Saturday, April 27, 2013

Future of U.S.-India Relations: Beyond the Plateau, report authored by scholars from the Heritage Foundation and Observer Research Foundation....

Here's a new report on the future of US-India relations, authored by scholars from the Heritage Foundation and the Observer Research Foundation. I have contributed one chapter to the report.

The report looks at India-US relations through five key drivers: economy, defense, regional security in East and Southwest Asia, nonproliferation, and counterterrorism.

The report is going to be launched in Washington DC on April 29, 2013.

To read full report, click here.




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Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

A review of my book, Clashing Titans, in Tribune... written by Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal....

Here's a review of my latest book, Clashing Titans: Military Strategy and Insecurity Among Asian Great Powers, written by Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal and published in Tribune, last Sunday, April 14, 2013.

The political, economic and military interplay between the major Asian powers, including China, India, Japan, Russia and the US, will define the emerging contours of the geo-strategic landscape. In this context, Rajeswari Rajagopalan's meticulously researched book is timely. It provides a uniquely Indian perspective on a subject of immense significance.

It takes stock of the military modernisation programmes of major Asian powers, attempts to understand their military strategies, provides an analysis of the mutual suspicions and insecurities being generated by the emerging military postures and theorises how these military powers as well as India might interact in future. Individual chapters look into the current threats and challenges confronting the major Asian powers, the military strategies adopted by them, the modernisation efforts underway to respond to emerging threats and the likely effectiveness of the planned responses.



PRESIDENT OBAMA announced in October 2011, that the United States will rebalance its global strategy and “pivot to Asia”. Soon after that, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta indicated that the bulk of the US Navy will redeploy from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. These moves are widely seen to be designed to counter China's growing power and influence as well as marked assertiveness in its maritime neighbourhood. In response to China's rise and uncharacteristic belligerence, its neighbours have begun to upgrade their military capabilities and simultaneously reinforce their relations.

The political, economic and military interplay between the major Asian powers, including China, India, Japan, Russia and the US, will define the emerging contours of the geo-strategic landscape. In this context, Rajeswari Rajagopalan's meticulously researched book is timely. It provides a uniquely Indian perspective on a subject of immense significance.

It takes stock of the military modernisation programmes of major Asian powers, attempts to understand their military strategies, provides an analysis of the mutual suspicions and insecurities being generated by the emerging military postures and theorises how these military powers as well as India might interact in future. Individual chapters look into the current threats and challenges confronting the major Asian powers, the military strategies adopted by them, the modernisation efforts underway to respond to emerging threats and the likely effectiveness of the planned responses.

The author notes that the US has contributed positively to peace and stability in Asia through power projection, the forward presence of its armed forces and unwavering military alliances, primarily with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. However, America's capacity to maintain its regional pre-eminence is gradually starting to erode, even as China's military capabilities are growing rapidly stronger. The author correctly notes that China's anti-access and area denial strategies —particularly the threat posed to carrier battle groups by the deployment of the DF-21D ASBM (anti-ship ballistic missile) in large numbers — are rapidly undermining US responsiveness.

While analysing how China's military modernisation and evolving strategies affect Indian security, the author states that India's standing within South Asia has been adversely impacted, that China might make new territorial claims. The emergence of a possible G-2 (China-US) scenario in international security will have a negative impact and that a growing Russia-China partnership will have “tactical and strategic implications for India.” While the attempt at G-2 cooperation in Asia was an early blunder in President Obama's first administration, the others are low- probability and low-impact scenarios.

The core truth facing India is that a militarily powerful China, which is also an economic powerhouse, continues to remain its foremost military threat as long as the unresolved territorial and boundary dispute between the two countries is not resolved satisfactorily. India must upgrade its military strategy from dissuasion to deterrence and speed up its own military modernisation if a disaster like that of 1962 is to be avoided in the eventuality that there is another border conflict between the two countries

a recent interview of mine on the new Chinese defence White Paper....

Here's a recent interview of mine on the new Chinese defence White Paper, conducted yesterday.

There may have some minor improvements in terms of giving some information on the PLA strength, this does not include the PAP, the militia or the Second Artillery Force (SAF). Information on the SAF is fairly important as they are in charge of China's missiles and strategic weapons.




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an interview of mine on China overtaking the UK as the fifth largest arms exported in the world....

Given here is a link to an interview of mine on China overtaking the UK as the fifth largest arms exported in the world.

The latest SIPRI arms transfer data showed that China has become the fifth largest arms importer in the world, a position that the UK had held for decades.





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an interview of mine on the overal state of bilateral relations between India and China....

Here's an interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV on the overall state of India-China relations, particularly in the political and strategic domains. This has been a few months old now.

Of course, the state of relations are not the best despite the fact that trade between the two sides has been strengthened in the last few years. However, the impact of trade and economic relations on the overall relations have been limited.




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China's E-Passport row... a few months back. an interview of mine with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV....

Here's another interview of mine, again with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV on the Chinese E-passport row....





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India-China economic dialogue... does trade alter the nature of interstate relations.... my interview with Phoenix TV

Here's an interview of mine on the strategic economic dialogue that took place between India and China on November 26, 2012. The interview was done a day before the dialogue looking at the prospects and challenges of this interaction.

Does trade really change the nature of relationships between states? If trade had such an influence, US and China should have been the best of friends!




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My interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV on India's approach to South China Sea, Southeast Asia.....

Here's an interview I did with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV on India's approach to Southeast Asia and on South China Sea.... The interview was done sometime in the beginning of the year.

How India approaches South China Sea and how it approaches its relations with countries such as Vietnam and Philippines will significantly impact on India's dealings with China, most particularly the border and territorial issues.





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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

UNIDIR annual space conference, "Space Security Conference 2013: Enhancing confidence, securing space stability" in Geneva, April 02-03, 2013

Recently, I was at the UNIDIR's annual space security conference titled, "Space Security Conference 2013: Enhancing confidence, securing space stability,"held at UN Headquarters, Geneva, on April 02-03, 2013. The annual space conference of the UNIDIR has become a signature event given the high level participation of all the different stakeholders. I was speaking on space security dialogues and how to ensure widespread representation.

My talk and the PPT are available online now.



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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

North Korean imbroglio: Who can do what?, my short essay on the subject.....

Here's a short essay on the situation in North Korea and who can do what to calm down the tempers?

While on the surface, both the US (and South Korea and Japan) and China appear to have the goal of seeing a stable Korean Peninsula, there appear to be serious differences about what regional stability means.




North Korea appears to be yet again on a war path with repeated provocations and increasing rhetoric for the past few months. It has also been a year since Kim Jong-un formally took over power. Power transfer to the new young leader has not however eased the policies in Pyongyang. In fact, the military-first politics of North Korea is continuing ever more fervently under Kim Jong-un. The situation may even be more dangerous under Kim Jong-un than the previous leaders because at least previous leaders were slightly more experienced and had a sense of the thresholds that must not be crossed.

This has serious implications for the region. The US, bound by its alliance commitments, has reassured its partners Japan and South Korea that the US will do what was necessary to any attack from North Korea. After his visit to Seoul, the US Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Beijing where he called upon China to step in actively to bring about restraint in Pyongyang’s behavior. Given that Pyongyang is already so isolated internationally and that China continues to be one of the few countries that maintain ties with the regime, Kerry said "China has an enormous capability to make a difference here." Thereafter, while in Tokyo, Kerry even softened up a bit to say, "Our choice is to negotiate, our choice is to move to the table and find a way for the region to have peace," but of course if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons programme.

What are the expectations from the region and beyond on China? Following the meeting with Chinese officials, there was much optimism with headlines like, "Kerry Hails Chinese North Korea Pledge", "China, United States to work together to calm down North Korea" and the like.

Will China rise to the occasion and do something? Would China step in as an active partner in bringing down the tempers in the Korean Peninsula? Are China and other regional powers on the same page as far as regional security is concerned?

Beijing’s continuing aid and trade relations with Pyongyang does offer it a leverage and one that can be used to extract some benefits in the interests of regional stability. However, China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi’s statement that "We advocate addressing and settling the problem through dialogue and consultation and by peaceful means," and that it is "the common responsibility of all" does not suggest that China is serious on extracting any conciliatory steps out of North Korea.

While on the surface, both the United States (and South Korea and Japan) and China appear to have the goal of seeing a stable Korean Peninsula, there appear to be serious differences about what regional stability means. It appears that Chinese perspective on regional stability is driven by a narrow objective of ensuring no internal crisis in Pyongyang which will drive a large number of refugees into China; and second, that there is no US military presence near its borders. This vision differs sharply with that of the others who perceive a denuclearized North Korea that respects human right for its people as an essential step to regional stability. This time around, at least in its rhetoric, China has made calls for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which was not the case earlier.

Does the Chinese rhetoric for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula mean anything if it fails to act on North Korea? What could be the potential rationale for China not to act on Pyongyang? One, it may be a buffer between China and the US and its allies in the neighbourhood. So, it may be in China’s interests to sustain the regime but under limits and one that does not engage in repeated provocations that reinstate the role of external players, particularly that of the US.

On the other hand, it is possible that China may not enjoy the same clout as it did earlier vis a vis the new regime in North Korea. It is a fact that the new leader has not much of a contact with the new leadership in China nor has Kim Jong-un undertaken a visit to Beijing to solidify relations between the new leadership teams in both countries. And if one were to go by a Wikileaks report, it may be true that China is beginning to be frustrated with North Korea including over the increasing belligerent approach and the failing economy of Pyongyang. While there is a grain of truth in these reports, the Chinese response to some of the recent incidents including the Cheonan sinking or the repeated missile tests suggest otherwise.

While China may be increasingly getting frustrated with the North Korean leadership, they remain the sole friend and benefactor, extending the much needed economic, political and moral support to the Kim Jong-un regime. Therefore, China remains the sole country that has some leeway in bringing the North Korean situation under control. The west should not get carried away by the Chinese pledges and open rhetoric and instead get China to act on its words.

It may also be in the interests of China to see that North Korean nuclear programme is rolled back because if Pyongyang were to continue with repeated tests including that of its delivery vehicles, it would only strengthen the regional insecurities prompting Seoul and Tokyo to contemplate all options including potential nuclearisation. While China may see immediate short-term benefits in not acting strongly against the Pyongyang leadership in curbing its nuclear programme, the end result of a nuclear Seoul or Tokyo may be much harder for China to live with. Therefore, taking strong measures and going beyond the rhetoric on North Korea may be in the long-term interests of China as well.

Friday, April 12, 2013

India and ATT: A Contrarian View

Should India be paranoid about the ATT? Could India have voted for a global measure governing transfer of arms? Here's my short essay on the ATT....

India should look at ways to become an active party in arms trade treaty debates if it has to prove its credentials in global governance. While advancing its global governance role, India will have to also ensure that its arms procurement is not adversely affected.



Developing the first ever instrument to regulate the sale of conventional weapons, the UN General Assembly adopted Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on April 02, 2013. And the treaty will be opened for signature on June 03, 2013.

There have been efforts for some time to bring the global arms trade under some regulatory framework. Negotiations over the ATT in the last several years did not produce any agreement, given the difficulties in producing a consensual decision at the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Despite the lack of agreement, the treaty was put to vote at the UN General Assembly on April 02, 2013. While the treaty found favour among 154 countries, 3 countries (Iran, North Korea and Syria) voted against it at the CD and 23 countries including Russia, China and India abstained. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon hailed the treaty as a major achievement saying, "It is a historic diplomatic achievement - the culmination of long-held dreams and many years of effort. This is a victory for the world's people."

The ATT is a good measure that will bring about the much-needed regulation in the field of arms transfer from one country to another. It brings arms transfers of a variety of weapons under its purview, including battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers. The ATT, however, has come under criticism for being concluded in haste. Any arms control measure should be carried on at a comfortable pace to all that can potentially ensure greater participation, and thereby greater compliance.

India, in its statement, pointed out two major flaws with the ATT: the treaty gives an upper hand to arms exporting countries and ignores the needs of the arms importing states; and two, arms sales to terrorist and insurgent groups do not fall within the purview of the treaty.

The principal fear within India is that the ATT would give external arms manufactures the license to cancel bilateral contracts at will, based on political reasons, which could seriously affect India's military preparedness, especially if it were to happen during crises. What then happens to contractual obligations?

On the other hand, it could be argued that neither of these are very serious concerns. On the terrorist issue, while it is nice to have state control on supply of arms to terrorist groups, it is not particularly practical. No international treaty is likely to stop states like Pakistan from supplying arms to terrorist groups.

On supplier obligations, any country that reneges on an arms supply contract with India would lose access to the Indian arms market, which is a huge and growing market.

Nevertheless, this is a threat. If countries were to decide and cancel the contract, how seriously is India likely to be affected? With India's reliance on foreign suppliers continuing to be at around 70%, several procurements could indeed get affected. However, India could find ways to get around these measures by demanding guarantees in future contracts.

In this regard, India should be more concerned about some of the western suppliers, in particular the US and the UK, because they are also some of the key supporters of the treaty. Of particular concern has been the inclusion of ammunition, parts and components of weapon systems as part of the ATT that could potentially squeeze recipient countries during crises.

But India continues to buy a large chunk of arms and weapon systems from Russia which is not a subscriber to ATT. France is a country that has subscribed to the treaty and is also a major supplier of arms to India. Nevertheless, going by India's past experience, France will find a political solution to deal with such situation.

Therefore, India should carefully choose the countries from whom it is seeking to buy weapons and other advanced systems. It should ensure that it finds partners that are not necessarily subscribers to ATT or those that will find political modus vivendi should a problem arise. India could also seek political guarantees from supplier countries that will ensure steady supply of arms. India can also enter into joint ventures as a way of safeguarding its interests. Under such circumstances, the impact is likely to be minimal.

Lastly, India should look at ways to become an active party in these debates if it has to prove its credentials in global governance. While advancing its global governance role, India will have to also ensure that its arms procurement is not adversely affected.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Story on China's missile defense test in the March issue of Arms Control Today... quotes mua too....

Here's a story on China's missile defense test by Timothy Farnsworth in the March issue of Arms Control Today. quotes mua too....

China successfully launched a land-based missile interceptor Jan. 28, according to Xinhua, the country’s official news agency.

In a statement released after the test, a Chinese Defense Ministry official said it had accomplished “the pre-set goal,” but did not say what the goal was. The test was “defensive in nature and target[ed] no other country,” he said.

It was not clear from the Chinese statement whether the test involved a target for the interceptor to hit. China’s only previous missile interceptor test, on Jan. 11, 2010, did involve a target.



In 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) test, destroying one of its own satellites instead of a test warhead. (See ACT, March 2007.) That test prompted objections from numerous countries, in part because of the debris it created. The two later tests took place at a lower altitude and created no debris.

In a Feb. 12 interview, Li Bin, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the latter two tests were focused on developing and understanding missile-intercept technology rather than assessing the performance of a deployable missile defense system.

According to Li, the Chinese versions of the statements released after each of those tests were identical. Li said, however, that the official English translation of the Jan. 28 statement omitted the word “technology” from the phrase “land-based mid-course missile interception technology test,” the term that China used in 2010. He said the use of the word “technology” indicates that China was trying to better understand missile defense capabilities and was not testing in order to deploy a national missile defense system.

Li said Beijing has three options: keeping the technology in reserve, deploying a regional missile defense system around major cities, and deploying a national system. Li said the first two options are more likely because it would be too costly to create a national system that could defend against an adversary that has a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Experts disagree on whether the main goal of the Chinese program is to develop a national missile defense system or an ASAT system. In a Feb. 20 e-mail to Arms Control Today, David Shlapak, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, said that there are differences in the development paths for the two systems. The numbers of interceptors and the “engagement dynamics”—the way the interceptors strike the target object—associated with targeting an enemy’s satellites “are much easier to manage than those associated with large-scale missile defense,” he said.

“I don’t think that the testing we’ve seen to date reveals much about China’s intentions. China could be experimenting with technology, seeking to develop a real capability, or sending a message,” he said. “Unless and until we see more activity, it’s going to be hard to make a conclusive determination.”

Previous Tests

In 2007, China destroyed an aging weather satellite with a hit-to-kill interceptor approximately 850 kilometers above the earth. According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, the tally of space debris created by the test had reached 3,037 pieces as of September 2010, of which 97 percent remained in orbit. Much of the international community, including the United States, condemned the test, which U.S. officials often cite as an example of how space has become more “congested, contested, and competitive.”

According to a January 2010 State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks, the target of the 2010 test was a CSS-X011 medium-range ballistic missile rather than a satellite and took place at an altitude of 250 kilometers, much lower than the 2007 test. But the two tests used the same interceptor vehicle, the SC-19, the cable said. The cable also said that U.S. missile-warning satellites detected the launch of the interceptor and the target missile, as well as the actual interception.

International Reaction

The United States and other countries have expressed concerns about China’s ASAT and missile defense tests. In a Jan. 29 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a State Department official said, in regard to the 2007 ASAT test, “the United States has consistently urged Beijing through diplomatic, military-to-military, and scientific channels not to conduct further anti-satellite weapons testing in space.”

India, another country that has nuclear weapons and a growing space program, recently increased its own missile defense testing and closely watches China’s ASAT and missile defense tests. (See ACT, January/February 2013.)

According to Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, the 2007 Chinese ASAT test sparked a debate within and outside India’s government, “forcing a re-evaluation of India’s policy against militarization of space.” In a Feb. 20 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Rajagopalan, a former assistant director of India’s National Security Council Secretariat, said that since the 2007 test, “there has been fresh pressure brought about for an Indian ASAT system” and “a need for India to have demonstrated ASAT capability.” Although the Indian government has not made a total shift in its policy, “[t]he growing Chinese capabilities (be it ASAT or missile defense capabilities) have clearly upped the ante in the region,” Rajagopalan said.

She questioned the effectiveness of the “space security regime” and the ability “of the major global powers to respond [to] and affect” China’s behavior. “India has continued to argue for [a] legally binding mechanism to deal with the myriad challenges [of the] space domain,” Rajagopalan said.

China replaces UK as the fifth largest arms exporter in the world.... my interview on the subject with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV....

The most recent SIPRI data showed that China had overtaken US as the fifth largest arms importer in the world. 70 per cent of these exports goes to South Asia and around 55 per cent goes to Pakistan. This does have serious implications for India and the broad southern Asian region.

I discussed some of these issues recently in an interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV....





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