Security News Update

October 2010


I’ve been rather busy this week getting ready for a class, but I’ve still been sorting through the news and analysis as time permits. Here’s what’s been hiding in my backlog:

Pakistan Thwarts Prime Minister Assassination Plot, Police Claim
Pakistani police said they had thwarted a plot to assassinate the country’s prime minister, foreign minister and other senior officials after arresting a gang of seven militants.

Pakistan: Dissension in the Ranks
Pakistan’s most prominent — and vocal — retired chiefs of the army are demanding that the country’s air force be ordered to shoot down drones and helicopters — and increasingly angry active duty officers are voicing their approval in off-the-record conversations with Pakistani journalists.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Arms Push Angers America
Pakistan has been secretly accelerating the pace of its nuclear weapons programme, infuriating the US which is trying to cap worldwide stocks of fissile material and improve fraught relations with a fragile ally in the Afghanistan war.

Hu Revives Quasi-Maoist Tactics to Stem Social Instability
President Hu Jintao has revived a key Maoist concept—”correctly handling contradictions among the people”—so as to more effectively tackle China’s growing socio-political instability. In a speech to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo on the eve of the October 1 National Day, Hu urged party cadres to “boost [society’s] harmonious factors to the maximum degree” through implementing policies that “match the wishes of the people, that take care of the people’s worries, and that can win over the hearts of the people.”

Chinese Communist elders call for free speech
A group of 23 Chinese Communist Party elders have written a letter calling for the country to scrap its restrictions on freedom of speech. The unusual message comes as China has placed the wife of new Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo under de facto house arrest.

How China Plays the Great Game
One of the reasons the United States and its NATO allies are losing ground to China in the global geopolitical race is the belief in the permanence of tradition and precedent in world affairs—this in an age when paradigm shifts are taking place at an accelerating pace, and when even core realities can change beyond recognition within a decade.

How China is Weaker Than it Looks
These days, many looking at China from the outside see its towering economic statistics and assume that this growing wealth isn’t just about money—that it’s about power as well.

Why Taiwan finds Washington unreliable
Over the past decade, Washington’s Taiwan policy has created unnecessary dilemmas for Taiwan’s political leadership. On the one hand, if a president of Taiwan is considered too provocative toward China, Washington, rightfully irritated over undue tensions, will freeze relations with the democratic island. On the other hand, if a president of Taiwan reconciles with China, Washington’s impulse is to neglect relations, confident that the cross Strait “problem” is resolving itself. It’s a small wonder why many Taiwanese believe that Washington is unreliable.

New Twists over Old Disputes in China-Japan Relations
Sino-Japanese relations took a decisive turn for the worse in the past month. At issue, Japan’s seizure of a Chinese trawler and its crew, and then the continuous detention of the captain after the crew and the boat were released.

China’s Dilemma
Even as Chinese society is growing more robust, its authoritarian state remains committed to social and political control. Emerging tensions between the two could push forward social and political reform.

Strategic Implications of China’s Consolidation of Rare Earth Industries
The Chinese government is stepping up control over the country’s rare earth supply, key elements needed to develop advanced military technology.

India to Lift Vietnam Military Ties
It was bound to happen eventually. With China’s rapidly increasing involvement in India’s backyard in places like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal (not to mention Pakistan and Afghanistan), Indian policymakers were bound to want to try and up the ante in China’s neighbourhood too.

Delhi sweats as China inches toward Nepal
China’s latest expansion of its Himalayan transport infrastructure, a rail line in Tibet from Lhasa to Xigaze, isn’t sitting well with India. The railway will bring Chinese military capability closer to Nepal, and will increase Beijing’s influence over an area seen by India as a strategic buffer.

Russia Reveals Detailed Data On Defense Spending Until 2013
Russia has made public for the first time in many years a detailed account of its defense spending until 2013, the Vedomosti daily said on Tuesday.

Spate of bombings leave Thais baffled, unnerved
Deadly bombings across Bangkok have evoked fear and confusion as the country’s military and police have been unable to keep the capital safe despite their years of counterterrorism training by the U.S.

Worms of Mass Destruction
The alarms are deafening but who is listening? U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn wrote a remarkable piece in Foreign Affairs warning of the threats and dangers posed by cyberattacks. Shortly thereafter, as if on cue, the Stuxtnet worm struck Iran. Its target was controllers made by Siemens that Iran is using in its nuclear systems causing them to fail and hence potentially crippling the entire program.

Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage.

Posted by Chris van Avery in Foreign Policy, Homeland Security, Maritime Security

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