Archive for the ‘Middle East’ category

American War and Iraqi People

28 October, 2010

 

The Iraq War in Context

Paul Rogers, October 2010

http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/monthly_briefings/iraq_war_context

 

Internal US military logs on the Iraq War released by Wikileaks on 22 October have raised numerous issues about coalition behaviour, including attacks on civilians, as well as collusion in covering up the abuse and killing of prisoners. The document releases also show that coalition forces kept numerous records of civilian casualties while claiming that “We do not do body counts”. On this issue, a full analysis of the vast number of records will take many months, but extensive work already undertaken by Iraq Body Count – a partner organisation of ORG – shows that the logs contain details of at least 15,000 civilian deaths not previously recorded. Adding the new information to the careful monitoring carried out by IBC since the war started, indicates that around 150,000 violent deaths related to the conflict have been recorded since the war began, with 122,000 of them being civilian.

While the majority of all the civilian deaths resulted from insurgent action or because of the extensive inter-communal conflict that developed after the initial occupation, some tens of thousands stemmed from coalition military action. Furthermore, once Iraq had been occupied by US and other coalition forces, those forces were legally responsible for maintaining order in what was now an occupied territory. This they failed to do.

If lessons are to be learnt from the Iraq War, among the key questions are, why were so many civilians killed by coalition forces, and why were the coalition forces unable to contain the rapidly developing insurgency? There is enough information available to provide answers to these questions, but much of the analysis has to relate to events unfolding right at the start of the war.

Expectations

Although it is commonly believed that the cause of the problems faced by the Coalition forces in Iraq was a lack of post-war planning, in reality there was a very clear vision of what would happen once the Saddam Hussein regime had been terminated. The occupation was to be run from the Pentagon, rather than the State Department, a Coalition Provisional Authority would be established that was directly responsible to the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and all the old Iraqi government ministries would initially be headed by coalition personnel. By June 2003, three months after the invasion, Paul Bremmer had been appointed Head of the CPA and there was then a clear expectation of how Iraq would develop. This would be on full free market lines, the aim being to have a pro-western administration established in Baghdad that would oversee the privatisation of nationalised industries and the opening up of Iraq to foreign investment with a flat-rate tax system and a minimum of financial regulation.

Iraq would thus develop into a model free market economy that might be followed, in due course, across the region. The Department of Defense also looked to establish four large permanent military bases, ensuring long-term Iraqi security while constraining any of Iran’s regional ambitions. Given the extent of the Persian Gulf oil reserves – over 60% of world totals – this would be particularly valuable in relation to long-term US security interests. All of these ambitions were predicated on an easy overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime and on the presumption that such radical change would be widely welcomed by the Iraqis.

It is also essential to remember that regime termination in Iraq was seen within the US military as a direct response to 9/11 . In his January 2002 State of the Union address President George W Bush had extended the concept of the war on terror against al-Qaida to encompass an “axis of evil” of states supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction, with Iraq the most immediate threat. The war started within 18 months of 9/11, and the US Army and Marines entering Iraq saw it entirely in this context. To them, any opposition to what they saw as the fully justified response to the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon was not viewed as resistance to occupation but as terrorism.

Outcomes

Right from the start of the war on 20 March 2003, these presumptions were turned on their head. By the time the US forces had occupied Baghdad, just three weeks later, military units right across southern Iraq were facing serious opposition from large numbers of irregular Iraqi forces. The first suicide bomb attack on a US unit happened in the second week of the war, and so great was the threat to the crucial supply lines through from Kuwait to Baghdad that the equivalent of three Army brigades were diverted to protect the supply lines. This was approximately 30% of all the available combat troops and represented a completely different dynamic to that anticipated by the planners.

Almost from the start, there were incidents of US forces facing paramilitary attacks and responding with heavy use of firepower, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries. This was little reported at the time, in the near-euphoria of an apparently easy dismantling of the regime. However, the practice of embedding journalists with military units did mean that some accounts surfaced at a very early stage, even if largely ignored by analysts at the time. In one incident, within a few hours of a Marines advance into Baghdad, the International Herald Tribune published one example:

Caught in the crossfire, according to a chilling account by an Associated Press reporter, were a number of pedestrians, including an old man with a cane, looking confused. When he failed to heed three warning shots by the Marines, they killed him. A red van and an orange-and-white taxi were also riddled with bullets after they failed to heed warning shots.

As the war progressed over the next year, the US Army and Marines Corps found themselves facing a very heavily embedded insurgency fighting in a largely urban environment. This was almost entirely unexpected and was being faced by forces primarily trained for conventional combat rather than urban counter-insurgency.

Moreover, the attitude of the US forces was affected by the nature of the casualties. In conventional warfare during the Vietnam era, a very large proportion of seriously injured troops died on the battlefield. For every soldier killed, three might survive with serious injuries. By the time of the Iraq War, huge improvements in battlefield medicine, rapid casualty evacuation and body armour meant that far more seriously injured troops survived. They often did so, though, with appalling injuries, especially to the face, throat and groin, and with the loss of limbs. Young soldiers and Marines therefore saw many of their comrades affected in this way, and the psychological impact was great.

Moreover, they saw the people inflicting these deaths and terrible injuries as terrorists opposing an entirely justified operation by a country that had suffered a massive attack on its own civilians. As a consequence, and as the war developed during 2003 and 2004, it became more and more common for US forces to rely heavily on one of their few military advantages over the insurgents – their overwhelming firepower whether delivered by artillery, multiple rocket launchers, helicopter gun-ships or strike aircraft.

Some scattered evidence of this trend emerged slowly, usually through reports from embedded journalists, but the full impact was scarcely recognised in the United States or Western Europe. One incident which illustrates the nature of the conflict was reported on 15 April 2004 by a foreign correspondent with the Washington Post, Pamela Constable. She was attached to a Marines unit operating in the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. The city was becoming a centre of the insurgency and on one occasion a supply convoy was edging towards a Marines post on the edge of the US-controlled area of the city when it was attacked, some of the vehicles becoming isolated within a built-up area. A large rescue column was organised, with tanks and strike aircraft in support, and this fought a three-hour battle with insurgents before the Marines in the original convoy could withdraw safely, albeit with some injuries.

At least 20 insurgents were reported killed when the conflict finally ended at dusk but the rescue operation was seen as a success. A local US commander was quoted in the Washington Post article:

“This is a story about heroes. It shows the tenacity of the Marines and their fierce loyalty to each other. They were absolutely unwilling to leave their brother Marines behind.”

The level of resistance experienced by the Marine supply convoy was far greater than expected and what then happened is highly significant. To quote the Washington Post again:

“Just before dawn, Wednesday… AC-130 Spectre gun-ships launched a devastating punitive raid over a six-block area around where the convoy was attacked, firing dozens of artillery shells that shook the city and lit up the sky. Marine officials said the area was virtually destroyed and that no further insurgent activity has been seen there.”

The AC-130 is a development of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules which has side-mounted machine guns and a powerful 105mm howitzer. The plane circles a target area firing the weapons with considerable accuracy at a designated target area. The howitzer, in particular, has a devastating effect, capable of firing 200 high explosive shells in a matter of minutes. The attack on the Fallujah neighbourhood, several hours after the ambush, was the equivalent of destroying a small town and was, as the Post reported, a punitive raid. The human impact on that part of the city, especially on the families living there, was not reported.

This incident in Fallujah was one of the few that came to light at the time, another being an incident near the city of Baquba later in 2004. There, a US Army unit was engaged in a bitter fire-fight with insurgents, eventually overcoming opposition but only with great difficulty. The angered soldiers killed some insurgents and then strapped their bodies to the bonnets of the jeeps, like hunting trophies, and paraded them through the city, an embedded journalist reporting on the sullen crowd that witnessed this. To the soldiers this was an action that spoke of their deep frustration at this protracted opposition from men regarded as terrorists. For the local people it added further to their opposition to occupation.

The Fallujah and Baquba incidents are two of the few examples reported at the time but many more have since been identified, some of them in the documents just released. They confirm an overall picture of the sheer anger and bitterness experienced by so many American military units, faced with an insurgency that was entirely unexpected and for which they were largely untrained.

Responsibilities

Seeking to understand the behaviour of the coalition forces – especially the troops on the ground – is in no way an attempt to justify it. Indeed many of the actions may well amount to war crimes. What it does try to do, though, is to put it in context. What happened in Fallujah and Baquba, and what was repeated many times across Iraq, was a consequence of the original decision to go to war. This, in turn, was a core part of the Bush administration’s determination to extend the conflict against al-Qaida to a much wider conflict against an axis of evil.

This was a political decision taken by those at the core of the Bush administration and it is there that responsibility finally lies. The recent revelations confirm in some detail what was already widely suspected and lend further support to the case for a fundamental reappraisal of the entire war. More generally, and in relation to civilian casualties, they offer support for a movement within significant elements of international civil society that is beginning to attract attention. This is based on the argument that any party that embarks on a war should report in detail on the people it kills and injuries and on the circumstances of those actions. It may take years for such an apparently straightforward task to be widely accepted but, if it eventually is, then a much more accurate understanding of the true costs of war might become possible.

 

Paul Rogers is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group (ORG). His international security monthly briefings are available from the ORG website at www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk, where visitors can sign-up to receive them via email each month.

 

In the News: America’s Secret War in Pakistan

23 September, 2010

In historical parallel to US operations in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War, America is now engaged in a secret war in Afghanistan.

“Counterterrorist Pursuit Team: 3,000 Man CIA Paramilitary Force Hunts Militants In Afghanistan, Pakistan”.

KIMBERLY DOZIER and ADAM GOLDMAN

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/22/counterterrorist-pursuit-_n_734961.html

WASHINGTON — The CIA has trained and bankrolled a well-paid force of elite Afghan paramilitaries for nearly eight years to hunt al-Qaida and the Taliban for the CIA, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Modeled after U.S. special forces, the Counterterrorist Pursuit Team was set up in the months following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 to penetrate territory controlled by the Taliban and al-Qaida and target militants for interrogations by CIA officials.

The 3,000-strong Afghan teams are used for surveillance and long-range reconnaissance missions and some have trained at CIA facilities in the United States. The force has operated in Kabul and some of Afghanistan’s most violence-wracked provinces including Kandahar, Khost, Paktia and Paktika, according to a security professional familiar with the program.

The security official and former intelligence officials spoke about the Afghan force on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive information.

The secret Afghan force has emerged as a new component of ramped-up American counter-terror operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan and against al-Qaida and allies over the mountainous border in Pakistan. The U.S. military, including special operations forces, has been working with the CIA in an intensified crackdown against militants on both sides of the border.

Drone strikes run by the CIA are at their highest level yet against Afghan Taliban, Haqqani and al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan, while U.S. special operations forces have been staging combined raids with Afghan army special forces against the midlevel leadership that operates on the Afghan side.

The Afghan pursuit teams were described in detail in Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars,” due out Monday. Woodward reported that the units conducted covert operations inside neighboring Pakistan’s lawless border areas as part of a campaign against al-Qaida and Taliban havens.

Pakistan allows U.S. special operations forces to enter the border region only for limited training missions. The use of Afghan paramilitaries to carry out spying activities will likely inflame already frayed political relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We do not allow any foreign troops or militia to operate on our side of the border,” Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said. “There are no reports of any such incident, and, should it happen in future, they will be fired upon by our troops.”

Unlike regular Afghan army commandos, the CIA-run Afghan paramilitary units mostly work independently from CIA paramilitary or special operations forces but will occasionally combine forces for an operation. Despite operating independently, the units coordinate their operations with NATO, the security professional said.

The Afghan force became the focus of a debate last year between CIA and military officials over who would control its operations. The CIA remained the lead agency, the former official said. The paramilitaries earn generous salaries compared to Afghans employed by the army or police.

The CIA-run Afghan paramilitary in Kandahar were compensated on an elite pay scale, according to human rights investigators. The average paramilitary in the force could earn $340 a month while a regiment head could take home as much as $1,000.

In Uruzgan, the U.S. pays members $300 to $320 per month. In comparison, a freshly recruited Afghan solider in troubled Helmand province earns about $240 a month. And Afghan policemen make an average starting salary of only about $140 per month. Even the Taliban reportedly pays its footsoldiers about $250 to $300 a month.

While U.S. officials insist the paramilitary forces have an excellent record, at least one unit stumbled badly in the past. The Kandahar branch paramilitaries shot and killed Kandahar’s police chief and nine other Afghan police officials in 2009 over a dispute after one of its own members was arrested. During their face-off with the police chief, the paramilitaries were wearing uniforms and guns bought by the CIA.

Current and former U.S. officials said the incident had been reviewed fully and that the review found that CIA officers had no prior knowledge that the Afghans had intended to go on a killing spree. One U.S. official said the review showed that the incident was not typical of the force and that the paramilitaries were reacting to what they viewed as the unfair arrest of one their people by one of their rivals.

Jonathan Horowitz, a human rights expert working with the Open Society Institute, said: “These paramilitary groups operate in such a cloak of secrecy that accountability for their abuses is nearly impossible for most Afghans. These forces don’t fall under an Afghan military chain of command, and if a civilian is killed or maimed, the U.S. can say it wasn’t the fault of the U.S.

Horowitz added that Afghan civilians have regularly accused these paramilitary groups of physical abuse and theft of property during night raids, conduct that he said taints Afghan views of the U.S. forces who arm, train and pay them.

___

Dozier reported from Kabul. Associated Press writer Chris Brummitt in Islamabad contributed to this report.

The New Great Game in the Caucasus

15 August, 2010

“The Caucasus Cauldron”

7 July 2010

By George Friedman

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100706_caucasus_cauldron?utm_source=GWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100707&utm_content=readmore&elq=e547a8616b0640f28fa24c6ee8b11e9e

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited some interesting spots over the July 4 weekend. Her itinerary included Poland and Ukraine, both intriguing choices in light of the recent Obama-Medvedev talks in Washington. But she also traveled to a region that has not been on the American radar screen much in the last two years — namely, the Caucasus — visiting Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The stop in Poland coincided with the signing of a new agreement on ballistic missile defense and was designed to sustain U.S.-Polish relations in the face of the German-Russian discussions we have discussed. The stop in Ukraine was meant simply to show the flag in a country rapidly moving into the Russian orbit. In both cases, the trip was about the Russians. Regardless of how warm the atmospherics are between the United States and Russia, the fact is that the Russians are continuing to rebuild their regional influence and are taking advantage of European disequilibrium to build new relationships there, too. The United States, still focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, has limited surplus capacity to apply to resisting the Russians. No amount of atmospherics can hide that fact, certainly not from the Poles or the Ukrainians. Therefore, if not a substantial contribution, the secretary of state’s visit was a symbolic one. But when there is little of substance, symbols matter.

That the Poland and Ukraine stops so obviously were about the Russians makes the stops in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia all the more interesting. Clinton’s statements during the Caucasian leg of her visit were positive, as one would expect. She expressed her support for Georgia without committing the United States to any arms shipments for Georgia to resist the Russians, who currently are stationed inside Georgia’s northern secessionist regions. In Azerbaijan and Armenia, she called on both countries to settle the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region within western Azerbaijan proper. Armenia took control of the region by force following the Soviet collapse. For Azerbaijan, the return of Nagorno-Karabakh under a U.N. resolution is fundamental to its national security and political strategy. For Armenia, retreat is not politically possible.

This means Clinton’s call for negotiations and her offer of U.S. help are not particularly significant, especially since the call was for Washington to help under the guise of international, not bilateral, negotiations. This is particularly true after Clinton seemed to indicate that the collapse in Turkish-Armenian talks was Turkey’s responsibility and that it was up to Turkey to make the next move. Given that her visit to the region seems on the surface to have achieved little — and indeed, little seems to have been intended — it is worth taking time to understand why she went there in the first place, and the region’s strategic significance.

The Strategic Significance of the Caucasus

The Caucasus is the point where Russia, Iran and Turkey meet. For most of the 19th century, the three powers dueled for dominance of the region. This dispute froze during the Soviet period but is certainly in motion again. With none of these primary powers directly controlling the region, there are secondary competitions involving Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, both among these secondary powers and between the secondary powers and the major powers. And given that the region involves the Russians, Iranians and Turks, it is inevitable that the global power would have an interest as well — hence, Hillary Clinton’s visit.

Of all the regions of the world, this one is among the most potentially explosive. It is the most likely to draw in major powers and the most likely to involve the United States. It is quiet now — but like the Balkans in 1990, quiet does not necessarily reassure any of the players. Therefore, seven players are involved in a very small space. Think of it as a cauldron framed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, occasionally stirred by Washington, for whom each of the other three major powers poses special challenges of varying degrees.

The Caucasus region dominates a land bridge between the Black and Caspian seas. The bridge connects Turkey and Iran to the south with Russia in the north. The region is divided between two mountain ranges, the Greater Caucasus to the north and the Lesser Caucasus in the south; and two plains divided from one another, one in Western Georgia on the Black Sea and another, larger plain in the east in Azerbaijan along the Kura River. A narrow river valley cuts through Georgia, connecting the two plains.

The Greater Caucasus Mountains serve as the southern frontier of Russia. To the north of these mountains, running east to west, lies the Russian agricultural heartland, flat and without any natural barriers. Thus, ever since the beginning of the 19th century, Russia has fought for a significant portion of the Caucasus to block any ambitions by the Turkish or Persian empires. The Caucasus mountains are so difficult to traverse by major military forces that as long as Russia maintains a hold somewhere in the Caucasus, its southern frontier is secure. During the latter part of the 19th century and for most of the Soviet period (except a brief time at the beginning of the era), the Soviet position in the Caucasus ran along the frontier with Turkey and Persia (later Iran). Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were incorporated into the Soviet Union, giving the Soviets a deep penetration of the Caucasus and, along with this, security.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the three Caucasian republics broke free of Moscow, pushing Russia’s frontier north by between about 160 to 320 kilometers (100-200 miles). The Russians still maintained a position in the Caucasus, but their position was not secure. The northern portion of the Caucasus consisted of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and others, all of which had significant Islamist insurgencies under way. If the Russians abandoned the northeastern Caucasus, their position was breached. But if they stood, they faced an interminable fight.

Georgia borders most of the Russian frontier. In the chaos of the fall of the Soviet Union, various Georgian regions attempted to secede from Georgia with Russian encouragement. From the Georgian point of view, Russia represented a threat. But from the Russian point of view, Georgia represented a double threat. First, the Russians suspected the Georgians of supporting Chechen rebels in the 1990s — a charge the Georgians deny. The more important threat was that the United States selected Georgia as its main ally in the region. The choice made sense if the United States was conducting an encirclement strategy of Russia, which Washington was doing in the 1990s (though it became somewhat distracted from this strategy after 2001). In response to what it saw as U.S. pressure around its periphery, the Russians countered in Georgia in 2008 to demonstrate U.S. impotence in the region.

The Russians also maintained a close relationship with Armenia, where they continue to station more than 3,000 troops. The Armenians are deeply hostile to the Turks over demands that Turkey admit to massacres of large number of Armenians in 1915-16. The Armenians and Turks were recently involved in negotiations over the normalization of relations, but these talks collapsed — in our view, because of Russian interference. The issue was further complicated when a U.S. congressional committee passed a resolution in March condemning Turkey for committing genocide, infuriating the Turks.

One of the countercharges against Armenia is that it has conducted its own massacres of Azerbaijanis. Around the time of the Soviet breakup, it conducted a war against Azerbaijan, replete with the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis in a region known as Nagorno-Karabakh in western Azerbaijan, leaving Azerbaijan with a massive refugee problem. While the U.N. Security Council condemned the invasion, the conflict has been frozen, to use the jargon of diplomats.

The Importance of Azerbaijan

For its part, Azerbaijan cannot afford to fight a war against Russian troops in Armenia while it also shares a northern border with Russia. Azerbaijan also faces a significant Iranian problem. There are more Azerbaijanis living in Iran than in Azerbaijan; Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a prominent Azerbaijani-Iranian. The Soviets occupied all of Azerbaijan during World War II but were forced to retreat under British and American pressure after the war, leaving most of Azerbaijan inside Iran. The remainder became a Soviet republic and then an independent state.

The Azerbaijanis are deeply concerned about the Iranians. Azerbaijan is profoundly different from Iran. It is Muslim but heavily secular. It maintains close and formal relations with Israel. It has supported the war in Afghanistan and made logistical facilities available to the United States. The Azerbaijanis claim that Iran is sending clerics north to build Shiite schools that threaten the regime. Obviously, Iran also operates an intelligence network there.

Adding to the complexity, Azerbaijan has long been a major producer of oil and has recently become an exporter of natural gas near the capital of Baku, exporting it to Turkey via a pipeline passing through Georgia. From the Turkish point of view, this provides alternative sources of energy to Russia and Iran, something that obviously pleases the United States. It is also an obvious reason why Russia sees Azerbaijan as undermining its position as the region’s dominant energy exporter.

The Russians have an interest, demonstrated in 2008, to move southward into Georgia. Obviously, if they were able to do this — preferably by a change in government and policy in Tbilisi — they would link up with their position in Armenia, becoming a force both on the Turkish border and facing Azerbaijan. The Russians would like to be able to integrate Azerbaijan’s exports into its broader energy policy, which would concentrate power in Russian hands and increase Russian influence on Russia’s periphery. This was made clear by Russia’s recent offer to buy all of Azerbaijan’s natural gas at European-level prices. The Turks would obviously oppose this for the same reason the Russians would want it. Hence, the Turks must support Georgia.

Iran, which should be viewed as an Azerbaijani country as well as a Persian one, has two reasons to want to dominate Azerbaijan. First, it would give Tehran access to Baku oil, and second, it would give Tehran strategic bargaining power with the Russians, something it does not currently have. In addition, talk of present unrest in Iran notwithstanding, Iran’s single most vulnerable point in the long term is the potential for Azerbaijanis living in Iran to want to unite with an independent Azerbaijani state. This is not in the offing, but if any critical vulnerability exists in the Iranian polity, this is it.

Consider this from the American side. When we look at the map, we notice that Azerbaijan borders both Russia and Iran. That strategic position alone makes it a major asset to the United States. Add to it oil in Baku and investment by U.S. companies, and Azerbaijan becomes even more attractive. Add to this that its oil exports support Turkey and weaken Russian influence, and its value goes up again. Finally, add to it that Turkey infuriated Azerbaijan by negotiating with Armenia without tying the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh to any Turkish-Armenian settlement. Altogether, the United States has the opportunity to forge a beneficial relationship with Azerbaijan that would put U.S. hands on one of Turkey’s sources of oil. At a time when the Turks recognize a declining dependence on the United States, anything that could increase that dependence helps Washington. Moreover, Azerbaijan is a platform from which Washington could make the Iranians uncomfortable, or from which to conduct negotiations with Iran.

An American strategy should include Georgia, but Georgia is always going to be weaker than Russia, and unless the United States is prepared to commit major forces there, the Russians can act, overtly and covertly, at their discretion. A Georgian strategy requires a strong rear base, which Azerbaijan provides, not only strategically but also as a source of capital for Georgia. Georgian-Azerbaijani relations are good, and in the long run so is Turkey’s relation with these two countries.

For Azerbaijan, the burning issue is Nagorno-Karabakh. This is not a burning issue for the United States, but the creation of a stable platform in the region is. Armenia, by far the weakest country economically, is allied with the Russians, and it has Russian troops on its territory. Given that the United States has no interest in who governs Nagorno-Karabakh and there is a U.N. resolution on the table favoring Azerbaijan that serves as cover, it is difficult to understand why the United States is effectively neutral. If the United States is committed to Georgia, which is official policy, then it follows that satisfying Azerbaijan and bringing it into a close relationship to the United States would be beneficial to Washington’s ability to manage relations with Russia, Iran and Turkey.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Azerbaijan a month ago and Clinton visited this weekend. As complex as the politics of this region are to outsiders, they are clearly increasing in importance to the United States. We could put it this way: Bosnia and Kosovo were obscure concepts to the world until they blew up. Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are equally obscure now. They will not remain obscure unless strategic measures are taken. It is not clear to us that Clinton was simply making a courtesy call or had strategy on her mind. But the logic of the American position is that it should think strategically about the Caucasus, and in doing so, logic and regional dynamics point to a strong relationship with Azerbaijan.

John Pilger on Wars and ‘Wars of Perception’

12 July, 2010

“The Charge of the Media Brigade”

By John Pilger

ON LINE Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10668

First published in New Statesman on 8 July 2010.

The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the first execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years. “He had a choice,” said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad”. “Wow!” said the anchorwoman. Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, teeth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by the war in Afghanistan presented by a correspondent sweating in a flak jacket. “Hey, it’s hot,” he said on the split screen. “Take care,” said the anchorwoman. “Coming up” was a reality show in which the camera watched a man serving solitary confinement in a prison’s “hell hole”.

The next morning I arrived at the Pentagon for an interview with one of President Obama’s senior war-making officials. There was a long walk along shiny corridors hung with pictures of generals and admirals festooned in ribbons. The interview room was purpose-built. It was blue and arctic cold, and windowless and featureless except for a flag and two chairs: props to create the illusion of a place of authority. The last time I was in a room like this in the Pentagon a colonel called Hum stopped my interview with another war-making official when I asked why so many innocent civilians were being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then it was in the thousands; now it is more than a million. “Stop tape!” he ordered.

This time there was no Colonel Hum, merely a polite dismissal of soldiers’ testimony that it was a “common occurrence” that troops were ordered to “kill every mother fucker”. The Pentagon, says the Associated Press, spends $4.7 billion on public relations: that is, winning the hearts and minds not of recalcitrant Afghan tribesmen but of Americans. This is known as “information dominance” and PR people are “information warriors”.

American imperial power flows through a media culture to which the word imperial is anathema. To broach it is heresy. Colonial campaigns are really “wars of perception”, wrote the present commander, General David Petraeus, in which the media popularises the terms and conditions. “Narrative” is the accredited word because it is post-modern and bereft of context and truth. The narrative of Iraq is that the war is won, and the narrative of Afghanistan is that it is a “good war”. That neither is true is beside the point. They promote a “grand narrative” of a constant threat and the need for permanent war. “We are living in a world of cascading and intertwined threats,” wrote the celebrated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “that have the potential to turn our country upside down at any moment”.

Friedman supports an attack on Iran, whose independence is intolerable. This is the psychopathic vanity of great power which Martin Luther King described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. He was then shot dead.

The psychopathic is applauded across popular, corporate culture, from the TV death watch of a man choosing a firing squad over lethal injection to the Oscar winning Hurt Locker and a new acclaimed war documentary Restrepo. Directors of both films deny and dignify the violence of invasion as “apolitical”. And yet behind the cartoon façade is serious purpose. The US is engaged militarily in 75 countries. There are some 900 US military bases across the world, many at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels.

But there is a problem. Most Americans are opposed to these wars and to the billions of dollars spent on them. That their brainwashing so often fails is America’s greatest virtue. This is frequently due to courageous mavericks, especially those who emerge from the centrifuge of power. In 1971, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked documents known as the Pentagon Papers which put the lie to almost everything two presidents had claimed about Vietnam. Many of these insiders are not even renegades. I have a section in my address book filled with the names of former officers of the CIA, who have spoken out. They have no equivalent in Britain.

In 1993, C. Philip Liechty, the CIA operations officer in Jakarta at the time of Indonesia’s murderous invasion of East Timor, described to me how President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had given the dictator Suharto “a green light” and secretly supplied the arms and logistics he needed. As the first reports of massacres arrived at his desk, he began to turn. “It was wrong,” he said. “I felt badly.”

Melvin Goodman is now a scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He was in the CIA more than 40 years and rose to be a senior Soviet analyst. When we met the other day, he described the conduct of the cold war as a series of gross exaggerations of Soviet “aggressiveness” that wilfully ignored the intelligence that the Soviets were committed to avoid nuclear war at all costs. Declassified official files on both sides of the Atlantic support this view. “What mattered to the hardliners in Washington,” he said, “was how a perceived threat could be exploited”. The present secretary of defence, Robert Gates, as deputy director of the CIA in the 1980s, had constantly hyped the “Soviet menace” and is, says Goodman, doing the same today “on Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran”.

Little has changed. In America, in 1939, W.H. Auden wrote:

As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives […]
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong

The ‘Military-Academic Complex’ and US Government Policy

29 June, 2010

Michael Flynn, “The Surge of Ideas” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, June 24, 2010)

http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_surge_of_ideas

Michael Flynn from the Institute for Policy Studies writes this week about the influence of the ‘military-academic complex’, and how key American military officers have used independent think tanks to influence the US government’s policies on Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Flynn, “In recent years there has been a tendency for like-minded think tanks and military officers to jointly pursue policy objectives, sometimes in direct conflict with the stated preferences of the president and his advisers. According to some observers, this trend raises questions about the appropriate role of both military officers, who are part of a chain of command, and think tanks, which present themselves as ‘non-partisan’ appraisers of public policy”.

Flynn relates how earlier this year General David Petraeus, who will now head American operations in Afghanistan in place of General Stanley McChrystal, spoke about US involvement in the Middle East at an event in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Institute for the Study of War. At the event Petraeus praised the think tank for their contribution to a report entitled ‘Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq’, which he referred to as a “study and analysis that did indeed have a strategic impact unlike that of any other study or analysis that I can think of”. This report was central to building public support for America’s ‘surge’ of troops into Iraq in 2007, which increased the US military presence by 30,000 soldiers. Petraeus said the think tank had provided, “the rationale for the additional forces that were required [and] described how they might be used in Iraq … I think it played a very significant role in helping to shape the intellectual concepts and indeed, in helping to shape the ultimate policy decision that was made”.

While it is no surprise that the private academic world of think tanks can have a significant impact lobbying the government for certain policies, it may be of more concern that the US military plays an active role in assisting them. Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress points out that as the commander in Iraq, Petraeus supported the work of journalists like Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack with military-sponsored tours of the nation, hand-picking them because he knew they favoured the ‘surge’ policy. By giving these analysts unrivalled access to sites and personnel Petraeus turned them into media ‘experts’, in comparison to whom the critics of the surge policy appeared to be outsiders who could be ignored. As Foreign Policy blogger Laura Rozen wrote last year, Petraeus’ promotion of the Iraq surge was part of “the Petraeus team’s famous counterinsurgency doctrine: In the campaign to win hearts and minds, don’t forget the home front”.

The recently-removed Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed U.S. forces in Afghanistan until the recent controversy surrounding an article in Rolling Stone magazine, also waged a public relations campaign against the new Obama administration. During 2009 McChrystal manoeuvred to promote his preferred counter-insurgency plan despite resistance from President Obama, using a ‘strategic assessment’ team including: the Kagans from the Institute for the Study of War, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution. Flynn writes that “these civilian experts … began appearing on major media outlets promoting ideas largely in line with General McChrystal’s, defending his decision to publicly contradict the administration in a speech, or pushing an optimistic view of the Afghan situation”. They also ran a series of public events at which Petraeus and other high-ranking military officials could present their perspectives on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These ‘objective experts’ and ‘non-partisan forums’ were all part of a campaign by the military to influence public discussion, and ultimately put additional pressure on the country’s elected leadership to give-in to military demands.

Also part of this military-academic complex is the practice of policy groups recruiting retired officers to their advisory boards, many of whom simultaneously take up defence industry jobs (completing the military-industrial-academic complex triangle). “As the New York Times reported in 2008, some of these retired officers—like Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a CSP advisor, and Gen. Barry McCaffery, a former board member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq—have developed reputations as ‘impartial’ experts, appearing on TV news programs while surreptitiously receiving talking points from the Pentagon”. As the Democratic Party have always struggled to be taken seriously on national security issues, some say that many Democrats have over-compensated by taking non-critical and even hawkish positions in regards to the military, thus even lessening the amount of government constraint over the military hierarchy.

While most would agree that a government should listen to what its military has to say, two points that should be clear are that: in the end the elected, civilian government is who should make the final decisions; and the military should not be able to collude with independent lobbyists in the public arena to deceptively influence discussions on government policy, and to even undermine a government’s electoral support. As there are also rumours that General Petraeus may be planning to run for the US presidency in the not too distant future, the degree to which his actions and decisions are already part of a long election campaign must be considered. The United States rails against regimes overseas in which the military is a dominant political force – perhaps this issue also requires greater attention at home.

India’s Rise as a Great Power

17 June, 2010

The Regional and Global Implications of India’s Rise as a Great Power.

David Robinson

Introduction:

Over the last decade there has been an increasing focus on India’s economic and military expansion, and its consequences for South Asia and the world. India is rapidly rising to become a great power, but its ascent depends on maintaining relative domestic stability, and carefully crafting its policies towards the United States and its neighbours Pakistan and China. All four states are nuclear powers, so the consequences of any conflict between them are potentially dire.[1] India has found the post-Cold War international environment amenable to expansion of its bilateral ties with all the major powers simultaneously, and has thus pursued a strategy of ‘poly-alignment’ – seeking to be a ‘bridging power’ between the sometimes competing poles of the United States, Russia, China, and the European Union.[2] This inverts India’s traditional non-alignment policy, allowing India to reap the benefits of closer economic and strategic ties while maintaining the same spirit of balanced international relations.[3] To a degree this arises from uncertainty about the shape of the emerging international order, and India’s own lack of a credible vision of its place in that environment.[4] Nonetheless, its growing wealth and population is now enabling India to build up its military might, and as “a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic democracy … India is being asked to shoulder global responsibilities in consonance with its rising global stature”.[5] This paper will consider India’s rise as a global power, and the likely regional and global implications, through a specific focus on its relations with its strategically significant neighbours Pakistan and China, and argue that fundamentally the balance of power between them will not change dramatically in the near future.

The Rise of India:

As Indian power increases it will inevitably challenge existing political, economic and military patterns, but as Harsh Pant argues,

“India continues to be ambivalent about power, it has failed to develop a strategic agenda commensurate with its growing economic and military capabilities … throughout history, India has failed to master the creation, deployment and use of its military instruments in support of its national objectives”.[6]

From independence in 1947 Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru pursued a strategy of non-alignment that sought to avoid participation in the Cold War, prioritising multilateral institutions and the Non-Aligned Movement. Indian policy was always opposed to the use of military force in international relations.[7] However, as India begins to assert itself as a regional power it is today moving to convert its ‘brown-water’ navy into a ‘blue-water’ navy and is expanding the reach of its air force, moving beyond border control and demonstrating greater concern for strategic issues, such as the protection of shipping lanes.[8] While maintaining constructive relations with the United States, India has also been involved in trilateral dialogue with China and Russia, increasingly sharing their vision of a multipolar world based on consensus among the major powers. India has also become a non-voting member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), through which China and Russia have sought to strategically counterbalance NATO advancement into the Middle East and Central Asia.[9] At the same time, it is China’s conventional and nuclear capabilities that many argue remain the primary military threat to India’s security and the key motivation for India’s own nuclear weapons program; while the United States, under the G.W. Bush administration, negotiated a substantial deal that would assist India’s ‘civilian’ nuclear development. India’s other major challenge comes from its unstable neighbour Pakistan, with which full-scale war and nuclear exchange have been avoided despite clashes in the Kargil region of Kashmir in 1999, and attacks on India by Pakistani-backed terrorists in 2001 and 2008.[10]

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the 1991 Gulf War confronted India with an unprecedented financial crisis, as India simultaneously lost access to Eastern European markets, global oil prices spiked, and over 100,000 Indians were repatriated from the Gulf region, thus precluding their remittances. These economic shocks forced a dramatic rethink of Indian economic and foreign policies. Under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao India steered towards greater economic liberalisation and diplomatic diversity. The Rao government sought greater engagement with the United States and China, as well as making overtures to Israel and seeking improved relations with Southeast Asia through a ‘Look East’ policy.[11] Since then India’s average GDP growth rate has hovered at around 7 percent, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has predicted that in spite of the global financial crisis, India’s growth should remain at 6.5 percent in 2010.[12] Not only has India maintained this amazing economic growth, but it is also envisaged that in the next two decades India’s population “will surpass China’s to make it the world’s most populous country, and its rapidly expanding middle class may constitute up to 60 percent of its 1.3 billion-plus people”.[13] Internationally the Indian diaspora now numbers over 20 million, and is relatively affluent, successful, and well-integrated – spreading India’s ‘soft’ cultural influence.[14] While the approximately 3.7 million Indian nationals now living in the six Gulf (GCC) states specifically remit around $8 billion annually.[15]

Despite India’s meteoric economic development, it can be said India has both the best of the First World and the worst of the Third World within its borders, and faces unprecedented human security challenges.[16] India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. poverty line – 37.2 percent of its population and actually 100 million more people than in 2004 – and millions of India’s rural poor are faced with food price inflation of up to 17 percent.[17] 60 percent of Indian labour is still agricultural, and the integration of hundreds of millions of peasants into a modern economy may be an extremely painful process.[18] And while Indian infrastructure such as roads, civil aviation, ports, and telecommunications have experienced noticeable improvements in recent years, electricity, railways, and irrigation all still need significant investment; and India continues to lag in social infrastructure, such as education and healthcare.[19] These social inequalities have fuelled the widespread ‘Naxalite’ Maoist insurgency affecting vast areas throughout eastern and central India, and whose 20,000 insurgents current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified as the “greatest internal security threat” facing the nation.[20] These internal issues pose the first challenge to India’s rise as a great power, as external projection must be based on a firm foundation of domestic stability. The requirements for domestic stability also shape India’s international needs. Pant asserts that,

“The biggest challenge for India remains that of continuing to achieve the rates of economic growth that it has enjoyed in recent years. Everything else is of secondary importance. … Unless India can sustain this momentum, its larger foreign policy ambitions cannot be realized”.[21]

The political stability of India (and similarly its neighbour China) “is absolutely dependent on continued economic dynamism, which is in turn dependent on energy and resources which must be imported”[22], thus the process of diversifying and securing access to international energy sources is a vital element in avoiding domestic social and political turbulence.[23]

In this context Indian oil and gas companies have been encouraged to invest abroad, and have the long-term aim of producing tens of millions of tons of oil a year overseas by 2025. India has thus been developing strategic relationships with the major oil-producing Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, Central Asian states such as Turkmenistan, and increasingly Iran, as potential sources of energy. Multinational oil and gas pipeline projects have been high on India’s agenda for over a decade, though poor relations with its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have prevented such a scheme; while the United States has used its significant leverage to insist India chooses between pipeline projects or a US-supported nuclear energy programme.[24]

The United States has been particularly concerned by India’s relations with Iran, which the international community has worked to isolate for some time. In this case the US is battling the logic of supply and demand as Iran has the world’s third largest reserve of oil, is nearby to India, and India is a resource-hungry customer. But India and Iran also have a convergence of other economic and strategic interests. The ‘Road Map to Strategic Cooperation’ signed by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Iranian leader Mohammad Khatami in 2003 also mapped out cooperation for increased bilateral trade, and developments like Iran’s Chahbahar port complex, the Chahbahar-Fahranj-Bam railway link, and a Marine Oil Tanking Terminal.[25] The broader aim of these facilities is a North-South Transport Corridor with Russia that would help facilitate the flow of goods across Central Asia, taking cargo from Iran’s ports of Bandar Abbas or Chahbahar via rail to the Caspian Sea and on to Russia’s Caspian ports. This route would significantly reduce travel time and transport costs for exporters like India.[26] India and Iran also share concerns about Sunni Islamist power in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and there are reports of a strategic deal allowing Indian access to Iranian military bases and equipment in the event of war with Pakistan.[27] Politically, Iran has recognised Kashmir as a legitimate part of India; while India is thought to have transferred sensitive nuclear and rocket technology to Tehran, with direct security consequences for Europe and the United States.[28]

So, with energy pipelines still far from reality, and only a nascent civilian nuclear programme, India remains highly dependence on energy imports and increasingly seeks to secure sea shipping lanes for the transportation of oil, from nations like Iran and Myanmar, to as far abroad as Sudan and Nigeria.[29] Nearly half of global seaborne trade passes through the Indian Ocean, around 40 percent of offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean, and 65 percent of the world’s oil and 35 percent of its gas reserves are found in the littoral states of the Ocean. This makes the region generally strategically significant. With India’s ever-growing reliance on imported energy, any disruptions in the Indian Ocean (which are particularly feasible at ‘choke points’ such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca) can lead to serious consequences for the Indian economy. While a key danger is interruption of supply during a time of war, today non-state actors, such as organised criminals, pirates or terrorists, are also an increasing threat.[30] As India increasingly sees itself as a great power, and defines its security in terms of the entire Indian Ocean basin, its strategic frontiers will stretch from the African coast, to the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea, and potentially southwards as far as Antarctica. Continentally, India already looks to the economic and strategic importance of Central Asia, and has made moves to consolidate its strategic footing, including two airbases in Tajikistan.[31]

The US government’s recent National Intelligence Council ‘Global Trends 2025’ report projects that, “Maritime security concerns are providing a rationale for naval buildups and modernization efforts, such as China’s and India’s development of blue-water naval capabilities”.[32] Indeed India spent $10.5 billion between 2004 and 2007 on creating the world’s fourth-largest military[33], and is projected to spend more than $45 billion on arms purchases between 2009 and 2013.[34] These will include long-range aircraft, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines that are intended to make India a formidable force in the Indian Ocean.[35] The Indian Navy is planning over the next decade to create a fleet of 130-140 vessels comprising three aircraft carrier battle groups, and has created a Far Eastern Naval Command, headquartered on the Andaman Islands – 190 nautical miles from Chinese facilities at Great Coco Island.[36] Meanwhile, India’s longer-term plans involve constructing a fleet capable of projecting power into the South China Sea.[37] There is also much speculation around India’s production of the new ‘Surya’ ICBM, which may use technology from India’s civilian space programme. India’s Agni medium-range ballistic missile programme currently consists of missiles with ranges of upwards of 700kms, 2,000kms, and 3,000kms. The Surya project will result in missiles with ranges of 5,000 kms, which can hit Chinese targets; 8,000-12,000 kms, which can reach the United States and Europe; and 20,000 kms, which will have a global reach. These will have the option of a nuclear payload, and potentially multiple warheads.[38] The reported 12,000km-range Surya-2 in particular is tailor-made to target the United States.[39] This expansion of India’s missile capacity may create increased tensions with China, and may hinder cooperation with Europe and the United States.[40]

Today the United States remains the key external actor in the Indian Ocean, with its military presence stretching from north and east Africa to the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, east to Singapore, and southwards to Diego Garcia. “America’s raw power in the region has made it imperative that New Delhi court the United States”.[41] From the time of Indian independence some American analysts already saw the potential for India to compete for influence with Communist China, but as India took its non-aligned path the US found a willing ally in Pakistan, which provided military bases in exchange for economic and military aid.[42] The US relationship with Pakistan led to them taking financial and political actions against India following the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars, despite Pakistan being the aggressor. Eventually President Reagan made moves to close the diplomatic gap with India in an effort to wean New Delhi away from dependence on Moscow, thus the 1982-1991 period witnessed a gradual warming of US-Indian relations. The collapse of superpower competition in 1991 then allowed the United States to move away from its Pakistani ally and engage with India.[43] By March 2000 President Clinton made this new relationship clear while visiting India, stating that, “we are convinced that it is time to chart a new and purposeful direction in our relationship”.[44] This was enacted through the ‘Next Steps in Strategic Partnership’ agreement of January 2004, which announced expanded cooperation in civilian nuclear activities and space programs, as well as missile defence. A senior official made the strategic design of this relationship clear, announcing that America’s, “goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century … We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement”.[45]

As part of this emerging relationship the United States has subsequently held joint military operations with India, encouraging them to actively patrol the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and President G.W. Bush sponsored agreements facilitating the development of India’s nuclear program.[46] President Bush signed the US-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Bill into law in December 2006, which will result in up to $40 billion in trade with India in defence and energy products.[47] Contrary to non-proliferation goals, the deal leaves India free to develop its military nuclear capabilities and increases its ability to access uranium and nuclear technologies.[48] Supporters of the deal see it as President Bush’s,

“greatest foreign policy achievement. This success, if sustained through wise policies and skilful diplomacy by future administrations, will portend enormous consequences for the future balance of power in Asia and globally to the advantage of the United States”.[49]

Subsequently, under the Obama administration, the Indian government signed a $2.1 billion contract with the US for eight long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, capable of anti-submarine and anti-surface naval warfare.[50] Despite India’s advocacy of a non-polar world, Indian policymakers recognise the benefits of American sponsorship; and both nations agree that it serves neither American nor Indian interests for a powerful authoritarian China to dominate the Asian landmass, or for radical Islamic to wage wars that threaten the security of both states.[51] Thus, as the United States perceives strategic advantage from assisting India’s rise to great power status, and India is receiving tangible military and economic benefits from this relationship, for the foreseeable future India’s continued ascendance will be supported by the global hegemon.

The Problem of Pakistan:

India’s geographically closest and most frequently problematic relationship is with its neighbour and prodigal twin Pakistan. India’s rise as a great power will most immediately impact the extremely dangerous stalemate between these two states. Many security concerns converge in Pakistan, which has been a key supporter of the Taliban in Afghanistan, factions of which the Pakistani Army is now fighting in a de facto civil war; elements within the state support Islamic terrorist organisations that periodically attack India, provoking regional crises; and, the Pakistani Army has a growing nuclear arsenal, which could be vulnerable to misuse by malicious elements within the state.[52] India and Pakistan engaged in wars in 1965 and 1971, with crises surrounding continuing Pakistani support for an indigenous insurgency in the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir erupting periodically, and threatening war in 1990.[53] Following Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in May 1998, Pakistani incursions across the Line of Control in the Kargil region of Kashmir led to another limited war, and the veiled nuclear threat by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed, “We will not hesitate to use any weapon in our arsenal to defend our territorial integrity”.[54] Major terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir on 1 October 2001, and in the Indian capital Delhi on 13 December 2001, again threatened war though merely resulted in major military manoeuvres by India – code-named Operation Parakram.[55] The lack of military retaliation by India despite grave provocation seems to suggest that India is successfully deterred by Pakistan’s nuclear capability, and this in turn only fuels the eagerness of elements within Pakistan to provoke them.[56] Pakistan has adopted an ‘asymmetric nuclear escalation posture’, which has deterred Indian conventional military power and thus enabled Pakistan’s “aggressive strategy of bleeding India by a ‘thousand cuts’ with little fear of significant retaliation”.[57]

India is four times larger and seven times more populated than Pakistan, and as Pakistan averages only 300 miles in width it is susceptible to a central assault that would spilt the country in two. A number of important Pakistani cities also lie close to the international border in the Indus River basin.[58] As Pakistan is thus extremely vulnerable to conventional attack by India’s larger military, it defines such an attack as an existential threat to the Pakistani state. Pakistani Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai thus outlined that Pakistan would use its nuclear weapons if India attacks Pakistan and conquers a large part of its territory; India destroys a large part of Pakistan’s land or air forces; India blockades Pakistan in an effort to strangle it economically; or India pushes Pakistan into a state of political destabilisation.[59] This asymmetric escalation posture is designed for a rapid first use of nuclear weapons against conventional attacks, thus leaving India without the ability to punish terrorist attacks through conventional retaliation.[60] As elements within Pakistan continue to provoke India, this creates an extremely dangerous imbalance reliant on India’s restraint to maintain peace.

Vipin Narang notes that, “Scholars who study the South Asian nuclear balance have argued that if a limited clash between India and Pakistan were to expand into a full-scale conventional war, escalation to the nuclear level would likely result”.[61] And most of the ‘war-game’ scenarios played out by the US military also foresee any conventional conflict between India and Pakistan escalating to the use of nuclear weapons within the first 12 days.[62] New analyses of this eventuality reveal that a conflict be­tween India and Pakistan, in which 100 nuclear bombs were dropped on cities and industrial areas within the two countries, would kill more than 20 million people from the blasts, fires and radioactivity. However, in addition, the explosions could produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture. Smoke generated by burning cities could create a climatic response that immediately reduces sunlight, cools the planet, and reduces precipitation worldwide. This ‘nuclear winter’ would reduce or eliminate agricultur­al production over vast areas, simultaneously decreasing crop yields nearly everywhere at once. Approximately one billion people worldwide today live on marginal food supplies and would be directly threatened with starvation.[63] While some analysts maintain that nuclear weapons would only be used in a measured way, the chaos, fear and interruption of communications that would follow nuclear war’s commencement leads some to doubt that attacks would be limited in any rational manner.[64] Additionally, Pakistan could face a decision to use its entire nuclear arsenal quickly or lose it to Indian forces which seize its military bases.[65] Thus unrestrained nuclear war in South Asia potentially has cataclysmic regional and global consequences.

Following the terrorist attack by Kashmiri militants in December 2001 and the subsequent military standoff with Pakistan in Operation Parakram, the Indian Army announced a new limited war policy in April 2004 called the Cold Start doctrine, which aims to allow conventional retaliation without posing an existential threat to Pakistan.[66] Under Cold Start the Indian army would avoid delivering a catastrophic blow to Pakistan, and instead deliberately only make shallow territorial gains, 50–80kms deep, that could be used in post-conflict negotiations. This doctrine aims to deny Pakistan the justification of ‘regime survival’ for employing nuclear weapons in response to a conventional Indian attack.[67] However, Walter C. Ladwig foresees that, “An operational Cold Start capability could lead Pakistan to lower its nuclear red line, put its nuclear weapons on a higher state of readiness, develop tactical nuclear weapons, or undertake some equally destabilizing course of action”.[68] The danger of escalation is further compounded by the relatively immature ‘command and control’ and early warning systems of both India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals.[69] Scott Sagan also points out the danger of nuclear accident as, if one of the nations accidentally blows up a nuclear warhead on one of its own military bases, it probably will not have adequate surveillance intelligence to know it has not been attacked by its enemy, and thus may falsely ‘retaliate’ against the other country.[70]

Meanwhile, in the context of the continuing conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan believes the United States will intervene to prevent war, as it relies on Pakistani troops along the Afghan border, and supplies for American forces are transported through Pakistan. Thus Pakistan believes the only potential military action available to India is air-strikes against Islamist training camps, which itself is not a serious problem, and may actually help Islamabad by killing destabilising jihadists while generating massive support among Pakistanis for their government.[71] The dual problems of nuclear escalation and American reliance on Pakistan for counter-insurgency meant that following terrorist attacks in Mumbai by Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba on 26 November 2008, which killed 163 people, India was unable to respond with conventional military strikes.[72] Any attack by India might either destabilise the Pakistani government, or escalate the conflict to nuclear exchange. In the event of state disintegration, Pakistani nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of militant elements who would attempt to use those weapons against India or the West.[73]

Unfortunately, there is no easy path to stabilising reform within Pakistan. Pakistan essentially has a feudal political establishment, run by a civilian aristocracy of wealthy agricultural landowners and industrialists, and the Army.[74] The civilian political parties primarily function as patronage networks, without deep-seated ideological differences, and merely struggle to control state resources. As a key aim of the agricultural and industrial elites is to avoiding paying income taxes, the Pakistani government is also chronically in debt.[75] The Army is seen by most Pakistanis as the primary defender of the nation and the ultimate guarantor of domestic stability. The ever-present threat of India is used to justify the Army’s disproportionate share of national resources, and the Army itself also owns and manages a large agricultural and industrial empire. Domestically, the Army is the ultimate power-broker between the political parties, and has acted on several occasions to remove the party in power.[76] As successive governments have received bailouts from international financial institutions, neither the civilian political elites nor the Army have felt any real incentive to institute fundamental change.[77]

For the time-being the Army is objectively the most stable and responsible force to control the country. The Pakistani military is the only state institution that works effectively, and without it Pakistan would probably have disintegrated long ago.[78] The dire alternative is the representatives of the rising wave of radical Islam who arose from the madrassas under the patronage of General Zia-Ul-Huq, and gained their training in the US-backed mujahadeen struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.[79] These elements, and more recent jihadist recruits, are currently involved in the Kashmiri terrorist organisations like Jaysh-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), as well as in the Afghani and Pakistani Taliban who occupy Pakistan’s border provinces.[80] While the Pakistani Army and intelligence services (ISI) are often unwilling to directly challenge these forces (and indeed currently cultivate relations with the Kashmiri groups and the Afghani Taliban), and external (and particularly American) attempts to deploy foreign forces in Pakistani territory would almost certainly make things worse, this unstable situation is likely to continue.[81]

As India’s power increases, so will its ability to strategically encircle Pakistan, through relations with Iran and Afghanistan, and via naval power. At the same time India’s patience for Pakistan’s continuing terrorist provocations will probably lessen. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s deterrent capabilities remain, as either unsuccessful or successful attacks on the Pakistani state are likely to result in either nuclear exchange or widespread chaos and bloodshed. However, if India continues restraint, and reaches out to more moderate elements within the military and civilian political parties, it could leverage its growing economic strength to gradually help a more moderate Pakistani state develop.

The Challenge of China:

On a grander strategic level, relations between India and China will be highly significant as India emerges as a great power. There is a growing interdependence between the two Asian giants, as China is now India’s number-one trading partner, with more than $52 billion in bilateral trade, and estimates are that China-India trade will surpass US-China trade by 2020. China’s powerful manufacturing sector complements India’s combination of a raw materials and cutting-edge technology economy.[82] Strategically, a strong and influential India helps create a more multipolar world, consistent with Chinese interests, however China increasingly regards India as its main Asian rival.[83] China is thus involved in a complex game of encirclement with India. China has armed Pakistan with nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology, and has built “strong military-to-military ties with Burma, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka as part of what Indians see as a strategy to tie India down, Gulliver-like, in its region”.[84] China is also developing deep-water ports throughout the Indian Ocean to support its projected blue-water naval capacity.

Meanwhile, on the Indo-Tibetan border China continues to press its claims to vast tracts of Indian territory.[85] Over the past year increased friction in the border area between India and China has led to incursions by Chinese troops, the wounding of several Indian border police, and a build-up of military forces on both sides, as Beijing has been uncharacteristically assertive in its claims to sections of India’s Arunachal Pradesh state. The Indians responded by moving 30,000 troops and its latest warplanes into the area, leading some analysts to predict a China-India war within five years.[86]

China rejects the McMahon Line that forms the border between it and India, and places the traditional Sino-Indian border at the base of the Himalayan foothills.[87] For China, control of Tibet is strategically important, providing a barrier with its populous and economically and militarily-advancing neighbour. The high mountain passes of Tibet provide virtually impenetrable terrain which is easy to militarily protect. Along the frontier directly south of this border in India is one of the largest population concentrations in the world. Beijing fears that if China were to withdraw from Tibet this population could migrate into the Himalayas and Tibet could gradually turn into a beachhead for Indian power, which would directly abut Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in central China. The Chinese thus see control of Tibet as a matter of fundamental national security.[88] They also see the 1959 decision by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to give asylum to the Dalai Lama, and the continuing support for the Tibetan government-in-exile, as perpetuating this threat.[89] Thus, “Beijing’s price for a border settlement and for normalisation of ties with India, appears to be that India dismantle the Tibetan settlement in Dharamshala and request the Dalai Lama take up residence in another country”.[90]

Meanwhile, on a broader front, 80 percent of China’s oil and gas supplies transit the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, so the Chinese navy is increasingly making its presence felt in the area in order to secure its lines of supply.[91] Like India, for China the steady flow of imported resources is not just an issue of economic growth, but also of the longevity of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Chinese leaders increasingly fear that adversaries could blockade sea lanes and strategic bottlenecks such as the Strait of Malacca, and are thus moving to an offshore defence policy that will include ‘distant ocean defence’. However, China’s actions may impinge upon India’s interests and destabilise relations.[92]

Following ‘defensive realist’ strategies, the nations will attempt to gain power for self-preservation, and each nation will see this move by the other as a strategic threat, thus decreasing collective security.[93] As part of this competition China has been developing a ‘string-of-pearls’ strategy, expanding influence into ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. According to a report by US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), “China is building strategic relationships along the sea lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea in a way that suggests defensive and offensive positioning to protect China’s energy interests”.[94] China emerged as the biggest military spender in the Asia-Pacific in 2006, and now has the fourth-largest defence expenditure in the world.[95] Meanwhile, China’s navy is considered the third-largest in the world behind only the US and Russia, and it is superior to the Indian navy.[96] In this context, India perceives Chinese actions as power maximisation, and fears that China’s forward-basing strategy will be used to contain India and rapidly achieve hegemony in the Indian Ocean.[97]

Meanwhile, China and India have adopted nuclear ‘assured retaliation’ postures (what they sometimes refer to as “credible minimum deterrence”), which rely on small but secure and survivable nuclear forces that assure a retaliatory strike against their primary opponent’s targets.[98] In many ways this seems like the most stable aspect of the competition between India and China, though it is yet to be seen what reaction a new generation of Indian Surya missiles might provoke. Meanwhile, many analysts expect that China will follow a consistent but non-provocative build-up of its military capabilities and diplomatic alliances over the long-term, aiming to gradually edge the United States out of a hegemonic position.[99] India is likely to mirror this build-up, so tension and possible low-level confrontation may result on the India-China border and in the Indian Ocean region.

Conclusion:

India’s rise to great power status is inevitable and will occur quickly over the coming decades, especially as the United States believes this will assist it in maintaining a global strategic balance. This will lead to a greater exertion of India’s power outside of its borders, and especially into the Indian Ocean region, which it sees as being essentially for its economic and social stability. The two states that India’s ascent will have the greatest strategic impact on will be its neighbours Pakistan and China, however, for contrasting reasons, this impact may not change the fundamental power balance that exists today. Pakistan is already overwhelmed by the military strength of India, and thus its primary defences are the threat of nuclear exchange, or state disintegration – neither of which will definitely be undermined by rising Indian power. In contrast, China and India will have increasingly complex and intertwined relations, but the economic and strategic issues that bind them, and the evenly-matched nature of their conventional and nuclear forces, are likely to maintain relative peace and strategic stability. India sees itself as an emerging great power in a multi-power world, which will maintain a strategy of poly-alignment. With the balance of forces developing as they are, that projection is likely to become a reality.

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[34] Pant, “Indian Foreign and Security Policy”, p226.

[35] Pant, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p284.

[36] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p65.

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[54] Ganguly, “Nuclear Stability”, pp55-56.

[55] Ganguly, “Nuclear Stability”, p60.

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[75] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p30.

[76] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p31.

[77] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p32.

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[79] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p33.

[80] Schmidt, “The Unravelling of Pakistan”, p34.

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[91] Hallinan, “China and India Battle”.

[92] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, pp59-60.

[93] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p61.

[94] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p63.

[95] Pant, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p286.

[96] Pant, “India in the Indian Ocean”, p287.

[97] Blazevic, “Defensive Realism”, p64.

[98] Narang, “Posturing for Peace?”, p44.

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America’s War Costs Hit $1 Trillion

31 May, 2010

A statement on America’s wars by the Congresswoman for Illinois, Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

“What Have we Bought for $1 Trillion?”

28 May 2010

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Congresswoman from Illinois

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-jan-schakowsky/what-have-we-bought-for-1_b_594031.html

As of 10:06 on Sunday, May 30th, we will have spent $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A trillion dollars is a baffling amount of money. If you write it out, use twelve zeros. Even after serving in Congress for over a decade, I, like most Americans, still have a hard time wrapping my head around sums like this.

This month, we mark the seventh anniversary of President Bush’s declaration of “mission accomplished” in Iraq, yet five American soldiers have been killed there in May alone. Iraqis went to the polls nearly three months ago, but the political system remains so fractured that no party has been able to piece together a coalition. There are some indications that sectarian violence is again on the rise.

The only clear winner of the Iraq war is Iran. Their mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein, was taken out and fellow Shiites are in charge. Iran has been emboldened to the point of threatening the stability of the region and the world with its growing nuclear capability.

And then there’s Afghanistan, which, after nearly a decade of war, represents the longest continuous U.S. military engagement ever. Even the non-partisan Congressional Research Service recently declared the situation in Afghanistan as a “deteriorating security situation and no comprehensive political outcome yet in sight.” And the U.S. military just suffered its 1,000th casualty in Afghanistan on Friday.

So the real question is: What have we bought for $1 trillion? Are we safer? As our troops and treasure are still locked down in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists are training, recruiting and organizing in Somalia, Yemen and dozens of other places around the globe. While it appears that we have made significant progress in weakening Al Qaeda’s network, we have increasing concerns about homegrown terrorists.

Isn’t it time to invest in a different strategy? I have been doing a lot of thinking about the nexus between the low status of women and the presence of instability, violence and terrorism. It is simply a fact that the countries in which women are least empowered are the most violent. Could it be that policy-makers and defense experts have overlooked a tool that is staring us right in the face? It’s in the eyes of women — sometimes masked by a burqa, sometimes scarred with acid, sometimes tear stained from the grief of losing a husband or child to war. It’s these women who are often fiercely determined to stop the killing and provide a secure environment for their families. Does it even make sense for half of the human race to play only a minor role in countries now plagued by war and violence?

The data indisputably prove the case that when investments are made in women, communities are more stable, healthier, and less violent. The principle tools, which just happen to be far less expensive than the weapons and manpower of war, are the education of girls and economic empowerment of women.

We already have some positive experience that we can build upon. Where the U.S. military and our NATO allies have made a conscious effort to reach out to local women in a culturally sensitive way, they have seen the benefits of utilizing the unique abilities of these women. A Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar met regularly with local women leaders who notified NATO of local corruption and security threats and also conveyed their priorities for improving life in their communities. The U.S. marines have found that using Female Engagement Teams to establish dialogue and collaboration with Afghan women has helped to build rapport between Americans and Afghans, as well as providing critical intelligence that might otherwise have been missed.

On Sunday we hit the $1 trillion mark, but on Memorial Day we will honor all those men and women who gave their lives to fight for this country. This includes the over 5,000 men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Even in difficult economic times, this is by far the most devastating cost of all: the lives we have lost in these two conflicts.

This weekend, I hope all Americans will take the opportunity to consider the cost of ongoing war. We simply cannot afford to continue pouring American blood and treasure into conflicts that will never be solved by a total dependence on military force. We should look to the women to provide the cost-effective, powerful force for peace.