Tuesday, June 21, 2011

China and Pakistan: Dangerous Liaisons

Pakistan’s relation with the US has been marked by an unprecedented low post the elimination of Osama Bin Laden in a US commando operation inside Pakistan. Amid these moments, Pakistan’s “time-tested and all-weather friend” China has been continuously expressing support for the country. Pakistan PM Yusuf Raza Gilani’s four-day official visit to China from May 17 to May 20 was a crucial event post the killing of Osama Bin Laden. On 17 May 2011, Beijing expressed its “unswervingly” support to Pakistan in its efforts to counter terrorism. The timing and nature of these words were intended to send a strong message to powers like the US and India.

During the visit, China agreed to expedite the delivery of 50 JF-17 fighter aircrafts, fully funded by China to boost Pakistan’s defence capability. Further negotiations are being undertaken for the supply of Chinese J-20 Stealth fighter and Xiaolong/FC-1 multi-purpose light fighter aircraft to Pakistan. This is yet another testament of the ever growing and strengthening alliance between China and Pakistan.

Following the visit, Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar stated that Pakistan would be grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base was constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan. China has a penchant for undertaking strategic moves surreptitiously and the naval base issue spilling out in public seemed to have embarrassed the Chinese government. Beijing unequivocally responded that the “issue was not touched upon.” Most of the aspects of Sino-Pak strategic cooperation materialize behind closed doors; therefore it becomes difficult to infer the exact nature and magnitude of their nexus.

The Sino-Pak cooperation is proving to be an imminent threat for India, even though the government tends to downplay it to a certain extent. But, it seems that the government is finally waking up to the threat. Recently India’s Defence Minister AK Antony while replying to a press question on the JF-17 deal between China and Pak said “It is a matter of serious concern for us. The main thing is, we have to increase our capability, that is the only answer”. India and China’s economic cooperation is on the rise, owing to which, many believe that the mutual dependencies between them is likely to keep a conflict at bay. However, while the economies flourish and there is stability in the strategic sphere, the undercurrents of suspicion and dilemma continue to affect the relations at the tactical front. The level of mistrust between India and China continues to be reinforced by the Chinese moves of constructing dams on the river Brahmaputra in Tibet. Many experts believe that the dams could reduce the flow of water in the river as it enters India. In addition China’s changing stance on Jammu and Kashmir, the issue of stapled visas, assistance in nuclear materials to Pakistan and its growing footprints in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) have kept Sino-India relations on tenterhooks. Chinese activities are posing considerable challenges not only along the LAC but also along the LoC with Pakistan. PoK is of immense strategic importance owing to its location. The Chinese continue to make inroads into the PoK region in order to gain strategic influence over the Islamic countries of West and Central Asia . It is important to note that the area of Indian Kashmir is 101,437 sq kms and the Kashmir area under Pakistan and China is 120,799 sq kms.

Reports about the presence of 11,000 Chinese construction workers and PLA combat engineers in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) tends to emerge periodically but no concrete moves are being undertaken to counter this rising threat. Pakistan seems to have outsourced the area of Gilgit-Baltistan to China for “developmental activities.” In May 2011, Indian intelligence agencies confirmed that the many hundreds of Chinese working in PoK are actually People's Liberation Army (PLA) engineers. They continue to verify whether the engineers are engaged in any type of military construction like bunkers. Such developments reinforce the Chinese pattern of using Pakistan in order to secure its interests in the region. Reports in the Pakistan media state that few deals (like a $2.2 billion Pakistan Steel with Metallurgical Corporation of China MCC) are non-transparent and Chinese companies are given contracts without open bidding.

As reported in The Hindu, the Government of Pakistan has allowed Chinese companies to take up construction work for large-scale power generation and tap power from the Jhelum and Neelum rivers. China is also involved in the widening of roads such as the Neelam Valley Roads (from Muzaffarabad to Athmuqam) and the Tariqabad Bypass (Eastern). It is also engaged in the construction of the Naluchi Bypass (Western) near Muzzafarabad. A major project also includes a Pakistan Rupee (PKR) 185.60 billion Neelum-Jhelum tunnel, which is being constructed by the China International Water and Electric Corporation (CIWEC). Through developmental projects, China is strengthening its alliance with Pakistan and gaining strategic influence in the region.

Another ambitious collaborated project by China and Pakistan is the laying of cross border Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) system at a cost of PKR 10 million between Pakistan and China for secure communications. The project would be funded out of a Chinese soft loan and consists of laying 820 km of OFC along the Karakoram Highway, from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab Pass (Chinese border via Mansehra, Chilas, Danyore (Gilgit), Karimabad and Sust). These measures are possibly being undertaken to support PLA troops stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK. Basing troops requires supporting infrastructure, communication and logistics nodes to be established. The laying of OFC lines would further establish Chinese claim and presence over PoK.

An IDSA report titled, “PoK: Changing the discourse,” stated that, “If the current pace of Chinese penetration is sustained then China may completely take over Gilgit-Baltistan by the year 2020.” Though Pakistan has always been a pivot of Chinese foreign policy, especially in South Asia, its importance in China’s grand strategy is likely to rise further. As the Indo-US relations gain further strength, China is strengthening its strategic cooperation with Pakistan to counter this strategic relationship. It will continue to use Pakistan as a proxy against India to keep the latter boxed in South Asia.

Aditi Malhotra is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi



The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) SPECIAL REPORT

Samarjit Ghosh , Aditi Malhotra , and Rohit Singh

For the complete text of the report, visit the link below:


Taking stock of Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

The Fukushima Dai’chi nuclear plant continues to remain the focus of the world’s attention as workers grapple with the probable meltdown in the power plant. The nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant is a result of the earthquake, followed by the tsunami, which hit Japan on 11 March 2011, leading to massive human and infrastructure loss. The nuclear crisis is presently marked by three explosions in the Fukushima Dai’chi power plant (which consists of six boiling water reactors) after the cooling systems at different units failed, followed by the release of massive amounts of radioactive gas and food contamination. Over the years, Japan has become increasingly reliant on nuclear energy, though its nuclear safety record has not been very satisfactory and TEPCO, the organisation that constructed and operates the Fukushima Dai’chi plant, has had a checkered past as well. The country has seen some major nuclear accidents and subsequent cover-ups, leading to a degree of distrust among the Japanese public.

In 1999, an accident occurred at the Tokaimura plant when nuclear fuel was being prepared using enriched uranium; many workers were exposed to high levels of radiation in this accident. In 2004, at the Mihama Nuclear power plant, four workers were burnt to death and seven injured when a steam pipe burst in the non-radioactive part of the reactor. In 2002, the chairman and four other executives of TEPCO resigned, after they were suspected of having falsified safety records at TEPCO power stations. Additional instances of falsification were identified in 2006 and 2007.1 TEPCO is believed to have been involved in 29 cases related to damage in many parts of the reactor pressure vessel such as core shroud, jet pump, access hole cover, feed water spurger, on-core monitor housing and others. Consequently, the authorities had asserted the development of very high safety standards. The current nuclear crisis, however, belies these claims.

A question that comes up in the current context is the prudence of situating a nuclear power plant in low-lying land near the coast in proximity to a seismically unstable area. Some experts argue that the plant was placed near the coast primarily to use the seawater as coolant and dump the warmer water (post-cooling) in the sea. Another probable reason is the distance of these areas from densely populated regions. It is also important to note that the probability of a massive tsunami may not have been considered at the time when reactors at the Fukushima plant were being built between 1971 and 1979. New safety standards are not in consonance with the level of safety at Fukushima and the revision of seismic safety has been undertaken only three times in the past 35 years. Reportedly, TEPCO tested Units 1 and 2 for a magnitude of only 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Even more alarming is TEPCO’s track record with regard to the Fukushima plant. In 2006, the Japanese government ordered TEPCO to check past data after it reported finding falsification of coolant water temperatures at its Fukushima Daiichi plant in 1985 and 1988, and that the tweaked data was used in mandatory inspections at the plant, which were completed in October 2005.2 While carelessness or overlooking of nuclear safety has not resulted in the current nuclear disaster, it is rendering the crisis more unmanageable as days pass. In a recent report, TEPCO stated that during a scheduled inspection (2 weeks before the present disaster), it had failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment in the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex. The equipments so ignored included a motor and a backup power generator for Unit 1.3

Another issue with regard to the Fukushima crisis is the case of secrecy and the government’s inhibition in sharing information. While the nuclear emergency has been a cause of worldwide concern, public and international organisations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are becoming increasingly vocal about their frustration with the information delay. Many experts have stated that the Japanese authorities, particularly TEPCO, are downplaying the severity of the event, especially on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).4 Japan had rated the current crisis at scale 4 till March 18 and raised it to scale 5, which is lower in comparison to the IAEA rating of scale 6. The scale 6 level puts the Fukushima events in the league of the Mayak Nuclear Power plant explosion in the erstwhile USSR in 1957, which resulted in a radioactive cloud spreading over hundreds of miles and causing at least 200 cancer deaths.5

Additionally, while Japan has declared a 20-30 km exclusion zone from the Fukushima plant, other nations (specifically, Australia, US, and Britain) have recommended an 80 km exclusion zone. The downplaying of the event by the Japanese authorities continues to be a cause of concern. TEPCO is failing to provide accurate and timely information so much so that on March 15 Prime Minister Naoto Kan admonished the utility officials for the delay in informing him about the fire in reactor No. 1.6 TEPCO has done this in the past as well, when it has delayed providing information or worse falsifying it. The case of cracks in the Fukushima plant in 1993 and 1994, which were downplayed by the authorities, deserves special mention. Cracks were detected in the core shroud at Units 1 and 4 at Fukushima Dai’chi in 1993 and cracks in the middle part of the shroud were detected at Unit 2 in 1994. The magnitude of the cracks in Unit 2 turned out to be far greater and more serious than what was stated in TEPCO’s official reports. Additionally, cracks were found in each shroud of Units 1, 3 and 5, which were covered up by the authorities.7

Tracing the developments in Fukushima, some commentators have concluded that nuclear energy is too risky to be pursued further and this incident should be a trigger to boost the anti-nuclear debate. While such a stance is plausible, realistically, the world is not likely to witness a nuclear-free environment in the near future. Also, no amount of hysteria will force governments to shut down reactors that have been operating for years. The dangers of a Fukushima-like-disaster are unlikely to discourage countries like China, Pakistan, India, Iran and US. Consequently, it remains important to focus on improving the safety and security of nuclear power plants.

1. Richard Black, “Uncertainty surrounds Japan's nuclear picture”, BBC News, 12 March 2011, accessed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/world-12723092
2. Jonathan Thatcher, “Japan's nuclear power operator has checkered past”, Reuters, 12 March 2011, accessed at http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE72B1B420110312
3. “Stricken nuke plant missed scheduled inspections”, ABC News, 21 March 2011, accessed at http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/21/3169841.htm
4. 'Very serious' situation at Fukushima plant, RTE News, 16 March 2011, accessed at http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0316/japan.html
5. Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, “Japan Reactor Emergency Passes Three Mile Island on Scale of Nuclear Disasters”, AllGov, 17 March 2011, accessed at http://www.allgov.com/Top_Stories/ViewNews/Japan_Reactor_Emergency_Passes_Three_Mile_Island_on_Scale_of_Nuclear_Disasters_110317
6. Mehul Srivastava and Shigeru Sato, “Conflicting Information Drives Anxiety in Japan Nuclear Crisis”, Bloomberg, 17 March 2011, accessed at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-17/conflicting-information-drives-anxiety-in-japan-nuclear-crisis.html
7. Revelation of Endless N-damage Cover-ups, Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, accessed at http://cnic.jp/english/newsletter/nit92/nit92articles/nit92coverup.html

SOURCE: IDSA COMMENT http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/TakingstockofJapansNuclearCrisis_amalhotra_220311

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The IED Menace

Improvised Explosive Devices are as devious as the minds of the persons who create them. Over the years, like with conventional weaponry, this method of warfare has also evolved to achieve greater assured destruction. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka, before it was decimated with frontal military assaults had earned for itself considerable notoriety in the use of IEDs and belt bomb triggering tactics used by suicide bombers were said to be its creation. India has learned two lessons: 1) The dog is the best detector of explosives and 2) Counter-insurgency is a manpower intensive warfare.

The Naxal menace continues to haunt the country with periodic attacks that persistently bleed the hapless security forces and the civilians. While the tactics employed remain similar to the past, the techniques of the latest attacks reflect a new chapter in the Naxal warfare. One aspect that clearly stands out is the sophistication of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs/roadside bombs/landmines employed in the latest attacks. Police figures from January 2008 to March 2010, reveal that IEDs are responsible for 70 per cent of casualties borne by security personnel. The increased reliance of the Naxals on IEDs coupled with greater accuracy and disastrous effects showcases that this tactic is here to stay.

Wide employment
IED can be defined as an explosive device that is planted or customised in an improvised way. It comprises of destructive and lethal chemicals or explosives and is prepared to devastate, cripple, harass or spread fear. The usual trend states that mostly IEDs incorporate industrial or agricultural components and rely less on military supplies. The history of IEDs can be traced back to the World War II, when IEDs were used by the Belarusian guerrillas against the German Army. It reached a new level, when it was effectively used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Britain.
The tactic remained prominent in the Vietnam War, was utilised by the Mujahideen in the Afghan-Russo war and remains an overriding factor in the insurgent attacks of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mass destruction

In India, IEDs / landmines have dominated the insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-east and now constitute an important part of the Naxal strategy. Also, the armed forces of India have faced the menace of these explosives during the operations in Sri Lanka. IEDs give more dividends to the guerrilla warriors and ensure minimum casualty on their side. A threatening change in the techniques of the Naxalites can
be traced to September 21, 2004, when Naxalites consolidated with Left Wing splinter groups. Particularly, with the merger of major Left wing groups, namely Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War (also known as the People’s War Group or PWG), Left Wing Extremism
opened a dangerous chapter for India’s internal security. Improved techniques
of warfare, accuracy and enhanced sophistication of weapons marked a change in the Naxal violence. While the number of incidents of Naxal violence have decreased over the years, the casualties have increased exponentially. The existence of IEDs has been felt in almost all states in the Red Corridor. Their effect and presence is more prominent in the northern region of Naxal-infected area as compared to its southern region.

Weapon of choice
Naxals have reportedly set up four units to manufacture weapons and arms, where they are developing remote-controlled IEDs that can be set off with the push of a button. Other activities include making small bombs, mortar shells and ‘Claymore Mines’ or ‘directional IEDs’. Apart from this sophistication, Naxals have become innovative by employing bamboo sticks as IEDs or can bombs. Such devices usually are not easily detected. Considering the pervasiveness of IEDs in Naxal attacks, it is important
to delve into the reason for it to remain a guerrilla’s weapon of choice. An IED is extremely lethal, inexpensive to produce and can be paired with numerous detonation techniques (like detonation through mobile phones or remote controls)that pose minimum risk to the rebels. Additionally, the perpetrator can control the fatalities by deciding the detonation time and position of the bomb. IEDs can be produced at any place, with commercially-available-materials such as agricultural and medical supplies. These bombs are portable and don’t need any prescribed or specific environment for storage. Captured ‘IED makers’ in Afghanistan testified to learning
IED-making techniques from manuals distributed by terrorist organisations or the ones available online. This clearly illustrates that producing an IED does not demand high technical expertise. The placements of explosives are asymmetric in nature and possess idiosyncrasies, as the method of improvisation is not static and depends
on its maker.

LTTE trainers?
The blast in the Sheohar district in Bihar on October 23, 2010 when five cops succumbed to death was a deadly one. The effectiveness of the landmines used by the Naxals can also be attributed to their alleged external links. Tracing the use of IEDs / landmines, it is important to take into account the attack of May 17, 2010, when Naxals detonated the IEDs coupled with gelatine sticks and blew up a bus killing almost 40 people, including 12 Special Police Officers (SPOs). Experts consider the attack noticeably similar to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacks
against Sri Lankan soldiers, therefore stating that Naxals have been trained by
the splinter group of LTTE. The bomb was placed days prior to the attack and was planted by digging a tunnel from the side of the road to reach the crust of the road. The concrete top remains undisturbed therefore attracting no attention. A similar attack took place when an IED blew up an armoured vehicle killing eight CRPF personnel on a National Highway, close to a CRPF camp.

Easy access
It is important to note that Naxals rely on Gelatine sticks rather than exploring
the RDX option primarily because of the easy availability of gelatine sticks within India. Besides this, ammonium nitrate is an asset which is munificently used in the production of IEDs. On May 20, 2010 Naxals hijacked a truck in Bastar which was carrying 16.5 tonnes of high-grade ammonium nitrate explosives. A similar incident took place in the same area, when Naxals ransacked a truck carrying detonators,which was never traced by the police force. In March 2010 Naxals waylaid a truck in north Gadchiroli which bore ammonium nitrate mixture. The frequency of these incidents implies that dependency on IEDs would increase with greater intensity and Naxals would continue to utilise indigenous materials to prepare them. Owing to the fact that Naxals control most of the mining activities in ‘their’ region, they have a strong hold on the industrial explosives too. This is another overriding concern that needs to be tackled by policy. Also, other rudimentary form of explosive is the mixture of urea and diesel. It is rather essential to highlight that most of the Naxal-placed landmines discovered weigh in tonnes and not kilos. Reportedly, Naxals have planted IEDs and mines in forests of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal to inflict greater casualties to security personnel undertaking operations in the area. Even National Highways in the worst affected districts have been mined by the Maoists. The government intends to include army personnel to detect the bombs, as the paramilitary forces have limited experience in such operations. Although the Indian government persists to intensify its operations against the Naxals, it continues to maintain a slipshod attitude towards the issue of IEDs. The government has failed to legislate the Draft Ammonium Nitrate Rule, 2009, which was drafted to regulate the accessibility and supply of ammonium nitrate in India. The step was undertaken after the assertion that ammonium nitrate (used as fertiliser) was the main material used by Naxals in their IEDs. According to the Draft Rules, a consignment of ammonium nitrate passing through sensitive areas should be escorted by armed police personnel and the vehicle should be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS).

Naxals seem to be relentlessly evolving their IEDs, seemingly inspired from the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike the Indian police or paramilitary forces, Naxals are not restricted by legalities and therefore can adapt faster to the changing scenarios and nature of warfare. The need of the hour is to arm the security forces with the latest technology and equipment needed to undertake Counter Insurgency Operations. As evident in J and K and north-east, Road Opening Parties (ROPs) have proved to be effective in neutralising the area before the security forces embark on operations, therefore reducing casualties. Prudently, ROPs should be conducted in Naxal infested areas before security personnel advance
for operations. The army can train the security forces with a solid training programme in order to acquaint them with counter-IED technology. Procuring equipment would be futile if not coupled with appropriate training. It is imperative for the security forces operating in Maoist-infested areas to revamp their strategy and
tactics to counter the landmines. More emphasis should be laid on movement by foot, rather than using vehicles in mine infested kuchha roads. This would render the massive landmines sometimes weighing in tonnes, ineffective. Simultaneously, a better
network of intelligence gathering should enable security forces to clamp down on IED manufacturing units in forests and villages. The cadres having expertise in bomb making should be identified and targeted. Effective area domination and improvements in road opening procedures inculcated from the army, would help in detecting mines on highways and other metalled roads prior to vehicle movements. Another way of limiting the menace of IEDs would be to restrict the easy availability of industrial explosives from reaching the Maoists. As earlier brought out, enabling trucks carrying explosive materials with GPS and better security at their storage areas, identifying agents who siphon off explosives to the Maoists would help in this regard. Most IED attacks turn out successful because paramilitary personnel tend
to step on the bombs / landmines.

In order to act swiftly and safely, the security forces require Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles. Additionally, electronic jamming systems can prove effective as a countermeasure to the IED menace. The system can be placed on the vehicles operating in the Red Corridor. This system would block the signals of radio guided initiators, like cell phones, long-range cordless sets. Another countermeasure can be to propose procurement of the PING (a Pentagon developed microwave project) from the US administration, which successfully locate insurgent weapons. Further, the government can also employ Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), which is equipped with a mechanical arm to inspect and relocate suspected IEDs.

Moreover, the global market offers an IED standoff detection system based on lightweight, mobile ground-penetrating radar which can be installed on a vehicle. The system can detect metallic objects placed beneath the road-crust or at the roadside; these include mortar bombs or artillery shells rigged as IEDs. The radar has the ability to detect an IED / landmine from a distance of 300 ft, offering standoff safety and early warning for diffusion and neutralisation. Apart from these, the global market has numerous other weapon locating systems to order. It is important to point that the system of procurement is dominated by numerous procedures that remain both fruitless and ineffective. Rather than considering these procedures as gospel, the government needs to pull up its socks and equip the security forces with at least the basic equipment that ensure protection. Control it now The success of guerrilla operations greatly depends on IEDs, a threat that will continue to haunt India and the world at large. On June 10, 2010, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that “countering the improvised explosive devices have become a high priority for NATO and that the United States has already begun to put training for IED detection high on its list.” The statement mirrors the gravity of the IED menace and the seriousness with which it is being acknowledged in this era of turbulence.

Undoubtedly, the sophistication of IEDs harming the US forces is more deadly as compared the ones harming the Indian forces. For India, now is the right time to counter this threat before it transforms into an unmanageable threat like the Naxalites themselves. More than technology, a better grip on the area by the security forces possible only by an increase in the number of better trained and equipped personnel for anti-naxal operations who follow the correct road opening and movement drills in landmine infested belts of the Maoist hinterland will bring about a change in the situation. A comprehensive and well crafted strategy to counter the lethal IEDs and landmines that combines better training and technology would bring down the number of security forces casualties suffered in left wing extremism considerably.

SOURCE: Defence and Security Alert, Vol 2, Issue 5, February 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How secure is India’s radioactive material?

The WikiLeaks revelation about Al-Qaeda trying to stockpile ‘dirty’ nuclear explosives and recruit rogue scientists to plot 9/11-like terror attacks in major cities of the world, should be a concern for India. Another revelation that shows that the threat is real is The Telegraph’s report that the West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan told the Americans when he was national security adviser that India had discovered a “manifest attempt” by jihadi groups “to get fissile material” to manufacture a crude nuclear bomb. Considering the motivations of terrorist groups, it is time India shifts its attention towards its nuclear safety. Due to the non-transparent nature of India’s nuclear energy sector, it is relatively difficult to estimate the actual state of safety and security.

Despite few contentious issues like the Nuclear Liability Bill, India’s nuclear rise has renewed hopes for meeting the country’s ever-growing power needs. As India embarks on its nuclear expansion, it is important to focus on the current state of India’s nuclear safety and security, and prudent to highlight the issues and accept the lacunae (if any) or retardation factors in terms of nuclear safety measures and practices.

The Indo-US nuclear deal signed in 2005 ended the three decade old sanctions regime (imposed after India’s 1974 nuclear test) and provided opportunities to buy nuclear reactors and dual use technologies from the global market. At the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, the Prime Minister projected an increase in installed capacity by more than seven fold to 35,000 MWe by the year 2022, and to 60,000 MWe by 2032. The degree of expansion projected will result in new facilities being created through the fuel cycle. While there are numerous issues pertaining to India’s nuclear safety, this article focuses on the issue of theft of radioactive material.

One of the possible terrorist acts involving radioactive material can be its dispersion through the use of a Radiological Dispersal Device, a mixture of dynamite, with radioactive powder or pellets. When the device is set off, the blast carries radioactive material into the surrounding area. Such a radiological weapon can be used by the dispersion of radioactive aerosol or by detonating radioactive material with conventional explosives. While terrorist groups have so far employed conventional weapons, the future nature of their attacks may not remain limited to the same. Osama Bin Laden has reportedly declared the possession of nuclear weapons as a religious duty. Adding to the scare was a fatwa issued by Sheikh Nasir bin Hamid al-Fahd, allowing the use of WMD, even if it involves killings of innocent Muslims.

A dirty bomb with minimum amount of radiological material if exploded may not cause enough physical damages but may lead to mass hysteria and panic. Additionally, there will be significant environmental clean-up costs and indirect economic damages, such as devaluation of urban property rates and loss of agricultural market share due to stigmatisation of the contaminated target area, even after successful cleanup operations. What is of more concern is that radiation detection devices are not widely used in India except in nuclear facilities and airports.

Therefore, India needs to keep the nuclear fissile/radioactive material impregnable. The current state of protection of radioactive material in India can best be gauged by the following instances of theft. This also calls into question the reliability of India’s Material Protection, Control & Accounting (MPC&A) programme.

In July 1998, the Central Bureau of Investigation seized over eight kilograms of natural uranium stolen from the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Chennai. In July 2002, a gamma radiography camera containing Iridium 192 with an activity of 729 GBq was stolen during transportation in Assam. The camera, a highly radioactive device, was left unlocked in the trunk of a public bus in a region plagued by insurgent activity. In August 2003, a large quantity of Cobalt 60 (Co 60) was stolen from a steel plant in Jamshedpur. Though the material was guarded by a sophisticated alarm system on the front door, the thieves simply bypassed it by breaking through the rear wall.

The Atomic Energy Regulation Board’s (AERB’s) Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT) is the only government controlled institution that produces and supplies a variety of radioisotope products in India. AERB’s regulation may be comforting but a major problem lies in the lack of information with regard to radioactive material procured in India before the AERB was set up. This makes it difficult for AERB to be aware of any unaccounted material which may be in the public domain. Apart from this, there are other sources that may be exploited by terrorists for the acquisition of radioactive material in India. There are numerous facilities in India that use radioactive material for commercial purposes, and are believed to be stored in facilities that have lax physical protection measures for the material. Such places include hospitals or cancer treatment centres, research facilities in the universities, industries like road construction and gas exploration.

Another source of threats comes from almost 4000 tons of junk metal being imported into India on a daily basis. On paper, the guidelines governing the monitoring of junk imported looks good, but in reality, the enforcement practices and screening methods at the ports are poor. This may result in radioactive material getting siphoned for destructive use. The Mayapuri case was illustrative of the current scenario where imported scrap arrived without any check for radiation or any other lethal material at the Indian ports. Till the Mayapuri incident, the BARC, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Department of Atomic Energy or the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had no control over such materials being shipped into India. Post-Mayapuri, the Home Ministry and NDMA devised plans but the same currently remain behind schedule.

One aspect that ails India’s nuclear security is the lack of acceptance that there is a lacunae in its security mechanisms. Instead of periodically asserting that the nuclear plants and material are completely secure, it is important for the authorities to undertake serious examination of the safety issues and work on areas that demand their attention. Additionally, too much secrecy about the current safety measures is also a source of public concern. M R Srinivasan, a former head of the DAE, asked the organisation to “adopt an enlightened policy of keeping the public informed at all times about safety aspects of its installations”. The persistent secrecy is bound to add to the public distrust and concern.

Aditi Malhotra is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi

(The views expressed in the article are that of the author and do not represent the views of the editorial committee or the centre for land warfare studies).

Source: CLAWS Website http://claws.in/index.php?action=master&task=751&u_id=119



Rajesh M. Basrur, Friedrich Steinhäusler, “Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism Threats for India: Risk Potential and Countermeasure”, Journal of Physical Security, http://jps.anl.gov/vol1_iss1/3-Threats_for_India.pdf, accessed on 1 February 2011.

Sitakanta Mishra, “How Prepared Are We? India and the Challenge of Nuclear Terror”, IPCS Special Report 82, September 2009, http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/SR82-Sitakanta-NuclearTerror.pdf, accessed on 1 February 2011.

Chaitanya Ravi, “The Nuclear Safety Culture in India: Past, Present and Future” IPCS Special Report 90, May 2010, http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/SR90-Chaitanya.pdf, accessed on 2 February 2011.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winning hearts and minds

Many parts of the world are inflicted with insurgencies and militaries world over have been deployed in numerous counter-insurgency (CI) operations. Similarly, the Indian Army along with defending the borders continues to remain deployed in counter-insurgency operations ranging from the North-East to Jammu & Kashmir, for almost 60 years. Considering the importance of the civil population in CI Operations, the doctrine of sub-conventional warfare of the Indian Army released in January 2007 placed winning hearts and minds (WHAM) as a prerequisite in conducting successful counter-insurgency operations. Redefining the basic definition of the role, the CI strategies of the Indian Army aims at not only winning the war but also avoiding it all together.

A manifestation of this strategy can be best reflected through Operation Sadhbhavna. In 1998, The Northern Command of the Indian Army launched Operation Sadhbhavna (meaning goodwill) and expanded its mandate to rebuilding the socio-economic lives of the people affected by terrorism. The operation aims at winning over alienated sections of the society and promoting development activities that focus on the basic needs of the people. Post-Kargil, in 2000, the operation was extended to Ladakh and Kargil by Lt Gen Arjun Ray, the then commander of 14 Corps. The initial aim of the operation was to prevent the Kashmir insurgency from spreading to the Ladakh region. It focused on bringing development and dignity to the 109,500 people residing in the 190 villages close to the Line of Control.

From 1998 to 2008, a total of Rs. 276.08 crores were allocated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD and spent on numerous developmental activities under this operation. Throughout the operation, the villagers of the conflict zones were the focal point around which the development was planned. Acting as the facilitator between the state administration and the villagers, the Indian Army assisted in planning, providing technical solutions and supervision of the developmental projects. The focus areas of the operation have been education, women empowerment, health care, community development and development of infrastructure. Local labour, artists and material was used to pump in money into the local economy. A wide range of projects were undertaken ranging from building and renovating schools; establishing vocational and computer training centres; bridges, roads, providing free medical services etc.

The results of the operation have been phenomenal and were illustrative of the change that the operation had aimed to achieve. Developmental projects helped transform the lives in border villages of Kashmir and instilled in the villagers a sense of confidence towards the army personnel. The locals cooperated enthusiastically in the completion of the projects and more importantly, people who harboured militants earlier, were now actively engaged in removing them.

In the year 2000-2001 alone, the army contributed a total of Rs. 35.34 crores to the local economy. In Ladakh region, 13 Army Goodwill Schools, 11 Women empowerment centres, 6 medical complexes were created. Additional facilities also included 6 cooperative poultry farms, a boys’ hostel in Drass and an orphanage at Kargil. Along with providing 40 generators, a total of eight villages in the remote areas of the region have been electrified and the numbers continue to rise. Almost 1000 MHP are being constructed to meet the electricity demands and 283 MHPs have always been accomplished.

With regard to the success of Operation Sadbhavana, the case of Turtuk is worth a mention. Turtuk was part of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) until 1971 when India occupied it. In 1999, intrusion by Pakistani forces in the sector remained undetected because the locals did not inform the Indian Army, as it was viewed as an occupation force. The locals had refused to provide any logistical support to the Indian troops and reportedly even guided Pakistani shelling. After the launch of Operation Sadbhavana, the scene today is starkly different. The local population was the beneficiary of the army’s novel steps on border management and today the Indian army is considered as ‘apni fauj’ in the sector. Since Sadbhavana started, 80 men from the Turtuk area have joined the army and 32 the police.

Operation Sadbhavana since its inception has exemplified the Indian Army’s role in nation-building. The operation which continues to drive many developmental projects in border areas has positively impacted the lives of the populace and ameliorated the sufferings of those afflicted by militancy and insurgency. The operation in general created an urge among the local population to help themselves and become self-reliant. In the long run, it would be appropriate to transfer the projects to civil administration, which would best take the novel efforts of the Indian Army forward. The efforts by the army have also helped in projecting a positive image of the Indian government and civil administration. The strategy of WHAM has paid rich dividends and has also been an important factor in changing the perspectives of local populace towards the Army and has increased cooperation with the civil government.

Aditi Malhotra is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi

Courtesy: The Indian Express, 15 January 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

India's Silence on Chinese Incursions

China continues to convince the world about its ‘peaceful rise’, a claim which gets periodically belied by Chinese actions and strategic developments. The New Year was greeted by the first flight of China’s fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft Chengdu J-20 on January 4, 2011. The Chinese have regularly asserted that it is upgrading its military weapons for self-protection, which is normal for every country. Such assertions do not always seem to be realistic considering the massive military modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Additionally, on January 5, 2011, Kyodo News reported that the Chinese military’s newly released policy papers aver that the military would consider a pre-emptive nuclear strikes if faced with a critical situation in a war with another nuclear state. More specifically, the report highlighted that the Second Artillery Corps (Chinese military’s strategic missile forces) would ‘adjust’ its policy if another nuclear state undertakes air strikes against Chinese targets ‘with absolutely superior conventional weapons.’ Expectedly, the very next day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei strongly denied the reports and termed them as "totally false" and "made with ulterior motives."

Other issues of concern that best exemplify Chinese assertiveness is its offer to export one-Gigawatt (GW) nuclear plant along with the construction of two 300 MW reactors to Pakistan. Another example of China’s belligerence was the flare-up in the South China Sea in September 2010 due to a pair of Japanese Coast Guard vessels in disputed waters. While these developments are alarming, there are minimum traces of strong opposition from the world or an agreement on the way forward.

While it may seem that the world lacks a consensus about how to deal with the rising China, the claim is more realistic in case of India. The recent reports of Chinese incursions into Indian Territory in the Demchok area of Leh district on July 31, 2010 should not be a shocking revelation. It is just a small part of the numerous Chinese incursions that take place periodically, which sometimes remain unreported or at times are downplayed by the government. Following the media reports, the Centre termed the reports as "baseless" citing that perceptional differences exist between India and China with regard to where exactly the Line of Actual Control (LAC) runs on the ground.

As per an official report, these Chinese troops including motor-cycle borne personnel of the PLA, entered Gombir area in Demchok region and threatened the civilian workers to stop building the shed, the plan for which was cleared by the state rural development department. It should also be noted that in November 2009, a road project under Centrally-sponsored National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), was stopped after objections were raised by the Chinese Army. Such an act should have alarmed the government but the claim was denied by Union Minister Farooq Abdullah who stated that the work may have been stropped due to severe cold. The continuous game of denial played by the Indian side is a point of serious concern.

Quoting Leh deputy commissioner T Angchuk, a media report had said, "The Chinese troops objected to the construction work last October. The matter was brought before both the ITBP and Army, manning the border, but they directed us to stop construction work."

The rounds of Sino-India talks in territorial disputes can be traced back to almost thirty years but they have proved to be fruitless and futile. China periodically asserts its claim over Indian Territory through border violations, by issuing stapled visas to residents on Jammu and Kashmir and objecting to funding of projects in AP by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). As a result India dropped projects in AP to be funded by the ADB. While some view this move as an effort to reduce tensions between the India and China, one may also consider this as India’s reluctance to take on the Chinese. Even though India may try to pass strong messages by lobbying key members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to counter the Sino-Pak nuclear deals, it tends to nullify any such assertions by silencing itself in case of Sino intrusions in the Indian terrotory. India continues to appease Beijing fearing that any objection to their action may provoke an armed confrontation between the two sides.

Instead of articulating a strong policy towards China, the South Block remains unperturbed and practices the policy of denying any anomalies in the Sino-India border. If we go by history, in 1962, China brazenly flouted the Panchsheel principles and unleashed aggression on India. The history is something that does not seem to direct the Indian actions or concerns. While it is imprudent to ignore the inevitable need to formulate a policy for the rising China, India needs to first and foremost recognise the threat and shed off its reluctance to act against the same.

According to Sun Tzu, the Chinese military thinker, “…supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting”. Judging by india’s intaction, it would seem that the Chinese have succeeded. The need of the hour is to upgrade the military infrastructure and logistics on the border and direct efforts towards military preparedness, so that India can tackle any Chinese aggression (in any) and rightfully preserve the borders and its territory, the least we can do.

Aditi Malhotra, Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).

Source:Indian Defence Review


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thinking the unthinkable: US Foreign Policy and Think Tanks

The foreign policy of the USA moulds events in almost all corners of the world. It is difficult to understand contemporary international politics without considering the dynamics of US foreign policy. In order to understand the decisions taken by US internationally, it is important to assess the features of its foreign policy-making process. Notably, the process of policymaking involves numerous actors, activities and functions, making it a complex affair. The US foreign policy-making process is influenced by many domestic entities to a large extent. Each entity bears its own sphere of influence, moulding the final product of process.

Out of multiple domestic actors involved, the essay will focus on the importance of ‘think tanks’ in the policy-making process. Think tanks have essentially been an important part of the US foreign policy-making process. Interestingly, as compared to other western democracies, there are comparatively higher numbers of think tanks in US and are relatively more influential in the policymaking process. Hence, it is important to trace the importance, role and reasons for influence of these entities in the American political set-up.

In simple terms, a ‘think tanks’ can be defined as “public policy research, analysis and engagement institutions that generate policy-oriented research, analysis and advice on domestic and international issues that enables policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues.”

The advent of modern think tanks in the USA was at a time when it assumed worldwide leadership. The role of these ‘thinking cells’ was to provide the government with impartial advice on policy related matters. Institute for Government Research, the precursor of Brookings Institution (1927) was one of the earliest think tanks. The end of World War I and II marked the period of America’s vital involvement in world politics, escalating the importance of independent foreign policy advice. The pressures of establishing itself as a hegemonic power in a bipolar world made it essential for the government to consider expert advice on foreign policy and national security. By 1948, RAND Corporation was created to develop and protect the American security interests in a nuclear era.

American history is dotted with instances that evidently reflect the influence of think tanks on US’s foreign policy. One such illustration was after the end of World War II. Council on Foreign Relations published an article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” written by U.S diplomat George Kennan. This article created the base for the containment policy, which was relentlessly employed by the US till the end of Cold War.

During the 1990’s, U.S think tanks highlighted their informal yet central role in foreign policy formulation. Ironing out the differences between diplomats, they were seen as an unbiased third party in political discussions. An example of this was the debate of NATO enlargement. The conflict between the diplomats was minimised by the involvement of think tanks, thus building support for NATO enlargement. The NATO enlargement debate was imperative to surpass the Cold War’s divide and build a peaceful Europe.

As mentioned before, the degree of influence enjoyed by think tanks is limited to the American system of governance. The political landscape of USA is different from conventional political models and relatively far more decentralised. This primarily provides an environment where think tanks thrive. US governance possesses some attributes that remain exclusive to its domain. These attributes makes it easier for think tanks to influence the policy-making procedure through various techniques. The following segment will address some prominent characteristics of the American system and how think tanks utilise it to their advantage.

The most distinguishing is the clear division between legislative and executive sectors of the government. This implies that the powers of the President and the Congress are divided, allowing room for other actors to influence. Congress remains a very strong force in American politics and is also subject to external influences. As noted by Peter Gowan, Congress holds an extraordinary power over the US foreign policy. This tendency still prevails despite continuous efforts of the executive to affirm institutionalised control over the external policy (since 1945).The Congress remains sensitive to external forces like business corporations and think tanks.
Secondly, weak and reasonably non-ideological political parties are instrumental in further augmenting the role of think tanks. Parties do not get involved in the major part of policymaking by creating policy research branches of their own. Conversely, they rely on think tanks to fill this gap thus providing them a reasonable degree of power in the policymaking process. Think tanks continuously generate innovative ideas, evaluate government programmes and analyse policies. At times, experts provide immediate policy consultations to the government on policy problems and issues of pressing concern. In times of conflict between parties, these institutions act as a third party mediator and help break deadlocks and facilitate a comprehensive dialogue between them.

Another special attribute of the US political system is the selection of cabinet ministers. Contrary to conventional parliamentary system practices, cabinet ministers are not selected solely from parliamentary factions, and senior officials not primarily chosen from the public service. There are multiple ways of coming to such positions. With a change in administration, people hailing from various spheres are chosen through different means. This offers a level of permeability, giving opportunities to outside actors in the process.

The most exclusive function enjoyed only in the American system is the ‘revolving door’. This refers to the arrangement of supplying experts for new administrations and becoming centres for retiring officials who do not want to get divorced from foreign affairs. This helps the researchers to experience the real world politics and apply the theoretical models to practical situations. Furthermore, think tanks offer places for ex-administration officials who can share their experiences and remain involved with the domain of global affairs. This facilitates entities like think tanks to be continuously engaged in the policy processes.

This practice is liberally applied by many governments who have appointed researchers/experts for governmental positions. Additionally, retiring government officials enjoy opportunities of employment in renowned think tanks. The ‘revolving door’ clearly blurs the distinction between government official and external analysts. For example, the previous Bush administration gave several positions to experts in foreign policy affairs. Following is a list of the officials.

Besides this, think tanks are extremely active during the campaigning periods and transitional phases of governments. These opportunities are best utilised for setting foreign policy agendas. The first and probably most influential channel think tanks use play out in presidential elections. Candidates usually approve a 'blueprint' on internal and external policies and are greatly influenced by them or sometimes simply use it as their own. As Martin Anderson of the Hoover Institution explains, “It is during these times that presidential candidates solicit the advice of a vast number of intellectuals in order to establish policy positions on a host of domestic and foreign policy issues. Candidates test these issues on the campaign trail. It's like a national test marketing strategy.” Besides hardcore political involvement, think tanks are instrumental in enhancing public understanding by interpreting complex policies and gaining support for policy initiatives. This is done through electronic and print media. Simultaneously, they publish books; arrange seminars, rotary meetings for public and government officials.

Additionally, supplementary aspects exist that are equally instrumental in establishing the highly influential role of think tanks. The capabilities of US think tanks to contribute directly or indirectly and, the eagerness of diplomats to consider their advice are significant. It is believed that US being a superpower owes responsibility to the international arena and has a range of challenges of various degrees. In order to undertake these responsibilities and combat challenges, think tanks are important to assist the policymakers with expert advice and long-term schemes.

Apart from the political angle, the social system supports this kind of arrangement. The traditions of philanthropy, corporate or individual funding helps think tanks to sustain. It is important to note that the above mentioned reasons are not solely responsible for enhancing the role of think tanks, but it is their confluence that makes it them prominent.

In statistical terms, a research was conducted by Lawrence and Benjamin on "epistemic communities". The work highlights that the rising complexities and improbability of international problems has "led policy makers to turn to new and different channels of advice" and particularly to innovative "networks of knowledge-based experts" in think tanks with the aim of articulating the objective causes of international issues, the "real" risks or security of regions affected by those problems, and appropriate policy remedies. Calculations reflect that experts are the second most influential entities in the policymaking process, business corporations preceding them.

Undoubtedly, it is important to appreciate the role of think tanks in the foreign-policy making process. Keeping this in mind, it is also essential to see the other side of the coin. Primarily, the main goal of these institutions is to influence government policy and public opinion. While in the process, they employ numerous that attract criticism in various degrees.

Unlike business corporations, a think tank’s success is gauged by the influence is has on the public and the policymakers (not in monetary terms, because the instituted are non-profit organizations). Also, when formulating policies, policymakers consider many aspects including public opinion. Majorly, perceptions of policymakers and public opinion are shaped by news and broadcast media. Therefore, influencing the media becomes increasingly important for think tanks.

Think tanks today operate in a market of heavy competition, where it is important for each to gain media attention in order to gain publicity. Think tanks experts disseminate their ideas and views through interviews, public briefings, opinion articles in newspapers, scholastic journals for academicians etc. For example, Brookings went to the extent of building its own TV and radio to facilitate media interviews. This makes it clear that think tanks extensively exercise marketing techniques to direct the content and direction of policies. This practice thus eventually places them in the same category as interest/pressure groups and other NGO’s. Albeit distinct differences, the distinctions between interest groups and think tanks is getting blurred.

These blurring distinctions have further heightened with the advent of advocacy think tanks. Advocacy think tanks establish strong policies reflecting a particular ideology and mix them with extensive marketing to manipulate policy debates. As observed by Richard Fly, some of the institutions like heritage Foundation are highly driven by ideology, while some like AARP, Public Policy Institute and the Economic Policy Institute are funded by an association of labor unions. Another technique of ensuring influence is to establish close ties with particular agency. This is reflected particularly in the case of RAND Corporation, which is a contractual research for the Depart of Defense.

Think tanks as registered under Non-profitable organizations rely on endowment and donations from organizations and individuals. AEI raises almost between $20 million to $25 million a year. At times, the sources of funding are not revealed. Most of the donors include huge business and financial corporations. As simple as it may seem, these donations are instrumental in directing the content of the research undertaken by these ‘idea brokers’.

Not surprisingly, the policymakers get influenced by the agenda-driven think tanks. This gives rise to domination of a particular ideology which gets reflected in American foreign policies. US has almost twice conservative think tanks than liberal ones. The elite theory holds that “the political system is dominated by select group of individuals and organizations with common goals like an interventionist foreign policy”. Even the media citations enjoyed by conservatives is higher that the centrists or leftists. This is visible in the following figure.

Some think tanks attempt to stretch their ideological sphere to other countries by establishing overseas affiliations, namely, The Urban Institute, Carnegie Endowment. Even though some regard this as a step to enhance policy analysis abroad, it can also be criticised for endorsing ideologies to countries where the think tank sector is at an infant stage. This also shows that more and more think tanks use the media to propagate their ideas and perspectives.

The ‘revolving door’ no matter how useful can be viewed as a negative aspect of the American foreign policy process. After every change in the government, there are a high number of government positions. In order to fill that void, think tanks offer experts. Even though, this gives an opportunity for experts to offer researched opinions, this practice easily opens door for think tanks to embed their ideological stance in actually policies. The main goal of these ‘idea brokers’ is to influence the government, but the ‘revolving door’ gives them direct access to the government. Also, there are times when the experts do not get places in areas of their expertise. Thus, such experts often have inadequate knowledge about the program assigned. Some have also criticised this practice by terming it as “government in exile”. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, for example, has so many top ex-government officials that it has gained the nickname "National Security Advisors Stud Farm. Consequently, the whole network of think tanks is not just a simple arena of scholarly research to enhance understanding, as it may seem.

To sum up, US foreign policy is not purely a creation of the executive and legislative branches of the government, but external actors. As noted above, think tanks thrive due to the setting offered by the political system making it exclusively an American affair. The reliance of policymakers on think tanks for advice on foreign policy marks the importance of external actors and public in the process.

Nevertheless, it is also important to realise that extreme reliance on private entities for foreign policymaking may result in policies that are lopsided and bias. Private entities like think tanks may possess ulterior motives and may even be sensitive to other actors like business corporations and lobbyists. A foreign policy of a country reflects it domestic political landscape and perceptions. Privatising the policymaking process is not wise decision, especially when the foreign policy of a powerful country like US shapes the affairs of the globe today.


Alexander, K. ‘The Impact of Think Tanks on US Foreign Policy: Examining the Case of Iran and Nuclear Proliferation’, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, Mar 22, 2006 .

Asmus, R. ‘Having an Impact: Think Tanks and the NATO Enlargement Debate’, US Foreign Policy Agenda, 7:1-47, , 2002.

Dolny, M. ‘Think Tank Coverage: More attention, but not more balance’, Fairness and Accuracy in reporting (FAIR), < http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1182 >, 2004.

Fly, R. ‘What's In for Presidential Hopefuls: Think Tanks’, Business Week- Reports, 1986 (accessed 23 March 2009).

Gowan, P. ‘Global Economy’ in US Foreign Policy, eds. Cox. M & Stokes. D, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008.

Haass, R. , ‘Think tanks and U.S Foreign Policy: A policy-maker’s perspective’. US Foreign Policy Agenda, 7:1-47, < http://photos.state.gov/libraries/korea/49271/dwoa_120909/ijpe1102.pdf>, 2002.
Jacobs, L. & Benjamin I, ‘Who Influences U.S. Foreign Policy?’, American Political Science Association, 99: 107-123, , 2005.

McGann, J. Think Tanks and Policy Advice in the US: Academics, Advisors and Advocates. Routledge, Philadelphia, 2007.

Safire, W. ‘Tanks for the Memories’, New York Times, 1986.

Strobe Talbott, ‘The Brookings Institution: How a think tank works’. US Foreign Policy Agenda, 7:1-47, < http://www.scribd.com/doc/3210628/the-role-of-think-tank-in-us-foreign-policy>, 2002.

Weaver, R. ‘The Changing World of Think Tanks’, American Political Science Association, 22: 563-578, , 1989 (accessed 23 March 2009).

Aditi Malhotra is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)

Source: Eurasia Review

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Dynamics of US International Security Cooperation Programmes

The way the security landscape of South Asia has been unfolding is one of the most important areas of focus for US defence industry and its international security cooperation programmes. With the changing contours of the world order and the skepticism revolving around the peaceful rise of China and expected strengthening of terrorism, the alterations in Washington’s attitude are inevitable. As stated in Joint Operation Planning document of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Security cooperation is the means by which Department of Defense (DOD) encourages and enables countries and organisations to work with us to achieve strategic objectives. It consists of a focused programme of bilateral and multilateral defence activities conducted with foreign countries to serve mutual security interests and build defense partnerships.”

While all the countries of South Asia have a role in influencing regional stability (whether positively or negatively), the most significant countries are China, India and Pakistan. China’s growing assertiveness in South Asia and its plans for dominance in the region will decide the course of regional stability or instability. Furthermore, the Sino-Pak alliance is an association with potential to threaten stability of the region. India’s rising economy and prominence in the international arena is another aspect that will influence the future course of action. On the other hand, it is important to state that Pakistan’s political future is currently uncertain and the risky situation makes it inevitably tough to predict its positive contribution to regional stability. Rather, further deterioration of the country would only worsen acts of terrorism, hence hampering the security scenario of the region. The future of Afghanistan will also play an inevitable part of regional stability. Nevertheless, Pakistan currently remains indispensible for the US as a strategic partner and it is important for the US administration to pamper them so that Obama’s objectives in Afghanistan are met.

Considering the recent developments in the world order, the idea of a fading US hegemony is surfacing strongly and the US attempting to align regionally to maintain their standing. Evidently, the traditional challenges that the US is facing from emerging powers such as China, has compelled it to seek alliances with those who can ensure continued US dominance. A tough decision for Washington would be to balance its equation with both India and China. Obama’s visit to India reflects Washington’s desperation in seeking alliances, especially in business, in order to balance its still-so-precarious economic situation.

The recently confirmed deals between Indian and US companies are worth more than $10 billion and will create almost fifty-thousand jobs in America. The most prominent among them are the $2.7 billion deal with Boeing for 30 Boeing 737s and $5.8 billion for the purchase of 10 C-17 Globemaster aircraft for the Indian Air Force, in the offing. Evidently, the US has found a new market for its hi-tech goods. It is ironical that while they are flooded with Chinese goods, the US cannot convince China to buy its goods. China’s unpredictable conduct is a source of both, concern and befuddlement for the Obama administration. China’s labile attitude reflected through recent incidences makes it unlikely to be considered a robust ally of the US. However, any overt inconsonance with China may snowball into a weaker economy owing to the American economic dependency on China.

Under these dynamic and complex circumstances, it is incumbent on Washington to carve out security cooperation programmes that can counter Chinese influence and ensure US supremacy. An US alliance with India to balance China has been been talked of in both countries. However, Indo-US relations face periodic fluctuations that tends to hinder the upward trajectory. Nonetheless, both countries have come to an agreement on security cooperation and are likely to follow it up in the coming future. The road map of Indo-US defence relationship for the period from 2005 to 2015, has been set through the New Framework for US-India Defence Relationship signed in June 2005.

Apart from this, a prominent change in the American stance comes in the wake of the US’s national security report that was released in May 2010. Obama administration emphasised on the need to look beyond the military might and employ diplomatic tools and international partnerships/cooperation to achieve their security goals. The report stressed on increased diplomacy with other countries and economic discipline and stated that the armed forces of the US will always be a cornerstone of their security but it needs to be complemented. With this recent stand in view, one will be able to perceive the prominence of diplomatic tools as opposed to sole military might in future international security cooperation programmes formulated by the US. The pessimism and damages of US’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is undoubtedly a pivot for the present change in US diplomatic-speak.

While diplomacy will continue to be an important policy tool, the rise in nuclear trade and nuclear cooperation is evident. Nuclear industry is on the rise globally and would continue to do so even in the future. With more and more countries wishing to use the nuclear option for meeting their energy needs, the nuclear cooperation programmes will inevitably overpower other industry sectors. The world demand for energy is projected to rise by about 50 per cent by 2030 and to nearly double by 2050. Specifically in case of India’s fast-growing economy, the energy needs are bound to expand. Experts estimate that India’s civil nuclear energy sector will need at least $100 billion worth of investment in the next 20 years and therefore countries are signing agreements with India to reap the benefits. The commercial benefits and strategic options will have to be carefully deliberated upon, keeping in view the short term and long term implications of any move. The security dynamics of the region and the domestic strategic environment of the United States will test their ability to employ a balanced strategy framework for security cooperation programmes and defence cooperation in the future.

Aditi Malhotra is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views either of the Editorial Committee or the Centre for Land Warfare Studies).

SOURCE: The Centre for Land Warfare Studies http://claws.in/index.php?action=master&task=678&u_id=119