Author Archive

Understanding Asia-Pacific Sea Power
In this first in a series on the region’s navies, The Diplomat looks at how to measure naval power—including the US and China’s.

Germany To Raise Alarm Over China Rare Earths Restrictions at G-20
Stung by Chinese muscle-flexing over minerals crucial for high-technology industries, the German government said Thursday that it would raise the alarm at the Group of 20 talks, even as it looks to step up efforts to develop new supplies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

What happened to China’s ‘peaceful rise’?
How can we make sense of a People’s Republic of China that is supposed to be, in the words of Deng Xiaoping, “biding its time and hiding its capabilities,” but in fact is picking fights with most of its neighbors, including the United States?

Checking China’s Territorial Moves
How should Washington react to increasing signs of Chinese assertiveness in its neighborhood? Four CFR experts counsel firmness and engagement with China, and intensified ties between the United States and its allies.

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China policy fight
With President Obama set for a major trip to Asia next month and the Obama administration nearing the halfway point of its first term, U.S. officials tell Inside the Ring that a heated policy debate is under way over how to deal with China.

If Pakistanis Thought Like Americans
With the U.S.-Pakistani strategic dialogue resuming in Washington today, the relationship could hardly be worse. The trust deficit, already vast, has been stressed to the breaking point by NATO incursions into Pakistan and the subsequent ten-day closure of the major land supply route from Karachi to Afghanistan in retaliation. But there is a grimmer prospect.

And the winner is … Muqtada
Iraq’s next government will likely be Iran-friendly and Shi’ite-friendly, headed by incumbent Nuri al-Maliki, but crucially with the support of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. At the same time, although Iraq has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world, it will be exploited by Chinese, Russian and Asian companies, not US Big Oil – the final nail in the coffin of the neo- conservative fantasy of a Greater Middle East as an American lake.

Turkey Objects To Nato Missile Shield Targeting Iran
Turkey has imposed hurdles to Nato’s planned anti-ballistic missile shield in Europe by demanding proof that the system would not exclusively target Iran. The development raised further concerns that Turkish foreign policy was tilting outside the sphere of the Western alliance towards alignment with its eastern neighbour.

Tamil Tigers Trying To Regroup
TAMIL rebel leaders based in the United States and Norway are trying to revive their defeated separatist movement, Sri Lanka’s prime minister told parliament on Tuesday.

Trans-Atlantic Austerity: Can NATO Remain Relevant Amid Defense Cuts?
When NATO leaders convene in Lisbon in November to adopt a new Strategic Concept, the alliance’s blueprint for the future, they will find that trans-Atlantic security has entered an age of austerity. Burdened by weakened economies, allied governments are cutting their defense budgets, some significantly. However, retrenchment and reduced ambitions are not NATO’s only options.

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.

Xi’s the one?
Today, China announced that Xi Jinping has been named the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, an important sign that he’s successfully navigated this gauntlet and is destined to take over in Beijing once Hu Jintao retires in 2012.

New Taliban Terror Threat Concerns U.S. Security, Law Enforcement Officials
Senior U.S. intelligence, security and law enforcement officials are concerned over recent intelligence and “chatter” that strongly suugests the Pakistani Taliban may have already snuck another terrorist into the U.S. to launch an attack, according to Fox News Channel’s National Security Correspondent Catherine Herridge in her terrorism report yesterday.

CNN says Pakistan protecting Osama bin Laden
CNN cites an unnamed NATO official who charges that members of Pakistan’s intelligence service are giving shelter to Osama bin Laden in the country’s northwest.

Saudi intelligence warns of terror threat against France
Saudi intelligence services have warned of a new terror threat from al Qaeda against Europe, particularly in France, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Sunday.

Moscow Searches for Strategic Depth in the “Reset”
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s edict on September 23, formalizing sanctions against Iran following the UN Security Council resolution passed on June 9, has rekindled domestic interest in the “reset” policy in US-Russian bilateral relations.

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.


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.”

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Al Qaeda Is A Bigger Threat Today Than 10 Years Ago, Says Terrorism Expert
Al Qaeda is far more dangerous than it was 10 years ago, the former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit tells Deutsche Welle in an interview. He is also worried about the increased domestic threat the West is facing.

Fears of a Coup in Iraq; U.S. Advises Politicians To Be Cautious
Iraqi political and security sources in Baghdad and the mid-Euphrates provinces have warned of a real danger of a military coup or of an attempt by Shi’ite military militias, associated with Iran, of taking control of the regime in Iraq.

Interpol issues arrest warrants for Pakistani military officers over Mumbai attacks
Dear Pakistani military officers Maj. Ali Sameer and Maj. Iqbal: You may want to delay that long-planned vacation to London. You see, Interpol has just issued warrants for your arrest over your alleged roles in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

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Russian Navy Update
Dmitry Gorenburg has an excellent four part review regarding the state of the Russian Navy and Russia’s shipbuilding plan over the next decade.

On food, Asia can’t keep pace with rising middle class demand
WSJ story on how Asia’s food demand continues to rise while the amount of land devoted to food production is pretty much capped this decade due to urbanization and planned investments just aren’t happening as envisioned (so yield per acre not rising enough to cover the delta in demand).

Top Advisor to Iranian Regime: Prepare for Nuclear War
A top advisor to Iran’s Defense Minister has written an article published by a website run by the MOIS about when Iran could use nuclear weapons against its enemies. Its publication of a state-connected website should be seen as an unofficial statement preparing the way for Iran to leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and officially develop nukes, a game plan I laid out here.

Is Hizbullah trying to take over Lebanon with Iran’s help?
The Lebanese guerrilla group is about to have its true face unmasked by the UN Hariri investigation – of course it’s panicking.

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.

U.S. Slams Pakistani Effort On Militants
A new White House assessment steps up criticism of Pakistan’s campaign against militants, stating bluntly that its government and military have been unwilling to take action against al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists.

Why A Terrorist Strike On Europe Risks Geopolitical Meltdown
Bad as they are, right now, relations between the U.S. and Pakistan could get a whole lot worse if a feared Mumbai-style terrorist plot materializes in Europe.

Pakistan: Is It Over, Over There?
Just when it seemed that things could not get worse, they do. One would have thought that given the ongoing catastrophic floods, conditions in Pakistan were at a nadir. But last week, several incidents lowered even that bar regarding U.S.-Pakistani ties.

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China, Japan end spat over maritime collision
Japan declared an end Tuesday to a dispute with China over a high-seas collision last month and the two countries agreed to resume exchanges and projects that had been stopped because of the incident.

A Beijing Backlash
Over the past two weeks, all of Asia watched with alarm as China forced Japan to back down in a maritime dispute by downgrading diplomatic ties, and tolerating if not encouraging public street protest against Tokyo as well as halting shipments of critical industrial metals to Japan. The face-off symbolizes Beijing’s new attitude: once officially committed to rising peacefully in cooperation with its neighbors, China now seems determined to show its neighbors—and the United States—that it has growing military and economic interests that other countries ignore at their peril.

Russia along for a Chinese ride
By assigning great importance to the incident involving a Chinese fishing boat and the Japanese Coast Guard, China demonstrated that it is willing to take unexpectedly bold risks. That Russia allowed itself to become a supporter of China at the expense of the Japanese no doubt surprised and delighted Beijing. India was not as impressed.

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China signals V for victory
The Chinese media have raved about a diplomatic victory in the dispute with Japan over the arrest and eventual release of a Chinese fishing-boat captain near disputed islands in the East China Sea. But the story is far from over. Beijing’s frightening of Tokyo into submission with economic threats has led other Asian nations to regard China as a hegemon reverting to old ways.

China’s ‘frown diplomacy’ in SE Asia
As little as two years ago China watchers were describing Beijing’s “smile diplomacy” in Southeast Asia. Now that smile has been reversed into a frown. And in the eyes of more than a few Asian policymakers, with its change of tack on maritime issues China has come close to deleting the first letter in the “charm offensive” characterized in a 2007 book by that name.

Stuxnet in China
A computer worm that has been dubbed by some analysts the world’s first cyber super weapon has reportedly made its way to China. Stuxnet, which was first discovered in June this year and is reportedly the first worm known to have been used to target critical infrastructure, is said to have already infected millions of personal computers in China.

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Is Obama ready for a stare-down with China?
China’s provocation of Japan over the Senkaku Islands shows a need for Obama to be ready for a crisis in Asia. He must buck up Japan and send a clear signal to Bejing.

The Senkakus Confrontation
The Chinese persist in following atavistic political principles inconsistent with the status as an emerging power. It demands apologies and reparations for incidents that many observers judge were deliberately ordered by some Chinese authorities to provoke an incident with Japan. This is how North Korea behaves.

Japan poured oil on troubled waters
Emboldened by the US’s “return to Asia”, hawkish factions in Japan overreacted to the Chinese fishing boat incident off the Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands, hoping to draw Southeast Asian nations into a broader front over disputes in the South China Sea. While China’s heated response may push Vietnam and others further into the arms of the US, the powerful diplomatic and economic pressure Beijing was able to bring to bear will deter others from similarly testing the waters.

Alliance Formation and Asian Security
Assuming China continues to grow economically (which seems like a fairly safe bet), how will this trend affect strategic alignments in Asia? I’ve posted on this topic before (see here), but I’ve been thinking about it again in light of some recent developments and after reading some recent scholarship on the topic.

NATO Document Addresses Nuclear Disarmament
Two months before what could be the most important NATO summit meeting in more than a decade, the 28 member states of the alliance have received a draft of its new strategic concept, which for the first time, at the insistence of Germany and other countries, includes calls for nuclear disarmament.

The War over the War
Thirty years after the end of the war with Iraq the leadership of the Islamic Republic faces many of the same challenges that it faced during the war with Iraq, but this time, not even Ayatollah Rafsanjani may be capable of defending the regime against its own mismanagement.

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.

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