of both the Chinese people and the people around the world. In response to major issues and challenges confronting global governance, General Secretary Xi Jinping has put forth a series of new propositions on global governance, security, development, justice, interests and globalization which are aimed at promoting a global governance system that is fairer, more equitable, inclusive and balanced. Since the 18th Party Congress, China has hosted the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing and the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, and taken part in many major multilateral diplomatic events. Through such active participation to help steer the global governance process, China has offered its vision and input for reforming and improving the global governance system and establishing a fairer and more equitable international order.

8. Exercising overall leadership by the Central Party Committee over China's external work. General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed that the Party's role is central to running China's affairs well. The leadership by the Communist Party of China is both the defining feature and the biggest strength of socialism with Chinese characteristics. What is more, such leadership enables us to cope with internal and external challenges. Since the 18th Party Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has exercised overall leadership over the conduct of China's external work. It has further enhanced the role of the Central Foreign Affairs Leading Group and convened a meeting on neighborhood diplomacy and a central conference on work relating to foreign affairs to improve top-level design, strategic planning and coordination on external affairs. It has adopted and improved major regulations on foreign affairs management, advanced institutional reforms on external work and coordinated efforts of various departments and regions to form synergy. All these endeavors have provided powerful political support for us to overcome difficulties and forge ahead in external work.


General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy is an important component of the new governance philosophy and strategies developed by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. It provides a solid theoretical foundation for and guidance to conducting China's diplomacy in the new era. To study and achieve a deep understanding of General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy is an important political task for all of us in conducting China's foreign affairs and diplomacy. It is also a very important guide to us in conducting a systematic review of the achievements and experience of China's external work since the 18th Party Congress and in making new progress in external affairs. Wide-ranging in coverage, rich and profound in connotation, General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy serves as a comprehensive and systematic guidance to the external work of the Party and the State. We should focus on the following four aspects in our efforts to gain a deep understanding of General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy:

1. We should have a keen appreciation of the sense of mission underlying General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy. Demonstrating a strong sense of historical mission and extraordinary political vision, General Secretary Xi Jinping has led us on the Long March of our generation toward the two centenary goals and the realization of the Chinese dream of national renewal. General Secretary Xi Jinping, bearing in mind the responsibility of the leader of a big country, has reflected deeply on the critical issue of what kind of a world we should build and how to build it, an issue that concerns the future of mankind. He has offered China's contribution and input to this endeavor. Since the 18th Party Congress, China has, as its capability permits, undertaken more international responsibilities and obligations. It has fully participated in international peacekeeping missions, played its part in meeting global challenges such as climate change and addressing major regional hotspot issues, and offered global public goods, particularly in the form of the Belt and Road Initiative. China has thus made an important contribution to advancing world peace and development.

2. We should have a keen appreciation of the profound significance of General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy to our times. With an incisive grasp of the growing interdependence among countries and recognizing the need to adapt to and sustain the trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation in our times, General Secretary Xi Jinping has set forth the important vision of building a new type of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind. He calls for making economic globalization a more open, inclusive and balanced process that delivers win-win outcomes to all. He also calls for building a global governance system that reflects well the changing reality of balance of forces in the world. His vision has thus set the direction and pathways to address thorny issues facing mankind such as deficit in peace, development and governance. General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy, formed and developed as China's relationship with the world is going through historic changes, bears a distinctive feature of our times and has great current and historical significance.

3. We should have a keen appreciation of the spirit of innovation embodied in General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy. General Secretary Xi Jinping views reform and opening-up as the defining feature of contemporary China. He has integrated the underlying principles of Marxism with the realities of present-day China, and he is bold in breaking new ground in both theory and practice. General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy builds on past success and is forward-looking in nature. Having drawn on China's fine cultural and philosophical tradition, it has enriched and taken forward the diplomatic thinking and strategy of New China, thus creating a system of theories of major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features. Bearing in mind both China's own development and the world's common development and drawing inspiration from the ancient Silk Road, General Secretary Xi Jinping creatively put forward the Initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, thus building a new platform for China to share development opportunities with the world and developing a new model for international cooperation. The new thinking articulated by General Secretary Xi Jinping, such as upholding justice and pursuing shared interests, a new vision of security and a new vision of global governance, has provided theoretical guidance for countries to reject the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game in favor of peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation.

4. We should have a keen appreciation of the strategic wisdom underpinning General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy. General Secretary Xi Jinping has always observed the prevailing trend in a strategic context and made strategic decisions accordingly. He has made a profound analysis of external opportunities and challenges facing China, taken into account both China's domestic and international interests, and attached importance to both development and security. On this basis, he has advanced China's external work in a well-planned and coordinated way on various fronts, such as relations with other major countries, the neighboring countries and other developing countries as well as multilateral diplomacy. General Secretary Xi Jinping has put forth a whole range of principles guiding China's diplomatic strategy and policies. He places high importance not just on top-level designing and strategic planning, but also on operations and policy moves. He is thus able to address core issues like pulling an ox by its nose and ensure good coordination among various fronts as a good pianist does with ten fingers, achieving a high degree of balance between firm commitment to principles and appropriate flexibility in policy implementation. Guided by General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy, China has become more confident in pursuing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, fully demonstrating its distinctive vision, style and way of conduct as a major country. As a result, China has secured a favorable strategic position in the complex and fluid international arena.

We should fully appreciate the great political, theoretical, practical and methodological significance of General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy. We should, with a keen sense of mission, responsibility, purpose and commitment, work hard to study this thinking and implement it earnestly, systematically and thoroughly. We should strive to gain a deep understanding of the essence and core of this thinking, so that it will become a powerful source of inspiration and strength that guides us in conducting major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features.


The world is now at a stage of major development, transformation and adjustment, and China's diplomacy is faced with both unprecedented opportunities and challenges. We must be fully aware of the need to uphold political integrity, keep in mind the bigger picture, follow the leadership core, and meet Party requirements. We must stay true to our ideal and mission and fulfill our responsibility. We must purposefully follow the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core theoretically, politically and in practice, and fully implement General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy. This will enable us to make new progress in conducting China's external work, foster favorable external conditions for achieving the two centenary goals and realizing the Chinese dream of national renewal, and continuously make important contribution to the cause of peace and development for mankind.

1. We should strengthen strategic planning for foreign affairs to accomplish the central task of the Party and the State. We should have an accurate assessment of international situation and overall trend of world affairs, stay committed to peaceful development and national renewal as the theme of China's external work in the new era. We should take into account both our domestic and international interests, and adhere to the general principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability. We should explore new theory and practice in conducting major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features, and consolidate and enhance China's favorable strategic position. Doing so will enable us both to ensure reform, development and stability at home and make new progress in pursuing major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features.

2. We should foster a more peaceful and stable external environment by pursuing an all-round diplomatic agenda. We will continue to enhance friendship and cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and work to build a global network of partnerships. We should strengthen coordination and cooperation with other major countries, continuously expand areas where our respective interests converge and put in place a generally stable framework of major-country relationship. We should stay committed to the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, enhance friendship and cooperation with our neighbors, and work to consolidate strategic support in the neighborhood area. We should foster friendship, uphold justice, and pursue shared interests to further enrich South-South cooperation and strengthen mutual trust, solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries.

3. We should take solid steps in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative and break new ground in opening-up. We should take the opportunity of the successful Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to implement its consensus and outcomes in accordance with the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We should continue to pursue the strategy of win-win cooperation and opening-up and embrace the world in a more extensive and diversified way. We should actively uphold the multilateral trade regime as the main channel, promote international trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, oppose protectionism in all its forms and endeavor to build an open global economy.

4. We should get fully involved in global governance and promote the establishment of a fairer and more equitable international political and economic order. We should champion and apply a new vision of global governance, uphold the core role of the United Nations as the main channel in addressing issues relating to international peace and security, follow through on the agreements reached at the G20 Hangzhou Summit, Hamburg Summit and the previous summits, and support APEC and other major global and regional cooperation organizations in playing a positive role. These efforts are designed to make the international order and system fairer and more equitable. We should enhance the BRICS mechanism and make the upcoming BRICS Xiamen Summit a success; and we should ensure that emerging markets and developing countries will have a greater say in the international governance system.

5. We should be on high alert against potential danger and effectively uphold China's sovereignty, security and development interests. Upholding core national interests is the noble mission of China's diplomacy. We will continue to uphold China's national interests as the starting point and basic goal of China's external work, and be firm in defending China's territorial sovereignty and legitimate maritime rights and interests. We will stay committed to the one-China principle, firmly oppose and fight against any separatist attempt for Taiwan independence and strive for China's reunification. We should enhance international cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyberspace and law enforcement to uphold and strengthen national security. We should put in place an efficient and well-functioning system to protect China's overseas interests and improve it to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals and enterprises overseas.

6. We should actively communicate China's policies to the world and conduct public diplomacy to enhance China's moral appeal. We should enhance confidence in the path, theories, system and culture of socialism with distinctive Chinese features, and share our governance experience with other countries. We should give a good account of the theory and guidelines of socialism with distinctive Chinese features. We should endeavor to let the world know more about the profound connotations of China's policy of pursuing peaceful development and its vision of building a community of shared future for mankind. We should actively put forth new thinking, initiatives and plans aimed at resolving hotspot issues as China fulfills its role as a major responsible country. We should encourage dialogue among civilizations and social and cultural exchanges so that the Chinese dream and the dreams of other peoples will be pursued and realized together.

China has reached a new starting point, shouldering a new historic mission in conducting its diplomacy. We will rally even more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and study and implement General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy in a deep-going way. We will forge ahead and keep writing new chapters of major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features, greet the successful convocation of the 19th Party Congress with even more diplomatic accomplishments, and make even greater contribution to realizing the two centenary goals and the Chinese dream of national renewal