Thursday, October 1, 2009

When the danger is imminent, loud and clear, our voice must be insistent, loud and clear

Source: indian Express
Tuesday , May 26, 2009 at 1530 hrs

Walter Lipmann put the matter succinctly: “A nation has security when it does not have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain them by war.” [1]

Consider Aksai Chin: Are we prepared to go to war to recover it? Or, is it more likely that we will rationalize not going to war by giving credence to doubts: “Do we have an interest in the place? Is such interest as we have in it, vital? Is it legitimate?” What about Arunachal? Are we confident that, when challenged over it by China, we will be able to hold it by war? Is China clear on that? Building up capacities to defend them apart, bearing sacrifices for them apart, are we one even in what we regard as our vital, legitimate national interests?

A host of factors are liable to affect the security of our country – some here and now, others in the middle distance. And some will affect us twenty/thirty years from now But this last lot are no less important for that reason: their effects could be absolutely devastating, as we shall see, and preparing for them will take all of twenty/thirty years.

Pakistan: Among the factors that bear upon our security here and now, is the course events are taking in Pakistan. After all, the respite that we have had in the last one and half years in Kashmir has been due primarily to the fact that Pakistan has been preoccupied with problems of its own: there is a lesson in that, of course, if only we would heed it – we should do what little we can to keep Pakistan busy in its problems.

We must set aside a misconception at the outset. Given the concerns of the US, and the nature of reporting, it would seem as if the problem are the Taliban. But the Taliban are not the cause, they are the result of the Talibanization of Pakistan’s State and society. The reluctance with which Pakistan Army and Frontier Guards have been dealing with them itself points to the extent to which Pakistani forces are Talibanized. It also points to earth faults that no purposeful adversary would miss: one of the reasons these forces have been dragging their feet is that the Frontier Guards consist largely of Pashtun soldiery (bossed by Punjabi officers); a fair proportion – 20 per cent, on some estimates -- of the soldiers of the Army also are Pashtuns; they are naturally reluctant to kill their own. They are equally reluctant to kill those who have taken up the very banner on which Pakistan’s forces are reared, namely jihad. The net result has been put well by my perceptive friend, Sushant Sareen: “The bottom line is that instead of the Pakistani Army exercising control over its jihadist assets,” he writes, “the Army itself has become a strategic asset of the jihadis.”

Today it is being pressed by the Americans to move against the Taliban. Will it move only against those limbs of the Taliban that are traditionally opposed to following the Pakistani line? Or will it also move against those limbs – that led by Jallaluddin and Serajuddin Haqqani, for instance – that have had the closest links with the ISI and itself, and have done their bidding? Even if it moves against the Taliban, will it move against the jihadi organizations it has reared to destabilize India?

Moreover, when it acts as a result of external pressure – of the Americans, in this case – before we hail the turn-around we need to ascertain the bargain that, say, the Americans have agreed to in turn. Have they assured Pakistan that, once they leave, it will be free to exercise control in Afghanistan? Have they agreed that, as the Pakistan Army moves to crush the Taliban, they in turn will turn the screws on India over Kashmir?

For us there is an additional reason to sit up. There has been one thing alone that has united even the non-Taliban State and Army: hatred for India. They have had but one shared conviction: that they have an Allah-given mandate to dismember India, and, therefore, one objective. Should the Islam-pasand terrorists acquire greater sway, the fervour against India will indeed be intensified – in all terrorist literature and rhetoric, “Amriki-Yehudi-Hindu,” “America-Israel-India,” “Palestine-Chechnya-Kashmir,” are clubbed, they are one, hyphenated expression. But there will be one change. The objective will not be to dismember India but to take it whole, and to take it for Islam. In the 1940s also the Maulanas, apart from scoffing at and lampooning Jinnah, maintained that his project was grossly misconceived: the whole of the sub-continent is open for Islam, their thesis went, and this man is confining it to two corners of it. As the decades have rolled out, it is not Jinnah who has prevailed, it is Maulana Maudoodi. Furthermore, to Islamic fundamentalism has now been added national pride: unable to squeeze the support that ISI and the Pakistan Army have been giving the Taliban and al Qaeda, the Americans have been using drones inside Pakistani territory. This has deepened resentment against the Americans, and, simultaneously, it has shown up the rulers – ineffectual in getting the Americans to cease and desist – to be nothing but double-talking puppets of Americans. As a result, the Taliban, in addition to being the “devout, if misguided” warriors for Islam, are coming to be seen as the ones who are standing up to the Americans.

Either outcome will spell additional trouble for India. If the jihadis continue to prevail, that will secure them the Pakistani State. If the Army, upon being pressurized or induced by Americans, halts them, and saves the State from falling to their hands, it will become more Islamic, it will secure more power. Again, Sushant Sareen has put his finger on the spot: every setback has been attributed to insufficient Islamisation, to insufficient power; hence, after each setback, the Pakistani Army has become more Islamic, it has acquired more power. And when it has succeeded in quelling some section, for instance the Baluch, its success has been taken as the occasion for ever greater Islamic fervour, its success has been the vindication that entitles it to even greater power and presence in Pakistan’s life and affairs.

And then, there is the problem of what to do with its progeny, the jihadis. One outlet will be to help them recapture Afghanistan. That objective is one of the main reasons on account of which Pakistani agencies and forces are not doing anything near what is required to staunch the Taliban and al Qaeda. But acquiring Afghanistan is an instrument: the main reason for recapturing it will be to reacquire what Pakistani strategists have called “strategic depth” vis a vis India. The main outlet, the main objective will be India, and ultimately, the one “solution” that Pakistan’s forces and agencies will see for getting the jihadis creating trouble within Pakistan will be to deflect them to India.

Events of the last two years have left no one in any doubt whatsoever about three, conjoint facts: the epicenter of Pan-Islamic jihad is Pakistan; the jihadis are the creatures of Pakistan’s agencies and Army; for this and other reasons, the Pakistani State will not quell them. And yet, these very years also leave no doubt that the three props of Pakistan – US, Saudi Arabia and China – will continue to arm, accommodate and finance Pakistan. And Pakistan, in turn, will continue to use the aid and arms against India.

A related development which will affect our security in the immediate future, a development which transcends Pakistan but which is now centered on what is happening there, is the imminent withdrawal of US in defeat: from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. One American official after another is talking of the “moderate Taliban”.[2] This is nothing but a fig leaf to cover the withdrawal, it is the rationalization for withdrawal. It is the old formula, “Cry ‘Victory,’ and run.” And the thesis has the familiar author: it was floated by Musharraf four years ago. Apart from some tribal leaders who dominate particular regions in Afghanistan, the Taliban who will be christened “moderate” will be the ones ISI certifies. Will the Haqqani limb be more “moderate” in the consequences it inflicts on India when steered to do so than the one controlled by Baitullah Mehsud?

US withdrawal, howsoever it is dressed up, will be a great boost to Islamic fundamentalism – “We have driven out the Great Satan,” the cry will go up. Though triumphant, the extremists will continue to find it difficult to get at mainland US for any sustained operations. Pockets in Europe will be somewhat easier to get at, but only for the occasional, if dramatic attack. A few “modernist” regimes in the Middle East will certainly be in the sights of the extremists – for having invited the “corrupting” culture of the West, and for hosting the US in particular. But it is India that will have to bear the cost most of all as it is, by far, the easier target: its society is open and soft; its State is, and is seen as, ineffectual and porous, and the country is high up in the demonology of Islamic terrorists.

Nepal: One of the costliest blunders of the Manmohan Singh Government has been in regard to Nepal. Even as the situation deteriorated, it stood paralysed. Eventually, it just outsourced the country’s foreign policy – to the CPI(M). The Maoists attained power. The monarchy was abolished. China, which had kept in touch with both sides to the conflict, got the gateway to descend to the southern slopes of the Himalayas. Since then, it has been using the opportunity at great speed to spread its presence and influence in the country. Even under the earlier regime, Pakistan had begun using Nepal as a significant base for anti-India operations and propaganda – the string of madrasas and mosques that had come up right along the Indian border, even in areas, like the two districts directly touching the Chicken’s Neck in North Bengal, bore physical testimony to its operations. With China now in the front seat, Pakistan is bound to have even easier time to work its plans. Even with the Maoists out of office, Nepal is liable to pose great difficulties: even if some other conglomeration of parties holds office, it is certain to be preoccupied with just hanging on. China and Pakistan will have a free field to extend their influence, to enlarge their pockets.

Bangladesh: Change of governments in Dhaka not with standing, Islamisation proceeds apace. As the mutiny of Bangladesh Rifles attests, the hold of the civilian Government remains tenuous. In particular, the civilian Government has not displayed either the willingness or the capacity to take any steps that would effectively check infiltration of illegal migrants into West Bengal and Assam, an infiltration that has already altered the demographic balance in large parts of both states – so much so that who shall be elected in over a third of the seats in the Assam Assembly and in close to a fifth in the West Bengal Assembly is now decided by illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The one good development that has taken place in South Asia has been in Sri Lanka. At long last, the Government of Sri Lanka has vanquished the LTTE. But there are two aspects of this to which India will have to be alert in the coming years. First, while the Government of India, dependent on the DMK, and therefore mortgaged to Tamil politics, stood paralysed, Pakistan sent arms and assistance to the Sri Lankan Government. This help secures it, and through it for its ally, China, presence in the country and influence. Second, were some of the LTTE cadres to have escaped, at least some sections would be eager to help them set up pockets in the Nilgiris.

But, while each of these is cause for concern, even together they are in the second order of smalls when compared to the major threat that India confronts in the near and long term, the threat from China.

China has a definite view of its place in the world – it aims at being the preeminent power. It has leapt ahead: thirty years ago, in many ways it was not just at par with India, it was even behind India. Today its economy is three times India’s. China’s rulers have translated economic strength into military muscles, as well as diplomatic influence. So much so that no country is prepared to speak the truth to or about China. At the same time, China has a definite view about India: that it is a potential nuisance, and, therefore, it has to be kept busy in South Asia. Accordingly, China has ringed India: Pakistan as a willing instrument; a fully militarized and nuclearized Tibet; a friendly Nepal; Bangladesh with which it has a military pact and which is by now dependent on it for arms and equipment; Myanmar as a dependency. Furthermore, only the deliberately blind will miss to see that China is using every opportunity to thwart India – whether it be to forestall any chance there might have been of reorganization of the Security Council that might have given India a seat; or it be the prospects of closer relations with ASEAN – notice how it has maneuvered to ensure that the swap arrangements under the Chiang Mai Initiative remain confined to ASEAN+3 – namely, China, Japan and South Korea, and India is resolutely kept out; its latest in the region has been to take the absolutely unprecedented step of blocking an infrastructure loan from ADB to India as one component of it was for a project in Arunachal; China has systematically gone back on each of the 10-principles that had been agreed to for settling the border dispute; it is being more and more explicitly aggressive: along the border, in public declarations of its claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

In addition to such developments among States in our neighbourhood, we are naturally affected, as are others, by the emergence of non-State groups. In our case, the problem is redoubled for at least two States have patronized groups that are hostile to India: Pakistan openly – “Jihad is an instrument of State policy,” Musharraf had declared; and Bangladesh on the quiet – in the shelter it has hitherto given to ULFA cadre and leaders, and in the easy access that other insurrectionist groups operating in Manipur and elsewhere have had to pockets in Bangladesh.

But even without State patronage, the non-State groups present a formidable challenge to our security.

Bearing in mind what just half a dozen terrorists can do, the first thing we have to bear in mind is their sheer number. Vikram Sood reminds us that there are around 18 million unlicensed weapons in Pakistan; that around 2.25 lakh to 6.5 lakh extremists have been trained in extremist establishments. [3]

Second, they are not “primitives”. On the contrary, they have displayed extreme sophistication in the technologies they have used; in their organizational skills – it has been almost impossible for any intelligence agency to penetrate their structures; furthermore, while knit by a common ideology and objective, they have set themselves up in organizations that are so loose that, even after key operators being killed, they have been able to continue their pursuits. Third, the intense motivation they have been able to instill in their adherents – personified by the suicide bombers who blow themselves up. Fourth to sixth, as George Friedman has noted in America’s Secret War, they have displayed strategic thinking of a very high order: even though some of the things they expected have not come to pass – the Arab street has not boiled over against local rulers – the main one has – they have been able to draw the US into operations that the Islamic world sees as a war against Islam; operation after operation that they have executed, 9/11 being the most spectacular, has shown their enormous skills at planning tactically and executing those plans.[4] Next, their enormous patience, their relentless perseverance: traits that can prove decisive when wearing down, say, the Indian upper and middle classes – that weary so soon, that are so soon distracted from even the severest blow. Furthermore, almost all the groups that are threatening India’s security have become self-sustaining: just as al Qaeda and the Taliban garner resources by taxing opium cultivation, groups like the Naxalites garner all they need and more from the taxes they collect on contracts given out by state and central governments for development in the areas the former control.

And the groups are increasingly linked. Al Qaeda, it would seem is, in fact, run on a franchisee system – locally active groups or individuals link up to a loose central cloud-of-an-entity. In our case, an agency like the ISI, after it had spawned a series of Islamic groups in the Northeast, linked them up with groups like ULFA. We can be certain that, even as we meet, agencies like the ISI would be active in extending tentacles to Naxalites, and linking them with SIMI and other pan-Islamic groups.

Finally, it is evident that with their resources and patrons, these non-State groups have access to more and more lethal weaponry, and better communication equipment. And if we look ten/twenty years ahead, we must reckon with the possibility that these groups will get their hands on weapons of mass destruction – biological, chemical, nuclear – and that they will be able to transport them to their intended targets. Biological weapons can be made in a garage, and transported in a vial. Even in the case of nuclear weapons we have to bear in mind the amounts of uranium and plutonium that have gone missing from various countries – from constituents of the former Soviet Union, of course, but also from Japan, from UK; the activities of proliferators such as AQ Khan, how these were deliberately overlooked by governments not just of Pakistan but of the US; the close intermeshing of Pakistan’s agencies and the Taliban and al Qaeda; as for transporting the weapon, Friedman’s book cited earlier, to go no farther, lists a telling comparison: the Hiroshima bomb was a 13 kiloton one; a suitcase to transport a 10 kiloton nuclear bomb would have to be just 24 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches; and it would weigh less than 30 lbs. [5]

And then there is an array of factors that will affect our security in the longer term. Among these are:

The gallop of technology: combatants will soon have an almost perfect view of what their rival is preparing to do, and is doing on the ground across the border – not just what he is building up to do a few months from now, but what he is doing at this very moment in the battlefield: accordingly, surprise will have to be of an entirely different sort; robotic vehicles – they are already being used for clearing mines, for surveying areas where enemies might be hiding and bombing them, even robotic infantry is just round the corner; and, of course, there is the lightning rush to miniaturization – of explosives, up to and including nuclear devices; of sensors – in next to no time we will have swarms of nano-sensors flying over an area and reporting back to headquarters half way across the world.

The same goes for spheres farther afield, in regard to anti-satellite capabilities, for instance – through the kinetic destruction of one of its own satellites, China has given a public demonstration of what it can already do, and, what with the work being done on lasers and other kinds of weaponry, the method it used, of sending a missile up to destroy an asset in space, will soon be seen as a primitive method of taking out an adversary’s eyes; similarly, for years it has been systematically building up its capacities for Information Warfare with the singular objective of paralyzing the “acupuncture points” of another country.

Competition over resources is already intense. It is liable to get more so, and not just over oil. China has moved far ahead of us not just to preempt oil reserves, it has begun engineering work to divert Tibetan waters to north and east China.

Demographic changes: the fact that the populations of countries as diverse as Spain, Italy, Russia, Belgium, Japan are declining is certain to cause tectonic shifts: with its population already less than that of Pakistan, and declining; with third world diseases like tuberculosis and alcoholism having returned; with life expectancy hovering at the level of Bangladesh, how will Russia maintain the land army that will be needed for keeping the influence of rivals like China at bay in Central Asia? How will it ultimately wall out the Chinese from Siberia? Similarly, the fact that the rates of growth of Islamic populations, in the world as a whole as well as in individual countries like ours, are much higher than those of non-Islamic peoples cannot but have profound effects: after all, the fact that in close to 180 of our constituencies, Muslims can already determine who gets elected is already having major effects: it has led Muslim intellectuals to draw attention to these constituencies again and again by circulating maps, and thereby urging Muslims to realise the strength and influence they would acquire by welding themselves into a vote block; that very fact has led almost all “secular” parties to pander to Muslims as Muslims. Elements of this pandering bear directly on security: leads have not been followed, suspects have been let off, organisations like SIMI have not been nailed, illegal infiltrators have not been thrown out as they are Muslims, a terrorist convicted of attacking the Parliament no less cannot be hanged.

Climate change: as the Himalayan glaciers melt, our food security will be jeopardized, the shortage of drinking water, already acute, will become explosive; by the time oceans rise just two feet, a good part of Bangladesh’s coastal areas will go under water – the rationalization for making their way into India will become even greater in the eyes of the people and rulers of Bangladesh.

One additional factor should be kept in mind, and that is the lightning pace at which change is occurring. Even demographic changes are now proceeding at a pace that, in just twenty/thirty years from now, demography alone would have caused dramatic shifts in the balances to which we are accustomed today. As far as other factors are concerned, “lightning pace” indeed describes the changes that are taking place. Forget technology, recall just the collapse of Soviet Union and how swiftly it changed the world, how swiftly it altered the options that were available to India. Recall the vicissitudes through which the US has passed: how it was being written about after Vietnam; but then how its position catapulted with the disintegration of the Soviet Union; but how swiftly it got hobbled in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Look at the speed at which China has acquired the position it has today. Look at the pace at which the situation in Pakistan has changed. Look at the pace at which Maoists spread, and acquired power in Nepal… And look at the pace at which the nature of war is changing: from Vietnam to the 1st Gulf War; from a conventional challenge in the 1st Gulf War to those posed by terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Look at the frequency and effectiveness of cyber attacks – the way the most wired country in Europe, Estonia, was paralysed for over a month; the way Georgia was buffeted; the almost weekly attacks into the systems of countries and agencies that we would think are most secure. Defence policies and forces have, therefore, not just to change; they have to acquire the meta-capacity to keep changing, to keep changing at lightning speed.

Each of these likely developments has myriad implications for our Defence Policy:

• We have to make up for the manpower crisis that has developed in the armed forces as lucrative avenues have opened up with the growth and modernization of the economy.

• We must do, we can do much, much more in regard to weapons production. The record stretching over decades shows, that we cannot rely on DRDO alone. Contrast what we read about China’s pursuit of “assassin’s mace” weapons, of “magic weapons” with what we know about systems that were to have been developed by DRDO a decade ago. Considerable scientific, technical and engineering potential has developed in our private sector – we must mobilize it for equipping our forces. Apart from the help doing so will give our defence preparedness, doing so will help develop our capabilities further. We can and must do much more to get foreign arms manufacturers to set up production facilities in India. To begin with, we must rid ourselves of miasmas by which we feel secure when we import entire systems from abroad, and feel we are jeopardizing our security when we are roping in Indian and foreign private producers to manufacture the items here.

• Weapons procurement: acquisitions have slowed to a crawl in the last few years. As a result our preparedness has certainly suffered. The major responsibility for this lies without doubt with Ministers. But I am surprised at the number of times even defence personnel say that, what with Bofors and other inquiries, it is safer not to take a decision than to take one and have oneself dragged into an inquiry. How can honest, upright men, men who are prepared to risk their lives on the front, be sent into such a scare by the prospect of inquiries? To face up to the enemy, we need dispatch in decisions; we need officers with integrity, with reputations so solid that no one will even doubt that they would have decided one way rather than another for collateral reasons. But we also need dispatch and integrity of another kind – in inquiries, if any are initiated. They must be concluded swiftly. And the few who are corrupt must be punished, lethally punished. That is the cure, rather than adding yet another loop into the decision process.

• Intelligence: Each time the terrorists succeed there is a spate of news stories: “RAW had warned,” “Centre had written to the state”… There are several limbs to the matter. First, we need operational, actionable intelligence – rather than cover your backside, “A terrorist strike during Republic Day cannot be ruled out” reports. Second, traditional capacities have to be broadened to cover the entire range of hostile actions: when the instrument of choice is to send large armies across borders, a few agents across the border or satellite images will do; but when we must track down half a dozen terrorists an entirely different order of penetration and surveillance is required; when the enemy is preparing the soil through political, economic, agitational initiatives to penetrate and acquire acceptability – as Naxalites do over a long time – yet another sort of early warning system is needed. Moreover, we have to devise ways to overcome the asymmetry that handicaps us vis a vis both religiously instigated countries and groups – Islamic terrorists, Pakistan – and China – a closed society. Access to both is so very difficult contrasted with the ease with which an open, loose society like ours can be penetrated. And in the case of each hostile country and group, we need to develop two entirely different types of information. Our agencies have to be in a position to provide decision makers with information about individuals, their nets and relationships: how will Kayani react in a crisis? But they must also be able to provide forecasts at a macro level of the possible evolution of countries and forces: where are the countries hostile to us liable to be in the coming decades, where are those with whom we can hope to ally liable to be? How will each possible future of each of these countries affect our interests? Our agencies are quite deficient in providing either sort of information. I remember how exasperated a decision maker was by the sort of data that was made available to him about General Kayani when the latter took over as Army Chief in Pakistan. But there is the other dimension too: some of our intelligence officers have been weaned as fixers for rulers: their core competence is in fixing the individuals whom the rulers of the day find inconvenient. They carry this approach to intelligence over to external intelligence also: how well what George Friedman says about US intelligence applies to our agencies – the CIA is excellent, he says, at telling the American President what the ruler of country X told his mistress last night, but very poor at forecasting the next big thing![6] But in our case, even the salacious information our agencies may put together about the target person cannot be put to use to suborn him as he is quite out of reach!

Gathering that information, drawing the right inferences from it are the necessary first steps, but they are first steps. We need an administrative and governance system which will, in fact, take the requisite action on what the agencies say. Recall how for a year prior to, and right up to just three days before the assault on Mumbai, the Home Minister, the National Security Advisor, the Prime Minister himself had been declaring in speech after speech that cadre of Lashkar-o-Tayyaba were being trained to, and were therefore liable to use the sea route to carry out strikes in a coastal city like Mumbai. In the event, the cadre of exactly that organization used exactly that route to execute exactly that assault in exactly that city.

That last illustration points to the central difficulty. More consequential than any of the developments we listed above – from events in Pakistan to the attitude of China, from technological change to climate change – is going to be our capacity to respond to them, and this is where lies our principal vulnerability. The alarming decline of the type in public life, the resulting paralysis of institutions; the trivialization of discourse; the evaporation of governance from large parts of the country; a State and society that do not want to face facts – naturally, unless reversed, these factors will swamp whatever specific steps may be taken to deal with the sorts of individual challenges that have been listed above.

We cannot pursue this aspect of national security on this occasion, though it is the very bedrock of national security, indeed of national existence. What we should be doing in regard even to the specific illustrations of measures that have been listed above will require in each case a separate lecture. Today, I shall list just a few propositions, and that too in telegraphise, about items on which departure is necessary.

But first, two preliminary points:

• Our way of looking at things must keep pace with the changes, and change at the pace of those changes. Armies are often said to be defeated by “paradigm paralysis”. Armies under the control of bureaucracies and political leaders who don’t even have a paradigm are doubly in peril.

• As citizens, we are not in the defence establishment; most of us do not have access even to the media. Even so, we have a role to play. Preparedness, the direction preparations will take, the morale of armies, of people at large are affected by the general environment. We can contribute to that – even when we have no access to the decision makers or the media. Consider:

• How many of you have computers?

• How many of you surf the Internet?

• How many of you saw the news-report about how an inquiry originating in the Dalai Lama’s office uncovered a vast operation pointing to China through which computers in 130 countries were penetrated – everything in them was made transparent; information from them, even the keys that the users struck, were being relayed in real time to servers back in China’s Hainan province; everything in them was opened to being controlled by manipulators the targets did not even know about? How many of you saw the news item about this study?

• How many of you then went on to download and study the Report? After all, the Munk Centre and the authors put the full text on the Internet the very day the papers reported their findings.

• We should track down information and disseminate it like the chain-letters of old, except that we can now use the infinitely more potent Internet. We should learn from groups and individuals in China. They outwit the authorities there: thousands and thousands of bloggers dodge Chinese authorities and their censorship to acquire and spread information. When, we have computers, when we surf the Internet, when there is no one to block out information here in India, when in spite of these advantages we do not use the freedom and facilities we have and acquire the information that is so vital to our security and broadcast it, do we not forego what is in our power to do for helping create the environment that is needed to shore up the security of our country?

Among the principal matters on which we need to change direction are the following:

1. Our basic, our over-riding objective must to forge a strong India. A society in which everyone is pursuing money the way most are in India today just will not be able to meet the challenges that confront our country.

2. And that strength must be what the Chinese characterise as Comprehensive National Strength. The Soviet Union was the second most powerful country militarily; it collapsed without a shot being fired – as its economy was stagnant and uncreative. Even today, Japan is the second largest economy in the world, but it counts for little – as it lacks commensurate military strength and is unwilling to deploy such diplomatic influence as it has.

3. It is certainly not enough to be stronger than we were yesterday. We have to be stronger than are those who are out to harm us.

4. We must be stronger than our rivals will be years from now: that is, we have to begin acquiring the capacity to counter a capability that our rival is building – e.g., in “magic weapons”, in space, in Information Warfare – taking into account the gestation period, the number of years it will take to acquire that countervailing capacity.

5. We must benchmark ourselves against the strongest rival who is likely to seek to hobble and harm us – in our case, and in our neighbourhood, that is China.

6. As a country that does not plan to strike first, we have to equip ourselves for the entire range of possible assaults. All too often, in India, our discussions veer off into “either/or” – either lethal, light and wired forces or Special Forces or corps level forces. But the angle of vision should be, “and also”. No single formula, no single type of force, no magic switch will suffice. In this context, we must remember that, today, perhaps for the first time since Independence, resources are not the constraint: you just have to recall the colossal amounts that governments today throw away to see that this is so – in just the last year, Rs. 60,000 crore for debt relief; Rs. 30,000 crore for NREGS; Rs. 50,000 crore for the Pay Commission; Rs. 1,00,000 crore for fertilizer and POL subsidies – you just have to total even these few items to see that we certainly have the resources for a great a leap in defence and foreign policy operations, including foreign aid.

7. But, in addition to deploying resources, we need to think anew. Today, as each strike orchestrated by Pakistan reminds us, we are a country without options. The time when large armies could be sent across international borders is gone – unless the difference between the adversaries be as large as between the US and Grenada, or Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does the other measure that is shouted out each time there is a terrorist strike by Pakistanis, “Bomb the terrorist camps” promise any greater returns – the fact is that terrorists do not live and train in fixed campuses: three/four will gather, exchange information and messages, one of them will teach the others how to put together an IED, they will disperse. The one option that alone would be practical is to do a Kashmir to Pakistan in Pakistan.

8. But a capacity to exercise such an option cannot be built up in a week just because the terrorists have struck. It can be built only over 20 years, by unremitting effort over 20 years. But here, each government that comes, stops, if it doesn’t reverse initiatives that its predecessor had commenced.

9. Acquiring a capacity includes acquiring the reputation that we will use the capacity we have acquired. The country should be viewed as a porcupine, not a peacock. The response must be swift. It must be seen to be in retaliation for what has been inflicted on us. It must personally hit those who organized and instigated the assault against us. And/or it must inflict an unacceptable level of damage on their country. That is why it is no more than an announcement of helplessness to keep proclaiming, “We will crush terrorist if they come into India.” Why will the controllers of ISI and the Pakistani Army stop sending terrorists across when they know that all that India will attempt to do is to kill the terrorists inside India?

10. All instruments must be put to work for the same, designated purpose: when you invest in China, all facilities are swiftly given; as you settle into operations, pressures commence – to train locals, to share software; when China falls out with your home country, you are left in little doubt that unless you work to make your home country ease off, you will not be able to continue your profitable operations in China. Moreover, all agencies of the State work to ensure that you bend to serve the ends of China: when China invests in Africa, the economic ministries are not working on their own to acquire access to natural resources; several agencies are simultaneously working to acquire influence. And, make no mistake: China does not hesitate to use that influence. Recall the correspondence from Pakistan that was published by The Indian Express last year in which the Pakistani Foreign Office apprised its envoy in Nigeria of discussions with the Chinese Government, and instructed it to coordinate efforts with the Chinese representatives to ensure that members of the Organization of African States oppose reorganization proposals that might give India a seat in the Security Council;[7] recall the veto it exercised at the Asian Development Bank in January 2009 to block a routine loan to India because it included a project in Arunachal Pradesh. Similarly, we have only to recall the role that manipulating the international environment played in ensuring victory for the North Vietnamese to see how foreign and defence policies must move in tandem. And not just in a crisis. Even this elementary lesson is very important for us as our ministries and departments work in silos.

11. We must acquire the requisite capacities. There are several lemmas to this:

* We must work on an alliance system. Reflect for a moment: Which are the countries that will do China’s bidding on Security Council reform? Which will risk anything in our interest?

* We must seek alliances knowing full well that each country, if it joins up, will do so for its own reasons, that most often these will be complex, they will entail a balancing of many conflicting assessments within that country.

* We must work for an array of several intersecting alliances; different countries will join us on different issues: e.g., some are today apprehensive of Pakistan-centered terrorism, others are apprehensive of China’s rise. Working with others is often exasperating but, as Churchill is reported to have said, the one thing worse than fighting a war with allies is fighting a war without allies!

* We should forge alliances not just with countries, we should also forge them with nationalities and sub-nationalities within countries – with the Baluch, the Pashtun, with the peoples who are being suppressed in Gilgit-Baltistan, in POK. If at nothing else, look at what Iran has been doing in Lebanon, what it is now doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* Indeed, we should seek to build alliances and working relationships not just with nationalities and sub-nationalities within countries but with groups: so many groups within China and abroad – at the Universities of Cambridge, of Toronto, and in several hubs of software development – are working to get around Chinese censorship, to get facts out about events in China, to get information to the Chinese; are we in touch with them?

* We must not be, and must not be seen to be dependent on, or subject to the approval of any other country – which our enemies can dissuade. That is, while we must work out alliances, our adversary must know that we will act on our own if necessary. Look at the way China has been able to dissuade France, Germany, the US time and again just by cancelling a visit, just by holding out the possibility that a contract may not come through. Were we seen to be susceptible to persuasion by one of these countries, would that country not be pressed to make us see merit in the Chinese position?

What is the inference that an adversary will draw when, while referring to the Pakistan-trained and -based terrorist attack in Mumbai, he hears the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, tell the House Appropriations Subcommittee

We worked very hard, as did the prior Administration, to prevent India from reacting. But we know that the insurgents and al Qaeda and their syndicate partners are pretty smart. They are not going to cease their attacks, inside India, because they are looking for exactly the kind of reaction that we all hope to prevent.

So we do have a lot of work to do, with the Indian Government, to make sure that they continue to exercise the kind of restraint they showed after Mumbai, which was remarkable, especially given the fact that it was the political season.

And when he hears her testify that that work continues? For Mrs. Clinton told the House Committee that, when the US President met Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting, they discussed “the issue of how India can do more to tamp down any reaction, on any front, like Mumbai could have provoked.” [8]

Would he not conclude that there is a device in Washington to “tamp down” India?

* Nor should we rely on even closest allies to do our work for us. Each will proceed by what is in its national interest; by what is in its national interest as perceived by a handful; by what is in its national interest as perceived by a handful at that moment:

* Recall the difficulties that Vietnam faced during its long struggle: in spite of the strongest opposition in the highest reaches of the Communist Party, Ho Chi Minh and his closest associates were forced to compromise at Geneva in 1954: the USSR wanted to ease relations with the West, China was loath to get into another war with US so soon after Korea. It faced difficulties of another sort when these two allies, on whom it was relying for assistance, fell out among themselves for reasons that had nothing to do with what it was doing to liberate South Vietnam.

* For long Saddam Hussein is good as a counterweight to Iran, then he becomes evil; one day the US Ambassador in Baghdad leads him to believe that, were he to press his claim to Kuwait, the US would be indifferent as it is not interested in inter se issues among Arab States, the next his lunge into Kuwait becomes the reason for an all-out invasion; one day the Taliban are valiant fighters against the Soviet Union, today they are vermin who have to be squashed.

* At the present time, association with US is in our interest, given the attitude of China for instance. But we have to be on guard. There is a strong feeling in the US that the Islamic world has come to conclude that the US has launched a war against Islam. There is strong inference, therefore, that the US must ensure some outcomes that convinces the Muslim world to the contrary: but the US can’t do much on Chechnya because of Russia; beyond occasionally expressing some forked comment asking Israel to be reasonable, it can’t do much on Palestine because of the influence Israel has in the US; the obvious focus, therefore, becomes, India – that it should make concessions to Pakistan. Notice that, in these prescriptions, it is always India that should make the concessions. When Musharraf was strong, the counsel was, “But you have to bend half way to meet his expectations – after all, he is going to be around for long, and you will have to keep dealing with him.” When he began weakening, the counsel became, “But you just have to do something that will enable him to regain legitimacy with the Pakis – after all, he is the best bet.” He went. But the counsel today also is the same: “You just have to do something that would help stabilize the civilian government – after all, it is a civilian government which is the best bet for peace…”

* Bearing these cautions in mind is vital as Americans already have enormous influence within the political and bureaucratic structures of India as well as the media – that was so brazenly manifest during the debates over the nuclear deal: recall the perverse reporting by our newspapers and channels during that controversy.

12.Civil-Military relations: today the political leadership does not lack just expertise, it lacks even elementary competence to assess the situation, to weigh options; it has the shortest of short horizon, when, as we have seen, to counter Pakistan’s proxy war, to meet the challenge from China we need to pursue policies for decades at a stretch; and the political establishment is hopelessly fragmented: it is not able to do the obvious things that are required for national security – in the hope that doing so will get it into the good books of Muslims, it throws away vital instruments – POTA, for instance – it drags its feet in cooperating with potential allies – Israel, for instance. The bureaucrats are little different: they are little politicians themselves, more and more of them are tagged on to some godfather in politics; their horizons are all too often as short as those of the politician they serve – their next posting, their CR, maintaining the hegemony of the bureaucracy in, say, the Defence Ministry. And they are parochial to boot: witness what they have done with the Sixth Pay Commission – even as the crisis in staffing the Armed Forces stares the country in its face. The damage that was done by some Joint Secretary barring the Punjab police from using the requisite weapons to counter the terrorists, weapons it had in its almirahs; the harm that was done by rejecting pleas for snowmobiles in Siachin… these have been documented time and again. Yet the tradition remains to defer to them, to wait upon them to decide between alternatives: the other day, General Ved Malik, former Chief of the Army, drew attention to the fact that a draft “national strategy paper prepared by the military staff has been gathering dust in the National Security Advisor’s Office since January 2007.” [9] Will the paper gain in validity – in the sense of it being more reliable – because the NSA or the Minister appends his signature to it? I cannot think of a single person who would answer, “Yes”. The only relevance of their seal will be that the paper can then be used as a basis for planning – recruitment, weapons systems, and the like. But the help that even a paper approved by these worthies would give in smoothening the passage for acquisitions, force formation, etc., would be marginal: a query from a Joint Secretary would still be enough to stall the measure for months; the Minister may continue to dither and not decide a proposal even though it follows directly from the paper he has approved!

The tradition of deferring to those occupying chairs in ministries has its roots in a time that is long gone – when leaders like Sardar Patel and Panditji ruled. For reasons that have been sketched above, this tradition of deference, of subservience needs to be reexamined.

Several lemmas follow.

The first, of course, is that the leadership of the Defence Forces must provide, it must insistently provide strategic advice to civilian leadership.

It must do so to point of resignation, if necessary. Senior officers of the Defence Forces are too easily discouraged by the discomfiture of General Thimmayya forty five years ago, by the ministerial reaction to the statement by General Rodrigues that the Armed Forces could not but be affected by the deterioration in governance. I just cannot comprehend how persons who are willing to risk their lives for the security of the country are not prepared to risk losing an assignment at Army Headquarters, a promotion, or a decoration for the same security of the country. After all, what else can the politician or civil servant conspire and accomplish? And the fact is that, while he may be able to accomplish that little bit in regard to an officer or two, he just cannot do so on any scale or for any length of time. Legitimacy is no longer either with the political class or the bureaucracy. There is a key lesson from the American experience in Vietnam. Notice how those who were directing the US Armed Forces at the time viewed their diffidence in retrospect:

It was clear during the Vietnam War and even more so since its conclusion that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior military leaders disagreed with their civilian superiors on fundamental issues of war policy…

Yet not a single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or senior field commander ever resigned in protest. “Not once during the war did the JCS advise the commander-in-chief or the secretary of defense that the strategy being pursued most probably would fail and that the United States would be unable to achieve its objectives,” noted retired army general Bruce Palmer Jr. That at least the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have resigned has been the postwar judgment of many influential officers. “Somewhere in 1967 or early 1968,” argued Phillip B. Davidson, Westmoreland’s chief intelligence officer, “one or more of the Chiefs should have stood up and told the president publicly that that what he was doing in Vietnam would not work, and then resigned.” Harry Summers Jr. believed it “was the duty and responsibility of his military advisors to warn (the president) of the likely consequences of his actions, to recommend alternatives, and, as Napoleon put it, to tender their resignations rather than be an instrument of their army’s downfall.” Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson later regretted his failure to resign: “I should have gone to see the president. I should have taken off my stars. I should have resigned. It was the worst, the most immoral decision I’ve ever made.” Chief of Naval Operations David McDonald also lamented (in retirement), “Maybe we military men were all weak. Maybe we should have stood up and pounded the table. I was part of it and I’m sort of ashamed of myself too. At times I wonder, ‘why did I go along with this kind of stuff?’” [10]

And that advice must be tendered as the unified stand of all three Forces. The top officers must not let the slightest inter-service rivalry, or consideration get to the politician or civil servant: for the politician as much as the bureaucrat will use the slightest cleavage to do nothing, to let the existing arrangements continue, at best to do the least, most convenient thing. Neither is competent to adjudicate disagreements between the Forces. Each will use the disagreements only to fortify his position as arbiter. That is another key lesson from Vietnam:

The inter-service rivalries that the Kennedy and Johnson administrations inherited were so acute as to preclude all but minimal cooperation on behalf of a common objective. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were a committee of equals with a relatively weak chairman, and the individual service chiefs had no mandate other than to advance their own parochial agendas. Accordingly, they tended to serve up conflicting advice, lowest-common-denominator advice, or no advice at all. The JCS were unable to provide useful and timely unified military advice and to formulate military strategy. In the crucial decision-making period of mid-1964 to mid-1965, they could never seem to offer more than what amounted to single-service solutions stapled together…

Such a cacophony of views made it impossible for the JCS to meet their legal obligation of providing the president the best military advice. It also permitted those disdainful of military opinion in the first place to ignore whatever advice was proffered. As a populist, Lyndon Johnson had an innate mistrust of the military. “It’s had to be a hero without a war,” he once told the historian Doris Kearns. “That’s why I’m so suspicious of the military.” McNamara also had little use for military opinion, which he regarded as hidebound and simpleminded… [11]

Do the words not seem to apply, literally, to our case: “The Joint Chiefs of Staff were a committee of equals with a relatively weak chairman, and the individual service chiefs had no mandate other than to advance their own parochial agendas. Accordingly, they tended to serve up conflicting advice, lowest-common-denominator advice, or no advice at all… they could never seem to offer more than what amounted to single-service solutions stapled together…”

Of course, it is often argued that for the Services to tender unified advice, government must first institute the equivalent of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff with one head, etc. That, of course, should happen, but, as the American example itself shows, constituting such a body with one formal head will not make up for moral timidity. More than that, the record of the last few decades of governance in India, leads us to not put as much store by formal structures as on intense, incessant, perpetual informal discourse – among Chiefs of course, but also all along the line between officers of the three services.

13.Environment. It is a commonplace that as important in determining the outcome as weaponry is the fighting spirit of the soldier. It is equally a commonplace that today, when war is “unrestricted”, when technology has obscured the difference between front and rear, between soldier and civilian, what determines the outcome is not just the spirit of the soldier or even that of the fighting forces as a whole; the morale and perceptions and the readiness of the general population to bear sacrifices are just as important, all the more so the longer the engagement lasts: the US was defeated as much by the sapping of morale within the US during the Vietnam war as by setbacks on the battlefield. “But you never defeated us in a battle,” an American strategist told his Vietnamese counterpart years later at a conference. “That is true,” said the latter, “but irrelevant.”

The key is the confidence with which a society goes after those who assault it: today, as we have noted above, we cannot investigate cells, we cannot pursue suspects; the hands of security forces are tied in encounters; we can’t stem Bangladeshi infiltrators; we are not able to hang Afzal Guru – even after the Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence for attacking Parliament. The nature of discourse is such that the State apparatus is perpetually on the defensive.

The key is the extent to which are people prepared to shoulder sacrifices. There is so much talk about Kandahar, about the Government having humiliated the country by giving in to the demands of the hijackers and releasing the terrorists. I can testify from personal knowledge, and as one who throughout opposed any deal with the terrorists, to the enormous pressure that the media’s coverage put on the senior leaders in those days. The channels and newspapers had just one focus: the country was bombarded with images of relatives of the hostages shouting and wailing and beating their chests, “The Government is doing nothing to get our sons and daughters released… Bring our relatives back, we don’t care what happens, we don’t care what you do…”

This is where the greatest confusion prevails. The consequence is a debility much more severe than the fact that we are not keeping up with the latest weapons etc. It isn’t just that there is no consensus on what our strategic objective vis a vis Pakistan, China, Islam is; there is no informed discussion about it. What is it that MPs, that the media regard as vital to our national interest today? Aksai Chin? Siachin? Arunachal? Waters off the coast of Somalia? Will they see the country as being imperiled by any of these? Will they see that something vital to their own, personal existence is imperiled? Worse, given the adversarial nature of discourse and of politics today; given the ephemeral preoccupations of the media – the “breaking news” not even of this day, of this shift; given the way superciliousness has been made into the reigning ideology of the media; given the laziness by which once its reporter has got one person to say he is “for” a proposition and another to insist he is “against”, the typical channel proceeds as if its job is done; given all this, on every issue – from WTO to terrorism, Pakistan and China, from Aksai Chin to Arunachal – national resolve is dangerously dissipated. The result is as obvious as it will be fatal. We often hear it said, we ourselves say, “Americans can’t stand the sight of body-bags.” In our case, the problem has become the opposite one: we don’t see the body-bags: I have yet to come across a newspaper reader who can recall the number of CRPF personnel who were blown up by the latest mine or even where they were blown up. And this at a time when, as we noted above, war has become “unrestricted”, when it has become “total”, when it has erased distinctions between ‘front” and “rear”, between soldier and civilian.

With this as the prevailing situation, people will be for the action as long as the going is good. The moment there is a reverse, they will take recourse to doubt: on our locus standi – as in regard to Kashmir every other day; as in regard to Indo-China border. Ever so often, the most momentary difficulty becomes the occasion to urge that we give in. Recall what happened during the agitation that was whipped up in Kashmir when the government decided to lease land so that toilets and shelter could be constructed for pilgrims going to the Amarnath shrine. So-called “national” papers and magazines carried columns, “Time for us to give up Kashmir, to cut it loose…” The agitation was soon over. Elections were soon held. Another elected Government assumed office. Had we listened to the advice of the columnists, Kashmir would have been ceded. It would have been ceded yet again! Ever so often, I am left with the impression that were Arunachal or some other part to be hacked off one day, all that would happen is that it would fill the slot of that day’s “breaking news”, and that week’s “War of Words”: who is responsible for the loss – Panditji? Indira Gandhi? BJP…? Yet, ups and downs, setbacks and rebounds are inevitable in war.

The lessons are manifest:

* We must make nationalism respectable again

* We must make pursuing the national interest legitimate

* We must educate the people. Look at the cry that goes up after each terrorist attack, “Bomb terrorist camps in Pakistan.” But there are no fixed camps; second, bombing solidifies people behind regimes: from the bombing of Germany during the Second World War to the bombing of Hanoi and other targets in North Vietnam, that is what happened: will the same not happen if all we did was to lob a few bombs inside Pakistan? Should we not educate the people, even more so the politicians about such options?

* We must exhume the connections of, the selective humanism of liberals, civil rightists, peace-mongers. Recently, G. Parthasarthi, one of our foremost diplomats and a former High Commissioner to Pakistan, inquired, “Why don’t we see them lighting candles at Wagha pleading with the Taliban to moderate their Islam?”

* We must make our decision-makers think beyond clichés. Is a united, prosperous, and therefore strong, Pakistan really in India’s interest? Ajai Sahni is right when he reminds us that India is unique in the world and in history – it is the only country to have argued that a strong and united enemy is in its interest! Similarly, how often we hear it said, “We are a resilient people”? Ajai Sahni reminds us that the one sense in which we are resilient is that, whatever the blow, we soon get back to “our tawdry lives as before.”[12]

So, educate, engage, train – the policy makers, as well as the people at large.

14.To help create that environment, that climate of opinion, to help weld a national resolve, to provide alternatives to the people, to the leadership, we require much, much greater intellectual work:

Work that looks decades ahead: to likely transformations in the nature of warfare; to the likely evolution of countries – those on whom we rely today, those that oppose us today; to the likely availability of non-renewable resources, to the vulnerabilities in their continued and uninterrupted supply.

Work that dissects the here and now: which weighs options that the country should have when the next attack on Parliament or the next Mumbai occurs, and spells out what needs to be done to acquire those options.

* As it is necessary to recalibrate the balance between the “generalist” civilians and the Armed Forces, personnel of the latter must undertake detailed analysis of the political decisions that affected our wars, that affect our preparedness today: the decision to halt our men as they advanced in Kashmir, having driven out the invaders; the decision to refer the matter to the UN, when even Liaquat Ali had not demanded that be done; the fatal assessment of China in the 1950s and early 1960s; the fine set of decisions that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971; on the other side, the Simla Agreement; the decision to lift an obscure preacher, Bhindranwale, for countering the Akalis; the decision to boost ULFA, and then the Bodo National Front to counter the Assam students; the decision to allow training grounds to the LTTE, and then to send the IPKF to squash them; the bus to Lahore, Operation Parakram; the compromises surrounding Rubiya Syed, Hazratbal, Charar-e-Sharif, Kandahar; the stop-go stances towards Naxalites, towards ULFA.

* In addition, a very detailed roster must be prepared of the costs that have been inflicted on the country, and on security personnel by specific decisions at the administrative level, and the failure to take decisions when these were required.

* Equally, we should study our successes: the way secessionist movements have been defanged in Tamil Nadu, in Andhra; the way insurrections have been quelled in Punjab, in Tripura; the way Naxalites have been crushed in Andhra by the Greyhounds in spite of the politicians…

The studies must be detailed, they must be absolutely candid. And they must not just be internal studies at the War College or the National Defence College. They must be widely publicized: so that people learn the cost of alternatives, so that our leaders learn to cease and desist, so that all learn to heed professional advice, in particular the advice of the Armed Forces.

So that such work may be done, several Universities must be enabled to have war-studies departments; the business community should be enabled to set up, truly autonomous, truly first rate think-tanks; and journalists should specialize in security matters. The most important thing in this regard is to desist from making bodies like the National Security Advisory Board yet another parking lot – for accommodating persons who cannot be given places elsewhere.

All this should happen. But I would put much greater store by ex-servicemen: they must use their vast experience to write and speak – few carry the credibility today that they do, most certainly the politicians and civil servants do not, and none can lay claim to the first hand experience that they have had on these matters. And they must not just speak, they must speak out, loud and clear:

Gar tan nahin, zubaan sahi, aazaad kuch to ho

Dushnaam, nalaah, haa-au-hoo, fariyaad kuch to ho…

15.Of course, over riding all this is the condition of governance, of the type of leaders we select – from top to bottom. No amount of firepower can make up for a corrupt, illegitimate, ill-trained, ill-equipped, ill-motivated local police force. No amount of excellence in analysis can make up for a venal, shortsighted leadership that is chasing money, that is obsessed with its next election, that is prepared to throw away essential instruments and thereby sacrifice national security if doing so holds the promise of bringing a few votes, that hasn’t competence enough to comprehend the advice that is put up, that hasn’t the resolve to act on it.

But, though central to everything, that is a subject for some other occasion.


[1] Walter Lipmann, U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic, Little, Brown, Boston, 1943, p. 51.

[2] For instance, on February 2009, the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates was in Krakow for a NATO conference. The correspondent from Geo Television of Pakistan, saying that there had been a lot of criticism in Washington, in particular from Richard Holbrooke, about the deal that the Pakistan Government had made with the militants in Swat Valley, asked, “If Pakistan succeeds in that particular area to pacify the militant activity, will the United States allow the Afghans to make a similar type of agreement?” The Defence Secretary replied, “Well, we have said all along that ultimately some sort of political reconciliation has to be part of the long-term solution in Afghanistan. And so I think that if there is a reconciliation, if insurgents are made to put down their arms, if the reconciliation is essentially on the terms being offered by the government, then I think that we would be very open to that. There is going to have to be some political component of reconciliation before this all ends.” [US Department of Defence, News Transcript, 20 February 2009.] By the evening that remark, in particular the statement that “we would be very open to that” was seen to have let out too much! So, as The Huffington Post reported, later the Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said: "The Secretary is too polite to take issue with the premise of the question, but he was in no way equating the prospect for reconciliation in Afghanistan with whatever deal the Pakistani government may or may not be trying to cut with militants in Swat province." [The Huffington Post, 20 February 2009.]

[3] Vikram Sood, “Can Pakistan survive?,” Eternal India, Volume I, Number 4, January 2009, pp. 34-47.

[4] For a representative account which brings out the diabolic brilliance that underlay 9/11, George Friedman, America’s Secret War, Little, Brown, New York, 2004.

[5] George Friedman, op cit., p. 213.

[6] George Friedman, op. cit., pp. 61-62.

[7] The Indian Express

[8] Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Remarks before House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Washington DC, 23 April 2009.

[9] The Tribune, 25 April 2009.

[10] Jeffery Record, “How America’s own military performance in Vietnam aided and abetted the ‘North’s’ victory,” in Why the North Won the Vietnam War, Marc Jason Gilbert (ed.), Palgrave, New York, 2002, pp. 116-36, at p. 132.

[11] Ibid, p. 120.

[12] Ajai Sahni, “Counter-terrorism and the Flailing State,” Eternal India, Volume I, No. 5, February 2009, pp. 39-40.

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