Monday, June 17, 2019

Climate Change and Security

I have decided to speak to this issue in the broadest possible sense.

Scientists (barring a tiny minority) are pretty certain that Anthropogenic Climate Change is happening. While many the carbon energy mafia intends to resist a shift away from using fossil fuels, we the people of Earth will eventually pay the price of this phenomenal stupidity.

Long before we drown in the rising waters from molten polar ice caps or burn up as global temperatures spike, a myriad variety of security threats will emerge.

A peculiar aspect of anthropogenic climate change is that it is not reversible on the scale we might think. It has taken us a hundred years to get here and even if we were to stop fossil fuel utilization today it would not mean that warming would stop [1]. Cutting fossil fuel use helps but not as much as one would think [2]. And the mere act of curtailing fossil fuel use is fraught with complications - there is no clarity on whether the debt created in the changeover is serviceable at all.

With that in the background, we need to accept that certain realities and restructure our national security frameworks to accommodate these realities.

The realities I refer to above are as follows

0) We may not be able to reduce emissions enough by 2030 to keep the global temperatures below 1.5C and the excursions from the mean temperature will likely grow in the foreseeable future.

1) Abrupt Climate Change may NOT be avoidable (this contrasts with the latest IPCC assessment that it is not presently considered a low likelihood event). This kind of event represents a catastrophic risk, no amount of resources set aside for mitigation will be enough. There is NO response modality that is sufficient. An Abrupt Climate Change situation will most likely be an extinction level event.

2) Climate Change driven dynamics will present itself in unpredictable ways. There is a relatively small fraction weather patterns where we have *some* predictive power.  Where possible we may be able to leverage this into a real world prediction of where to deploy mitigation resources - but in all probability - the prediction will be crap. We will be hit by extreme climate events in places we are least prepared to cope with.

In the face of these realities there will be certain social and political consequences.

a) There has always been a class divide in human society - this will unfortunately hold true for climate information as well. A social ordering will develop based on the foreknowledge of imminent climate events. The "Haves" will possess the knowledge and be better positioned to handle the consequences than the "Have Nots" who will essentially pay for their ignorance with their lives.

b) Among the "Haves" there will always be too factions - the first that seeks to preserve the exclusivity of their club and the second that seeks to spread the knowledge and expand the club.

c) The "Have Nots" will also have two factions - one which accepts the massive reduction in their life expectancy and the second which does not and fights to establish a more equitable distribution of knowledge.

(No prizes for guessing which faction I belong to).

Having put all that out there - we have what it takes to flesh out emergent national security threats or perhaps I should call them what they are "Global Security Threats". Post globalization, national security seems like a poor framework to capture events that clearly span the planet. I mean even those anti-Globalization Nationalism movements are acting in concert and building a global alliance ... so ... yeah.

A quick list of the major global security threats in order of priority

1) A millenarist cult that seeks to precipitate a Climate apocalypse and ensure that only its "chosen ones" survive.

2) A cabal of "Haves" that obsesses about loss of primacy in global affairs and triggers obscure conflicts in the hope of keeping the "Have Nots" preoccupied.

3) A disorganized "Have Not" led "Resistance" which seeks to coerce the "Haves" into sharing information.

4) A pervasive apathy by the first faction of the "Have Nots" which makes meaningful resolution of climate mitigation issues impossible.

I hope to discuss each of these four threats in some detail in upcoming posts.

Apologies in advance for the delays and typos, it is a lot of thinking and it is difficult to get it all down in a concise text.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Food insecurity and political stability

Political systems are often anchored to key economic flows.

For example, in the medieval period, feudals earned their keep by ensuring a steady flow of agricultural taxes. The extent of food commodities recovered from taxation effectively capped their ability to access strategic metals, fabrics and ceramics. Those caps in turn kept the size of the feudal's army in check and that led to obvious limits on the size of the fief etc... 

If there was a drought and the feudal did not possess enough reserve to keep the famine small (i.e. as situation where commodity prices are extremely unstable or worse still - farmers are too hungry to farm) - the feudal was kicked out of power. In this fashion the productivity of the land determined the half life of the local feudal order.

In our modern world - a variant of the same phenomena is at work.

I say "productivity of the land" but more correctly it should be the apparent or perceived productivity of the land.

This is because productivity is (at its core) a psychological construct. I have to believe/feel that the effort I am putting into the doing this activity is going to yield a large bounty in the future. This is a very big part of agro-economics as it takes time for the crops to grow, the herds to grow etc... there is no instant gratification.

There is a flip side to this.

If the land grows things I do not want/cannot eat - I feel it is not productive. If I fear I will not be able to eat my next meal per my choices - I become what the US agro-economists called "Food Insecure".

At one extreme "Food Insecurity" relates to the physical availability of food - but in another extreme it relates to the perception of the loss of a part of my preferred diet *and* any ensuing loss of status.

A very good example of this is the attitude of midwestern White Men towards beef. Having grown up in a culture of farming (which Sarah Taber refers to a "Farming Cosplay") - Beef is seen as the ultimate symbol of the productivity of the land. To be able to afford beef on the table is a big deal, it is correlated the status in society, to wealth, the number of women you can put in your bed at any given time etc... (Hence Trump Steaks was a status symbol - never meant to be successful as a product but meant to show that Trump was a guy who could afford big steaks!).

I am not saying that the thickness of the steak you eat is thickness of you penis but ... yeah it is just like the thickness of your penis. This why mere talk of vegan ideas bring forth a very derisive response from this demographic. Losing access to beef - is losing status in society.

This is not unique to the US, on a global scale it is observed that richer nations eat more meat. Meat eating correlates with wealth.

Now think about India.

India does not have enough land to allows free grazing like the US or Australia. Here meat is a luxury - even more tied to status. Populations that live along the peninsula - have a diet that emphasizes eggs and seafood. This is also India's most productive belt economically - having benefited from participation in the sea borne trade. The result is a deep sense of economic security, tradition and culture surrounding eating meat.

Now you take a population like that - and you impose vegetarianism on them. Either by indirectly taxing the trade in meat (eg "Cow Slaughter") or by directly imposing dietary bounds on any free meals you supply (such as the approach of the Akshaya Patra Foundation*). What would be the result of this?

The consequence will be a deep sense of food insecurity. This is because food insecurity is a metric that captures the psychological factors associated with the fear of the loss of a food source.

And how will that be different from a situation in Medieval India where a drought has wiped out the land?

Okay there is still food on the plate, but when your culture, ethnic identification etc... are deeply tied to your diet - will not food insecurity bleed over into political insecurity?

And what if the people of these states already fear loss of political representation due to demographic shifts? or the linguistic hegemony?

And what will be the outcome for a political formulation which is already so inefficient? where the Rs/Vote is at least 10x higher than it's peer competitor?

Will there be political stability?

Sure the Left rules WB with a similar structure in place for decades, but is that sustainable at scale? or will one see the kind of dynamics one saw in Soviet Union? Where brutal subterranean battles raged while the General Secretary ruled largely at the pleasure of a highly militarized Siloviki?

They say Amit Shah will become PM. I welcome it - I like him more than I like Modi or Yogi or other incompetents.

Also please forget about Art 370 removal. It is more important to focus on crafting a new Art 370 framework for southern states, otherwise when the redistribution of LS seats occurs the Peninsular states will simply secede from the Republic.

* Being a Brahmin myself I am extremely reluctant to criticize Akshaya Patra Foundation as it is one of the *few* Brahmin organizations that are actually doing socially productive work, but I feel compelled to say something because of the possibility that its efforts may be perceived as negative and the ensuing social opprobrium will derail a vital effort.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Shift in national security priorities

After reviewing data emerging *after* the recent election in India - I am reasonably convinced that a shift in national security priorities is necessary.

Heretofore - national security priorities in India centered on the notion that India was an agrarian economy that needed to transition to an industrial economy that self sufficient in critical resources. This transition needed the development of high-intensity energy resources - i.e. the kind that could power the machines used in new industrial economy. In order to build enough of those energy resources, one needed to build a capital reserve and ensure access to fossil and nuclear fuel supplies that could keep the energy conversion machines running. To that end whatever was needed was to be done. (if that meant turning the youth of an entire state into slaves in a foreign land that accepted payment in rupees for oil - then so be it. If that meant getting in bed with a dictator who wanted rotting rice in exchange for oil - then so be it.... Gandhiji needed enough oil for one kerosene lamp... lighting a billion lamps would require making realistic compromises - or so it was said).

A critical aspect of that older way of thinking was that the energy resources needed for India's transformation were physically quite large. This "large" estimate captured the inefficient nature of resource utilization. A greater portion of the inefficiency was the lack of actionable information. If there was a better way to do things, the people in charge of making the executive decisions were not as informed as they could have been and so bad decisions were made routinely. Additionally a lot of the machines were old - and quite inefficient also.

Over the past three decades in India, there has been significant growth of personal communication and computation devices. This has significantly reduced barriers to information transport inefficiency. This lowering of information flow barriers represents a major advance in managing the shortage in transformative energy resources in India.

The best case scenario would be a secure sharing of mission critical data that results in a gradual increase in energy utilization efficiency and a gradual reduction in the amount of energy resources needed by India to reach a sustainable industrial economic position.

Despite any guidance on best practices, everything is shaped by individuals that make decisions, so in that sense - one has to think of this issue in the widest possible way.

With that in the background, the immediate priority for national security activities becomes clear - the preservation of a secure national mission critical data space.

Data is almost continuously being created, harvested and trafficked over the electronic networks that now span the length and breadth of India. In order to maintain a high level of integrity and reliability in the data streams - one needs multiple layers of security. Essentially - one needs security of the hardware side, software side and use case side.

So far there is little to be comfortable about.

Simplistic approaches like the ECIL EVM though quite effective at scaling in volume are not scalable in time. In fact they appear to be highly insecure* in the light of what is known now. Hardware side security challenges are getting much more complex and difficult to manage (see the case of the Chinese hardware hack). With 5G on the horizon, the entire picture is making most heads spin.

Then beyond that there is issue of the security of the software layers - both at the user accessible front end and at the much deeper layers in the network itself (even down to layers of embedded software that perform a variety of algorithmic data filtering). There is a good bit of knowledge in India on embedded software design on various platforms and the ensuing peculiarities of each platform - unless some sort of position of leverage is reached - it will be very difficult to ensure that mission critical software is not completely filled with backdoors and penetrations by hostile actors (see example of Aadhar fiasco).

And there is the issue of user security culture in India - which as most of you know is a baffling wilderness of encryption, authentication and security consciousness problems. There is no way to easily inoculate the population of India to the dangers here. A disaster will occur, the only hope is to have some bitter medicine handy during the recovery period - that way at least - the lesson is memorable.

One needs to think afresh in the light of current events and what they are really saying.

* A device that breeds a false sense of security is the worst form of device in the world.

PS. If you don't like thinking at this high a level, then perhaps you could think of it in terms of the upcoming discussion with the Chinese on 5G infrastructure deployment in India. and try to answer the following question - what will India hold as leverage over China to preserve its IC's dominance over the large mass of data that these new devices will inevitably harvest?

PPS. And to those of you who love Modi, I ask this - sure today the EC will say nothing is wrong with the "Machine"....(even though everyone can clearly see it is not) but then tomorrow when something else goes wrong the Chinese impose their own will on things - will the EC have the credibility to object? And if it does object, will that not throw into question everything it said before? So will it have an incentive to say anything besides "No No ... everything is fine..."?

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Mnuchin, Barr fall on the sword to save Trump

As I had indicated earlier, the only way Donald Trump could evade accountability for his actions was to shutdown Congress and its powers of oversight. As there was no constitutional framework to do this, he would have to do this in illegal ways - essentially conduct a coup.

I had sensed that Barr and Mnuchin would be first to defy Congress. Both men had given off really defiant vibes in their testimony before congressional committees, but there was still some doubt in many quarters whether they would relent and submit to the power Congress. That doubt stands resolved.

It is clear the Barr lied to Congress and does not want to be held accountable for it. He was hired with the sole aim of protecting Trump and he is doing the job he was paid to do. Barr is totally reliant on Trump to protect him and Trump is reliant on Barr.

Mnuchin for his part knows that Trump cannot protect him, he relies on Barr to keep the handcuffs at bay.

So one can think of this as a game of chess, where Mnuchin - a lower power is reliant on Barr - a higher power to protect him, but Barr and Trump are covering each other.

To get to Trump, one has to go through Mnuchin and Barr - but as seen in the above sequence - Barr is a critical piece. Without Barr to protect Mnuchin, the exposure at the Treasury end rises abruptly. Mnuchin like so many people in this government may have money to fight of minor legal challenges, but if Barr can't cover him, his legal expenses explode - and he is smart enough (like Gary Cohn) to know when to bail out.

I think Speaker Pelosi is correct that going after Trump will enable him to sell his "persecution card" to his followers and get them to turn out in record numbers to vote for him again in 2020. While this may not bring him back to power, the gerrymandering will allow the GOP to ride to power in 2020 in both the Senate and Congress. Quite naturally the objective of the Democratic party is to end the power that gerrymandering brings to the GOP's political causes. As legal challenges to the gerrymandering system are out of the question given Trump's adjustments to the Supreme Court and lower courts - the only way to prevent the GOP from coming back to power is to undermine their appeal to "the base".

While the numbers of "the base" may be small, but their sense of embarrassment (at having elected Trump in the first place) is quite great. As with most human beings, Trump supporters do not want to take responsibility for Trump, and are looking for ways of dumping this shit at someone else's door. Quite naturally they will buy into any narrative that spares them further humiliation and they will be more than happy to vote against a Democratic candidate.

So in sum - Democratic Party political priorities remain to contain Trump's "persecution card" while continually exposing his crimes and effectively holding him accountable. As every charge of incompetence injures his ego, he will continue to make more and more mistakes and eventually turn on his base. Right now - he is struggling to pull in enough revenue to keep his legal costs tended, this will rise as his exposure to own stupidity increases.

What can I say...

"The fear of impeachment is much more deadly than impeachment itself."

- Maverick's First Law of American Politics.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The real "Coup" that has just occurred this week.

Trump is banging on about a "coup" and an "illegal" investigation that took place into his campaign. That is obviously nonsense aimed at distracting from the very real coup that he is mounting as we speak.

At the big picture level, Trump wants to stay out of jail for all the illegal things he has done. He can't have the Mueller report be scrutinized by Congress and he must shut down Congressional oversight functions. As those oversight powers are welded into the Constitution, Trump would have to revise the US Constitution to stop Congressional oversight. However as only Congress can re-write the Constitution, Trump can't get his way. So the only alternative is to ignore the Constitution and attempt to bypass Congressional power. When a someone does things like that - it is called a  "Coup" and the form of government that emerges from that is called a "Dictatorship".

This week - Trump went "full Palpatine". As the Senate is in his pocket - thanks to Mitch McConnell's failure to defend the Constitution, Trump went ahead and dismissed the last remaining members of the Congresionally approved leadership of the armed services. He now has "Acting" leaders in these positions and these people are beholden to Trump for their continued service. This already fractures Congressional oversight and injures the constitution.

Congress still has the power to withhold budget allocations and order the DOJ to act against people that break the laws laid down by Congress - but as the testimony two days ago of Barr and Mnuchin indicates - neither is interested in what Congress asks them to do. Mnuchin is actively obstructing Congress attempts to get Trump's taxes and Barr has indicated he intends to give the President an exception from common sense notions of legal accountability.

So the the way the Trump coup works is like this -

1) Acting leaders in various armed services departments are asked to do illegal things and when those are exposed - Congress attempts to withhold funding until greater transparency of Trump's exposure is obtained.

2) Mnuchin offers the department under scrutiny emergency funding and stonewalls or ignores all Congressional demands for staying within its directives.

3) Seeing Mnuchin's illegal actions, Congress order Barr to go after Mnuchin and Barr ignores or stonewalls Congress.

In this way Trump gets his dictatorship and Congress is shut out completely from the process of governance. The Senate passes whatever resolutions Trump wants and along with Mnuchin rubber stamps all the money he wants funneled into his personal accounts. Any government department that attempts to obstruct this illegal activity is promptly punished by Mnuchin who shuts down its funding.

At this point - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is effectively suspended and whatever amendments that you like - they are suspended also.

Specifically - with the DHS in his thrall, Trump is able to restore the old system of voter fraud that dominated US elections for decades - i.e. back when the Sheriffs would just stuff the ballot boxes. Using the DHS' counter terrorism initiatives he is able to coerce Sheriffs departments across the US into doing his will. With GOP appointed Judges embedded in various parts of the Judiciary (thanks to Mitch's "fast track" for Judicial appointments) - there is no way to legally appeal this kind of action.

I am sure by now  - you have seen the fatal flaw in Trump's plan.

Trump's entire power structure relies on projecting his base as being a set of deathly loyal followers who are prepared to wage "Civil War" if he doesn't get his way.  Given how so many Trump supporters hoard guns and munitions and openly endorse violent behavior towards political enemies, it is unsurprising that Trump's claim of knowing some "hard people" is credible and serves as a deterrent to openly going after him.

But by cutting off access to peaceful means of enforcing the laws as they stand. Trump invites the same Civil War like conditions that he hopes to hold as a barrier against his arrest.

Most minorities are used to operating under the permanent threat of being killed by Trump supporters like Sayoc, Fields and Taggart. Such minorities are used to operating under the perpetual threat of having a pair of cross-hairs on their back.

Trump supporters like Sayoc etc... are unprepared to bear such risks.

Unfortunately for the United States - I have seen this in other lands.

For example in Punjab (Iraq)[Syria] the Sikh (Sunni) [Alawaite] male patriarchy felt threatened by the rising levels of empowerment among socially subaltern groups of people, and in the vain hope of retaining their power - they initiated what they thought would the Khalistan (Iraqi)[Syrian] Civil War they would easily win. Unfortunately died in the blaze they started.

We will witness a similar trajectory in the US.

Why would sensible people want to support this kind of madness. Here is a clue. [Hint ... it doesn't work like this].

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

GOP - JEB, is your Savior!

As you all may have noticed, Trump is increasingly isolated and angry. He can't seem to go very long without rage tweeting or golfing. Those are his principle stress management tools and the whole thing is falling apart under him. He is literally going to piece. Even he knows his "No Collusion, Exonerated" thing is bullshit - as do all his "base" - that's why they are latching on to the Smollet story like it means something.

The GOP is in a pickle. Rather than accept a moderate like JEB as its candidate, it chose to engage with extremist views and put Trump in the WH. I am sure it was lucrative for the GOPers as they all got paid in Russian money but fundamentally the bride was not worth the price. Doing all this carries huge legal penalties and there is no way to escape those costs. In the end the costs outweigh the benefits.

So unsurprisingly - as some of you may have noticed - Trump is increasingly surrounded by former Bush era officials who seem to be helping him stay afloat for now. While this is obviously strategic - given Trump's isolation - anyone who agrees to work with him risks immense censure and possible criminal exposure, the Bush era officials are effectively increasing the leverage and therefore restoring place of the family in national narrative.

It is difficult to keep track of narratives in this strange time.

So may I humbly suggest a simple narrative?

The Bush family served this nation with integrity and honesty. Even when facing its own immense struggles with substance abuse and health - it did whatever it could to meet the needs of the country.

And what did the entitled GOP OWM crowd do?

Spit in their face?

Humiliate them based on the words of people like Chip Tatum or Roseanne Barr?

Oh wait - I forgot - the Bush family were supposed to be reptilians from Zeta Reticuli - and they had signed the treaty with the Aliens in 1954... right?

And where has pandering to that led you - OWM of the GOP?

How does it feel to be used as an asswipe by Trump? Sen McConnell anything you want to share about that sensation?

The more you guys support this Trump madness - the more you will suffer.

Supporting Trump has already made you even more reviled and hated than any member of the Bush family ever was.

Keep supporting Trump and things will only get worse. He already fantasizes about jailing HRC, Mueller, Comey and Obama. Give him more support and he will act on those fantasies - and then the enraged Democrats will respond in kind.

To avoid this - the kind and benevolent ones have provided a fig leaf.

Take it.

Urge Trump to leave the White House in exchange for a effective end to the treason probes. This will allow him to save face and allow his kids to keep their allowances.

Once Pence has taken office, appoint JEB to the VP slot.

You problems will recede after. It would NOT be a permanent solution to your elect-ability issues (you have brought those on yourself and not even God can fix those problems) - but you will be able to retire in peace.

Collusion is not a crime - and it can't be proved

A lot is being projected on to the Barr summary. And quite rightly everyone still sane is skeptical of it.

But assume for a moment that what Barr is saying (i.e. "no collusion proved") - is true.

Then we must face the following facts.

1) Collusion can't really be proved - As it is usually just a tacit agreement. Most people who commit collusion are not dumb enough to leave a piece of paper lying around that says "Oh you scratch my back and I will scratch yours". 

2) Collusion is not really criminal - Saying "Ok President Putin, I will stand for election, and appoint your guys to my campaign staff" isn't really criminal. (Actually accepting the appointment and then doing things secretly to aid Putin's agenda - however - is actually criminal!)

3)  The elements of "Collusion" are criminal - You don't need to prove "Collusion" exists to identify criminal conduct. The elements of collusion in this matter involve treason. If the elements of treason (such as hidden financial transactions, coordination between public statements, private promises of valuable exchanges, etc...) are verified, then whether or not Trump or his guys knowingly colluded with Putin is irrelevant. Criminal charges can be framed around the elements of treason.

I guess what I am saying is that Trump trotted out the term "Collusion" as a deflection from the greater issue of *Treason*. The Democrats engaged the issue because the appearance of collusion was so obvious that it was impossible to look the other way. Trump was practically handing them a leg to kick his rear with. 

Why Trump did this is mysterious to me. Perhaps he thought he would be able to flip the narrative on the Democrats (as he did with the "Lock Her Up!" chants) - and in doing so - avoid directed scrutiny of the treason issue. 

Whatever his intention (and I don't think Trump thinks nearly as hard about these things as he should) - the Democratic Party successfully used Trump's own "No Collusion" canard against him. If you doubt their success - just ask all the GOPers who lost their seats in the House despite all the voter fraud and gerrymandering they did. 

Now we can expect that Democrats will pivot to the core issue of treason and the fig leaf offered to Trump by Barr's letter will be blown away. 

As this is blown away - one can expect Trump to be quite agitated, but the biggest losers here will be the GOP - as they will have to defend his desire to bury the Mueller report and suffer the electoral consequences. 

This lays ground for the next post. 

"GOP! JEB, Your Savior!"

Monday, February 25, 2019

Audience Costs in the Indo-Pak context

As both the BJP and the Pakistan Army are very keen to project an image of being super tough and hard line on security issues - we are now enmeshed in yet another high visibility drama where both these groups try to establish their dominance in their respective spaces.

For the Pakistan Army - the story is pretty clear. In the days of old when India only had fission weapons and rudimentary delivery systems, there was no cause for excessive fear. Pits were separate from packages and there was a two to three day lag before a sudden strike could materialize. As long as the Pakistan Army demonstrated a faster mating ritual (i.e pits to packages and packages to warheads) there was a meaningful sense of deterrence. But after 1998 it has changed. India's demonstration of FBF designs meant that if India decided to weaponize those designs, there could be no way to de-mate the pit from the package. The DAE was careful in 1998 to repeatedly signal that the Shakti-I device was simply a capability demonstration and not a fully weaponized configuration, but a lot of water has flown down the Indus since then. Today with Modiji announcing a "deterrent patrol" of the Arihant to the world, the Pakistan Army is left wondering what if any meaningful deterrence exists - for on a nuclear submarine where the entire platform is canisterized - there is no question of keeping the pit separate from the package even if it is a simple fission weapon. Then there is the deeper issue of India's growing capabilities in INS & Remote Sensing. That stuff has resulted in improvements in OAR for India's platforms. Can a small, technologically underdeveloped nation with serious problems of religious extremism be expected to lift such a heavy load? It stretches the imagination. So clearly the idea of a viable deterrence becomes shaky in its own right. (This is without getting into arrant nonsense about staged TN devices popular among India's Gigaboomer crowd). It will be hard to keep pretending that the Pakistan Army is still the big dog if they can't be seen to be holding back India.

For Modi again - it is clear - his whole rise to power was based on his Hindu Hitman image. He was the guy that everyone believed would kill all the Muslims and restore the purity of the Indian lands. Now granted that didn't quite turn out like that yet, but at least Hindu RW mobs can slaughter Muslims in the name of cow-protection and as long as the IT Cell keeps boosting violent behavior, it should all fly with "public" opinionv(i.e. upper caste) which is at best apathetic to the plight of the poor. But with all the money he took from his billionaire friends (and repaid thru demonetization and NPAs) - he was just barely able to win. Sure the numbers look big in the Lok Sabha but down at the constituency level, it tells a very different story and after the failed demonetization, a strong sense of anti-incumbency set in. Also Modi was never popular in Nagpur, they always like Gadkari more. Now if Modi cannot secure the same number of seats in 2019, he will have to step down and Nagpur will use Gadkari's strength to build a working alliance. This doesn't work for Modi - and even if he wants to resign and go to the Himalayas like he did when he was 10, Amit Shah and the "donors" don't want this. Not everyone wants the citizenship of Antigua. So without a major reinforcement of the Hindu Hitman image for Modi, it will be difficult to guarantee Prime Ministership.

So with this latest crisis over Lethpora, both groups - Pakistan Army and Modi face significant audience costs. Normally one could stage a little drama like Uri where Modi looks like he is a tough guy to his base and the Pakistan Army can act like it defended Pakistan from a big Indian threat. And then Doval's son and his Pakistani partner can keep doing business as usual. Even the ISI would play along with that.

But there is a problem, since the cost horizon is so close for Modi (he can't win elections without this), the ISI will be disinclined to be cooperative. And then there is that media situation where misinformation propagates very rapidly.

From an outsider perspective - one sees a runaway process where Modi keeps upping the ante hoping for electoral returns, and the ISI which can't tell the difference between a theatrical performance and the real thing reciprocates in hostile fashion.

The situation escalates and with each step the audience costs rise for both sides.