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

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Re-examining the Nuclear Deterrence Theory

Aditi Malhotra revisits the theory of nuclear deterrence in light of current trends including nuclear proliferation, increasing mulipolarity in global power, and terrorism. The article concludes that the cold war logic of nuclear deterrence cannot be used to justify continued development and maintenance of nuclear weapons systems.


Nuclear weapons are an inevitable reality in the contemporary world and they continue to dominate international politics and foreign policy. While few countries are expanding their nuclear stockpiles or proliferating through illicit means, some countries are undergoing what may be termed as “nuclear interphase” or the preparation stage. The current century is witnessing the preparation stage for what would eventually result in a few more nuclear babies in the international community. While nuclear proliferation is widely justified through the validity of the nuclear deterrence theory, it is important to reconsider the potency of the concept in relation to the challenges in today's changing world order.

Nuclear Deterrence Theory

The concept of deterrence became prominent during the Cold War era with the end of the nuclear monopoly previously enjoyed by the USA. Deterrence is defined in simple terms by Glenn Snyder as "the power to dissuade."[1] Alexander George and Richard Smoke describe it as, "simply the persuasion of one's opponent that the costs and/or risks of a given course of action . . . outweigh its benefits."[2] Thomas Schelling calls deterrence "a threat . . . intended to keep an adversary from doing something."[3]

When applying deterrence to the nuclear dimension, as some may argue, the whole dynamics of deterrence becomes more dangerous, or, as nuclear optimists believe, makes relations more stable keeping nuclear exchange at bay.

According to the theory of nuclear deterrence, A can deter B by threatening to use nuclear weapons if B does not act in accordance with A. For successful implementation of deterrence, B has to consider A's threat as credible. In case another country possesses nuclear weapons say C, the theory holds that A would be deterred from attacking C, resulting in a deadlock. In addition to this, if C protects B under its “umbrella”, then A would be deterred from attacking B because of the fear of getting attacked by C.[4]

If A has a monopoly on nuclear weapons, then it can threaten other states without fearing a reprisal. Nuclear deterrence theory is based primarily on the logic that the damage caused by the use of nuclear weapons is intolerable and states would favor peace to the possibility of an acute war. In August 1945, Japan became the victim of the “ultimate weapon of mass destruction” when the U.S. introduced nuclear weapons into the arena of warfare. This created a situation in which the U.S. was free to threaten other nations without deterrence, while others would be deterred from threatening or attacking the US.

For nuclear deterrence to work effectively, some assumptions must be taken into account:[5]

The actors involved are rational.
The risk must be excessively higher compared to the possible gain.
The theory usually operates in a bi-polar set up where two or more nuclear powers exist.
Presence of a nuclear triad i.e. the capability to considerably decrease the likelihood that the opponent could wipe out all of the country's nuclear forces in a first strike attack; subsequently guarantees a credible threat of a second strike. This is also known as survivability.
The nuclear power clearly addresses to the adversary what is considered as an unfavorable act and does not pass ambiguous messages.
The adversary is convinced that the coercer has the capability and the resolution to inflict unacceptable damage. This would primarily be based on enforcement cost, compliance cost and resistance cost.
The theory of deterrence works only when the above mentioned assumptions are accepted. Similar to numerous other theories, however, the application of nuclear deterrence theory in real time politics is problematic.

Even though the nuclear deterrence theory establishes the role of nuclear weapons as a protector and an instrument of avoiding war rather than leading to one, this remains highly contested. With the evolution of nuclear strategies, nuclear deterrence theory has become dynamic. Albeit the basic logic it proffers remains intact, adjustments have been made to the theory to suit the complexities of global politics.

USA enjoyed a monopolistic position of nuclear possession till 1949, when USSR tested its first nuclear weapon. This marked a period of a complex game of nuclear deterrence. With two nuclear nations, the stakes involved were high. During the Cold War period, nuclear deterrence remained the hallmark of military strategies. Nuclear deterrence in this period meant that both countries, namely the USA and USSR, had nuclear capability and could inflict “unacceptable damage”. Nuclear optimists professed that this would form the basis of a stable world order as no country would wish to spark a nuclear war that would result in the complete annihilation of politically significant regions.

The outcome of a nuclear exchange inherently pointed towards “unacceptable damage”, which was proudly employed to promote the idea of nuclear deterrence theory. As per the theory, having a second-strike capability that overcomes a first strike is not sufficient. Second-strike capability should be able to counter-attack the opponent with a degree of unacceptable damage. Theoretically, the concept appears to be effective but it is important to define “unacceptable damage”. One of the clear limitations on the theory lies in this concept which may be misleading. There are no concrete stipulations about what degree of damage or destruction is deemed “unacceptable”. For this concept to suffice in practical strategic application, it is crucial to identify an acceptable level of destruction in tangible terms. To clarify the matter, optimists emphasized on the significance of comprehending the opponent's cost-benefit calculations, but no instructions were presented on how to gain it.[6]

Moreover, it is not possible to guarantee that after suffering from a nuclear offensive, the country will be capable of inflicting unacceptable damage on the aggressor, and even if it does, it is difficult to assure that the level would be considered unacceptable to the aggressor.[7] Evidently, this term is ambiguous and sparks a fruitless race of maintaining superior defensive measures.

George Lee Butler[8] believed that the “unacceptable damage” issue was impossible to quantify or operationalise. The US ended up targeting over 16,000 locations in the USSR with ready delivery systems, but could still never be sure that they could have an “adequate” second-strike capacity to cause the necessary amount of “unacceptable damage”. Butler revealed that he was himself so shaken, when he took over supreme command, by the revelation of the insane logic that was operating in US nuclear preparations in the name of deterrence efficacy that he began to systematically question the basic assumptions of such thinking and the security paradigm based on it.[9]

Another problematic issue within the concept of “unacceptable damage” is the moral paradox. Nuclear deterrence relies on a 'shock and awe' strategy, particularly in terms of city devastation. The possibility of an exchange is unlikely when the destruction of numerous cities is involved in the calculation.[10] If deterrence fails, non-combatants are automatically included, killing millions of innocent people. Hence, the use of nuclear weapons, even as a deterrent, involves significant moral implications.

When faced with the possibility of an extreme degree of destruction, countries can be expected to invest in a strong defensive system to deter the opponent. The Cold War evidently carved out such a picture of arms race owing to the “security dilemma” created by each others capacity to punish the opponent with a nuclear attack. The fear of a nuclear attack dominated every decision in Washington and Moscow, leading to a massive arms race. Challenging the very notion of stability offered by nuclear deterrence theory, the countries armed themselves with technologically advanced nuclear capabilities to gain a comparative advantage in the game of deterrence, eventually leading to global instability.

Statistics clearly show that Warsaw and NATO countries were amassing arms at a relentless pace. Warsaw pact tank holdings rose from 35,000 in 1961 to almost 51,000 in 1991, whilst NATO held approximately 23,000 (primarily because USSR focused on land invasion of W. Europe). During the same period, ballistic missile systems in USSR's possession augmented from 326 in 1979 to 1,624 in 1990. In comparison, US's ballistic missiles rose from 1,213 in 1979 to 2,322 in 1990. (See appendix)[11]

The concepts of “assured destruction” and “mutually assured destruction” punctuated the language of military strategists and governments, taking the theory of nuclear deterrence to a new level. While the concepts of first and second strike capability became vivid, there was a rising probability of a Soviet surprise attack on the States. The term assured destruction, articulated by McNamara in mid-1960s meant to: “Deter a deliberate nuclear attack by maintaining at all times a clear and unmistakable ability to inflict an unacceptable degree of damage upon any aggressor, or combination of aggressors—even after absorbing a surprise first strike.”[12]

In order to ensure this form of destruction, the superpowers developed portable land missile systems, submarine launched missiles, and warheads measured in 'multi-megatons'. Perpetual search for superior weapons paved way for the idea of mutual assured destruction (MAD).

Accordance to the logic of nuclear deterrence, nuclear countries would not be able to attack each other owing to the fear of MAD, thus creating stability in the global arena. Ironically, reality does not hum the same tune. Since each country's weapons and arsenals are subject to continuous technological progress, equilibrium between the nuclear nations is constantly re-establishing itself. Therefore, the idea of parity is based on a situation that is complex (if not impossible) to assess and, therefore, does not ensure stability.[13]

During the cold war, a nuclear stalemate did not prevail, as technology and the massive arms race continuously altered the conditions of competition. New offensive and defensive weapons came to the front, upsetting the so-called stability of the period. To name a few, security strategists were introduced to Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), anti-ballistic missiles (ABM), and Intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), as well as the so-called “star wars” project of ballistic missile defense. Thus, rather than acting as a stabilizing force, nuclear weapons extended the “security dilemma” between powers, further undermining global stability.

Tensions and uncertainties engulfed the world during the cold war period, where two nuclear powers contested for relative advantage over the other. Even if we consider the temporary phases of stability between perpetual tensions across the iron curtain, nuclear deterrence theory may seem relevant. On the contrary, if we apply the same theory to the contemporary times, the theory would lack relevance.

In the multi-polar world of today, nuclear power is not just limited to two actors (as assumed in the theory), but is possessed by numerous countries, declared and undeclared. It has been argued that there we numerous instances where US-Soviet relations contributed to “nuclear peace”, and that a bi-polar confrontation made it easier to estimate potential threats.[14] Although this view is contested, it is important to realize that even if this statement is true; such a set-up would not be possible in today's world of multiple nuclear powers, which now include USA, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and possibly North Korea and Syria.

Tellingly, study on the cause and effect of nuclear proliferation has not found its basis in nuclear deterrence theory. Works devoted to this have not drawn much from the fundamental works of Hermann Kahn, Thomas Schelling, Glen Snyder, and other proponents of the theory. Certainly, some work has openly disregarded the notion of nuclear deterrence, considering it as an irrelevant and a misleading relic of the Cold War, although some nuclear optimists reinforce the belief that deterrence successfully discouraged the Soviet Union and argue for its continued relevance.[15]

To this effect, nuclear optimists argue that the stabilizing effect of the nuclear deterrence is responsible for the fact that the 20th century has not witnessed any total wars. Undoubtedly, nuclear attack has not been used in war since 1945, and the nuclear bomb has been kept at bay in the present conflicts. However, the world today is a victim of a different kind of instability. “Nuclear peace” at higher level has cultivated instability at lower level (regional), termed as “stability-instability paradox”.

Deterrence theory fails to explain the following cases: North Korea was not deterred from attacking South Korea in 1950, nor were Egypt and Syria deterred from attacking Israel in 1973. Additionally, Argentina was not deterred from capturing the British Falklands in 1982, Saddam not discouraged from seizing Kuwait in 1990 and Pakistan was not dissuaded from implementing the Kargil scheme.[16]

Moreover, the spread of nuclear weapons does not ensure global stability. Contrary to it, the hunger to acquire weapons of mass destruction clearly suggests that different states are ready to resort to the utmost level of destruction. Therefore, in an ambiance of persistent friction, nuclear weapons can never assure stability.

In the era of terrorism, there is a new dimension to the analysis. Possession of nuclear weapons, by state and non-state actors alike, provides its holder with a sense of security against opponents and sometimes used as a means of deterrence. “Nuclearisation” which was previously limited to recognized states now stretches across to terrorists and rogue states. The inherent power of nuclear power to deter, punish, or coerce makes it attractive for non-state actors that bear starkly different notions of victory and utopia. Nuclear technology may be used by terrorists or separatist groups to influence the political behavior of states.

Traditionally, state behavior has been regulated through periodic communication and mutual treaties. In regard to non-state entities, it is impossible to articulate treaties, or to have logical settlement through negotiation or agreements. Nuclear deterrence theory revolves around states and was earlier applied to strategies between military blocks. With the emergence of militant, non-state entities, deterrence theory requires a reorientation.

Perhaps one of the most severe criticisms of the nuclear deterrence theory is the main assumption of the theory, i.e. the decision-makers act rationally. Firstly, we would apply this assumption to the real time politics between states. Further ahead, we would test this assumption in case of a non-state or anti-state actor.

According to the theory, it is believed that states would be rational enough not to get involved in a nuclear exchange because of high stakes. Depending on nuclear deterrence for security is always a gamble, which may or may not fail. Trusting the theory for the notion of guaranteed safety is imprudent, as it is impossible to utilize the theory in the real world, where real time pressures and human element makes things unpredictable. As the theory works between two nuclear powers, it is difficult to state with certainty that both sides have mutually understood the basic concepts and the opponent's doctrine.

As described by Colonel Charles in 'Nuclear Deterrence in the Third Millennium', deterrence is a state of mind that prevents a deterree from acting in a way the deterrer considers harmful.[17] It is important to note that deterrence is considered a state of mind which must prevail in the opponent's mind. It has frequently been argued that during conflicts, where pressure dominates every move and analysis (because of a possible nuclear exchange), the possibility of miscalculations of messages cannot be ruled out. Nuclear deterrence has no answers for situations of an accidental nuclear launch or miscalculations and misinterpretations.

On October 24, 1962 (during the Cuban Missile Crisis), a Soviet satellite entered its own parking orbit, and shortly afterward exploded. Sir Bernard Lovell, director of the Jodrell Bank observatory wrote in 1968: "the explosion of a Russian spacecraft in orbit during the Cuban missile crisis... led the U.S. to believe that the USSR was launching a massive ICBM attack."[18] This could have sparked a nuclear war without reason, due to miscalculation.

Also, it is difficult to perfectly understand the real intentions about an enemy from whom one has been alienated. This was evident in the speech of General Lee Butler, where he emphasized that, “…deterrence left the antagonists to grope fearfully in a fog of mutual misperception. While we [USA] clung to the notion that nuclear war could be reliably deterred, Soviet leaders derived from their historical experience the conviction that such a war might be thrust upon them and if so, must not be lost…deterrence was a dialogue of the blind with the deaf.'[19]

Furthermore, if we consider this argument in the light of non-state or anti-state actors, the idea of rational actors becomes irrelevant. U.S has been maintaining nuclear weapons for apparent 'non-use' and is continuously enhancing its nuclear capabilities. This is done with a rationale of maintaining the power to deter rogue states and terrorist organizations. Objectively, the growing threat from such entities seems to entail states to rely on nuclear deterrence. On a subjective front, this seems to be conflicting. Deterring an enemy by threatening to destroy it may work with states but not with terrorists and rogue states, which (in political terms) have nothing to lose.

According to French social theorist Paul Virilio, speaking on Swiss Radio a month after September 11, the theory falls apart because the anti-state actors have no intention of reducing damage on his side. Contemporarily, suicide bombing marks out the strategy employed by terrorists (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas). Deterrence, structured around rational actors, is irrelevant in regard to terrorists who exercise erratic and self-immolating tactics, where force may not be rational at all.[20] Therefore, hoping that rationality prevails in every decision a state or non-state actor takes, is imprudent as otherwise considered by the theory.

Even though nuclear deterrence may have worked in some instances during the Cold War and otherwise, the theory fails to apply universally or convincingly in the changing environment of today. Holding nuclear power for security purpose is a diplomatic explanation which needs to be questioned now. It is hope camouflaged as strategic insight, and cannot be allowed to determine the future course of world affairs. Nuclear weapons, no matter how prestigious and important, are weapons of mass destruction. They can never assure stability through deterrence and should not be mixed with politics, which is dicey by nature.

[1] Glenn H. Snyder, ‘‘Deterrence and Defense,’’ reprinted in Robert J. Art and Kenneth N. Waltz, eds., The Use of Force: International Politics and Foreign Policy, University Press of America, New York, 1983, cited in Ward Wilson, ‘The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence’, The Nonproliferation Review, 15: 421 – 439,http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/33614__903544593.pdf, 2008, (accessed 18 March 2009).

[2] Alexander George and Richard Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice,Columbia University Press, New York, 1974, p. 11 cited in Ward Wilson, ‘The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence’, The Nonproliferation Review, 15: 421 – 439, http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/33614__903544593.pdf, 2008, (accessed 18 March 2009).

[3] Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence, Yale University Press, New Haven: CT, 1966, p. 69 cited in Ward Wilson, ‘The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence’, The Nonproliferation Review, 15: 421 – 439,, 2008, (accessed 18 March 2009).

[4] David Krieger, ‘Nuclear Deterrence, Missile Defenses and Global Instability’, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, , 2001 (accessed 28 February 2009).

[5] The assumptions have been articulated from different sources. Lawrence Freedman and Srinath Raghavan, Coercion in Security Studies, Routledge Publication, Oxford, 2008, p. 217. and Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence Now, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, p. 15-20. [6] Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence Now, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, p. 15.

[7] The idea reflected in this section of ‘unacceptable damage’ has largely based on the following article. Achin Vanaik, ‘Ten Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence’, The Little Magazine Vol III, Issue 5&6,, 2003 (accessed 6 March 2009).

[8] George Lee Butler headed the US Strategic Air Command for 12 years, was a key Presidential adviser between 1992, and 1995 and subsequently turned a nuclear disarmer.

[9] Achin Vanaik, ‘Ten Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence’, The Little Magazine Vol III, Issue 5&6,, 2003 (accessed 6 March 2009).

[10] Ward Wilson, ‘The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence’, The Nonproliferation Review, 15: 421 – 439,http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/33614__903544593.pdf, 2008, (accessed 18 March 2009).

[11] Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, Penguin Books, London, 2005, p. 218, 220, 222.

[12] Enthoven, Alain, Smith and Wayne, How much is enough? Shaping the Defense Program 1961-1969, Harper and Row, New York, 1971, p. 174, cited in Lawrence Freedman, ‘Assured Destruction’ in The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, Third Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2003, p. 233.

[13] Anders I. Thunborg, ‘Doctrines of Deterrence and Other Theories’ in Nuclear Weapons, Frances Pinter Limited, London, 1981, p. 113.

[14] Lewis A. Dunn, ‘New Nuclear Threats to U.S Security’ in New Nuclear Nations: Consequences for U.S Policy,Robert D. Blackwill & Albert Carnesale, Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York, 1993, p. 40.

[15] Robert Powell, ‘Nuclear Deterrence Theory, Nuclear Proliferation, and National Missile Defense’, International Security, 27: 86-118, , 2003 (accessed 28 February 2009).

[16] Sitakanta Mishra, The Challenge of Nuclear Terror, Knowledge World International, New Delhi, 2008, p. 5.

[17] Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Durr Jr, ‘Nuclear Deterrence in the Third Millennium’, Army War College, , 2002 (accessed 18 March 2009).

[18] Alan F. Philips, ‘20 Mishaps That Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War’, Nuclear Files, http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/issues/accidents/20-mishaps-maybe-caused-nuclear-war.htm, 1998 (accessed 18 March 2009).

[19] The statement has been incorporated from a speech, ‘The Risks of Nuclear Deterrence: From Superpowers to Rogue Leaders’ given at the National Press Club by General Lee Butler on 2nd February, 1998 available at , 1998 (accessed 18 March 2009).

[20] Binoy Kampmark, ‘America's nuclear deterrence in the age of terrorism - a discussion of U.S. foreign policy and nuclear policy in the present and past 20 years’, Contemporary Review, , 2003, (accessed 18 March 2009).

Aditi Malhotra is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi, India.

SOURCE: University for Peace, Peace and Conflict Monitor http://www.monitor.upeace.org/innerpg.cfm?id_article=752

Karzai’s Unrealistic Decree: Banning Private Contractors In Afghanistan

In August 2010, Afghan President Karzai ordered all the private security contractors in the country to close down their operations by January 1, 2011. While most analysts considered the deadline too near and the decree imprudent, some welcomed the move. Rolling back from the stipulations of the previous decision, on October 17, 2010, the Afghan government announced that private security firms that are responsible for the protection of embassies and military bases could continue their operations. Following this, on October 27, Karzai decided to extend the deadline for the ban.

The PMCs operating in Afghanistan have recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The report titled, ‘Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan’ of the US House of Representatives released in June this year exposed the perils of Washington’s policy of outsourcing security roles in Afghanistan. The report brought out the disturbing aspects of the contentious practice of hiring private contractors in war zones like Afghanistan.

Securing and maintaining the supply chain in Afghanistan has been one of the most challenging tasks for the U.S. forces and therefore presents numerous difficulties in conducting military operations and offering logistical support to over 200 forward operating bases dotted around the region. Consequently, this function was outsourced to private contractors. The main contract sustaining the U.S. supply chain in Afghanistan is Host Nation Trucking, a contract worth $2.16 billion, which was divided among eight Afghan, American, and Middle Eastern companies. Such a move led to grave consequences not premeditated.

To ease their operations and ensure safety, the private contractors ‘subcontracted’ warlords that may be susceptible to attacking them. This unintentionally stoked the practice of bribing warlords who maintain private armies and the money proved to be an important source of funding for the insurgents. Statistically, a third of the costs of logistics in Afghanistan are spent on paying protection, bribery and safe passage fees. The U.S. Congress recently voiced its concerns about the perils of PMCs and has sought to develop standards for PMCs and ensure greater accountability. However, it is important to note that complete execution of the plans could take years.

Even after all these odds and qualms about the effectiveness of the PMCs, the banning of the PMCs in Afghanistan as promulgated by Karzai seems highly impractical owing to numerous reasons. The primary reason is the unpreparedness of the Afghan security forces and the burgeoning insurgency in the country. The nature of the insurgency on the ground is much more complex. A parallel Tier 3 Taliban system is operating in numerous provinces and sometimes local warlords or local frustrations result in uprisings. The present preparedness of the Afghan National Police or the National Army is nothing close to the levels of preparedness needed to undertake roles that are currently being performed by the PMCs. Considering Kabul’s reliance on PMCs and the highly complicated insurgency, operations without the involvement of PMCs would only lead to a vacuum. This would pave way for an increase in the number of insurgent attacks on Afghan soil, further exacerbating the situation.

Further, the move would negatively affect the lives of numerous Afghan nationals (in range of 15,000 to 20,000) who depend of the industry for their living. It is important to note that under the decree, foreigners in the industry would lose their residency permits and Afghan nationals would be allowed to apply through the interior ministry for jobs in the Afghan Police force. While this move may seem reasonable, a sudden shift would be resisted by the nationals who were working for PMCs. This will be primarily because the salaries offered to Afghan forces are drastically low as compared to the salaries of the PMCs. Further, the immediate vacuum would worsen the security situation which may also delay the international developmental projects.

Another issue that makes the immediate ban unrealistic is the fact that most PMCs are owned by powerful Afghans. To illustrate, the owners of many private security firms have their family links with President Karzai. Therefore, the widespread nature and involvement of high profile Afghans in the business makes the move highly unlikely to materialise. As stated above, the Afghan government softened its stance on the ban and allowed the functioning of few PMCs in the region. However, as the time for the closing of operation nears, one can hope to have numerous interpretations of the decree and terms of leniency from the Afghan government. It would not be highly unlikely to see the Afghan government picking and choosing the PMCs it wishes to grant permission for operations. Also, this may indirectly purge the competition which the powerful Afghans tend to face in the business.

Moreover, while it is tougher to operate in Kabul without a license, the illegal contractors are placed outside Kabul, where the reach of the authorities is quite limited. Also, most of the PMCs outside Kabul do not work for the U.S. Government but offer their services to ‘other customers’. With limited influence of the governmental authorities outside Kabul, ensuring that the operations of illicit PMCs are ceased is rather ambitious.

What remains important at this juncture is to embark on immediate steps to bring the shift from PMCs to national forces in slow and planned in phases. A smooth transition would be realistic and would also ensure that the security environment of the country is not hampered. It is also important to define the role of private contractors and review the history of the contractors before offering them contracts and undertake periodic auditing.

Aditi Malhotra is a Research Assistant for the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi

SOURCE: Eurasia Review, http://www.eurasiareview.com/201011019357/karzais-unrealistic-decree-banning-private-contractors-in-afghanistan.html

Protecting the Jarawas

The strategic and commercial importance of the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands has been widely debated in the Indian political scenario. Of the 575 islands, only 38 are permanently inhabited. While the commercial and strategic issues have enjoyed a relatively higher media attention, some aspects continue to remain out of focus. One of the most idiosyncratic, but surprisingly recondite facets of the islands is the Jarawa Reserve, home of the Jarawa tribe. The tribe is threatened by extinction and a merely 273 members are alive today. The concern of extinction is further exacerbated due to the extinction of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Island, a tribe that had lived on the Island for almost 65,000 years. In January this year, the last Bo speaking tribal died marking the extinction of the Bo tribe and their language.

The presence of the Jarawa tribal group was officially recorded in 1857 and they have been known to practice hostility towards both other tribal communities like the Great Andamanese and British colonisers. Throughout recorded history, Jarawas have remained insulated in their habitat but commercialisation and increased migration in the Island is threatening their survival.

In the 1970s, the government authorised construction of the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR- NH 223), a 343 km long road that connects South Andaman, Baratang, Middle Andaman and North Andaman, from Chiriyatapu in South Andaman to Diglipur in the North. The construction commenced in 1973 and resulted in an array of problems for the Jarawa tribe. The deforestation led to loss of Jarawas natural habitat and employment of machinery for construction traumatised their population. The Jarawas resisted the construction by attacking the workers, and were supported by the scientists of the Anthropological Survey of India and some international NGOs. Unfortunately, the disagreements were brushed aside by the authorities. It is important to note that the road cut off Jarawas access to the East Coast further affecting their habitat and survival.

Commercial activities and increased usage of the road facilitated the arrival of poachers, loggers and human safaris to the vicinity of the tribal reserve. The Jarawas resisted contact with the outside world till 1998, when they initiated contact with the non-indigenous population in the Andaman. Due to the low immunity towards common ailments present in the modern world, their contact with the outsiders has led to epidemics resulting in reduction of their population. Furthermore, there have been reports about sexual exploitation of the Jarawa women by poachers and tour operators. Owing to immense pressure from national and international NGOs, the government sought to review the situation.

In May 2002, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of the ATR, logging activities and the resettlement of the non-indigenous population to areas outside the Jarawa vicinity. Another seemingly landmark decision that proved nugatory was a new policy in 2004 averring that the Jarawas had the right to self-determination and no intervention would take place in respect to their habitat and domain. The reality on ground though is starkly different. Rampant logging and poaching continues to plague the Jarawa Reserve and threaten the tribal community. Despite periodic public warnings issued by government, tour operators continue to promote tours in the reserve, highlighting the Jarawa tribe as the main attraction.

The hypocritical attitude of the authorities further complicates the issue. In October 2007, the Andaman & Nicobar administration notified that a buffer zone of 5-kilometre radius of reserve would be created as a No-Go zone in order to protect the tribe from any external intervention. However, a resort stood within the 5-km radius and a legal case was registered in the Calcutta High Court. To the consternation of many, the final verdict was in favour of the reserve. Moreover, the execution of the buffer-zone notification was not seen anywhere except on the government papers.

In March 2010, the Union Cabinet declared the Andaman & Nicobar Islands as a major port with Port Blair as the headquarters. The issues of the island’s strategic location and the need to boost tourism were highlighted along with the need to construct maritime infrastructural projects. The July 2010 amendment to the Andaman and Nicobar (Protection of Aboriginal Tribals) Regulation Act of 1956 permits the islands’ administration to ban private tourism within the buffer zone.

While this move seems to be quite comforting, the decision to declare the islands as a major port undermines the effects of the Act and aggravate the situation of the Jarawas. This should be seen in light of the fact that the decision to make the 5-km buffer zone was taken in 2007 but was never implemented. The seriousness of implementing it now is doubtful considering the degree of commercialisation that will ensue. The timing of revisiting the buffer zone seems to have been arrived at to pacify the concern of the NGOs that stand for the cause. Most laws pertaining to the tribals are ignored by the local administration which continues to manipulate them to suit its vested interests.

Analysts have disparate views with regard to the Jarawa’s assimilation with the outside world. While many consider the idea of insulating them in their domain, others propagate the possibility of slowly including them in the mainstream and gifting them with the benefits of a modern lifestyle. As noted by the late Govinda Raju, editor of The Light of Andamans,

“The people who know the ground realities are not incorporated in the decision making while others work for commercial benefits or are migrants and remain in [sic] the island for short period and therefore lack the much needed seriousness to tackle the problem. Sadly, it is the Jarawas who suffer while the authorities ignore the idea of approaching them and comprehending their concerns and desires before formulating policies. The absence of a credible plan of action or objective assessment of the needs of the Jarawas makes the case more complicated and they are left at the mercy of time and a nonchalant administration.”

Keeping in view the ecologically vulnerable location of the Andaman group of islands, the preservation of the Jarawa tribe would help in preventing natural disasters. The government can enforce this by deploying an ecological Territorial Army (TA) battalion on the periphery of the 5-km buffer zone to effectively enforce the Supreme Court ruling and preserve the flora and fauna of the region.

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

SOURCE: Pragati, The Indian National Interest Review http://pragati.nationalinterest.in/2010/10/protecting-the-jarawas/