Sunday, October 21, 2007

India US Nuclear Deal: A Provocation Strategy

The NPA have consistently opposed the India-US nuclear deal.

Most of this opposition comes from the fact that India sees through the NPA. We don't buy their BS about being serious about non-proliferation agendas. We do not buy into their rubbish about the NPT, we do not think very much about their CTBT. Whenever possible we routinely mock them and their lack of intellectual rigor.

India's perception of the NPA does not extend to "Americans" in general and its relationship with the rest of America is driven a completely different set of interactions which are mostly positive and despite innumerable occasions for misunderstandings, India's relationship with the US is bereft of overt hostility.

In such an atmosphere, bereft of overt hostility, the NPA have it rough. They can't force their fellow countrymen to share their distaste of India. Most Americans are indifferent to India, or have a vaguely positive opinion of it. This makes the NPA feel ... threatened.

As the discussions of the India-US nuclear deal gained ground - the NPA threat radars began to sing loudly. Without an India to berate and rail against publicly, NPA sermons seemed to lose their sense of purpose. Without powerful sermons, who would take the NPA seriously? NPA fears crystalised when the Bush Administration began reorganising the State Department Non-Proliferation Bureau and the NPA fought back.

However the NPA with their deep knowledge of "Nuclear Missiles" and "Megaton Warheads", seemed to be increasingly out of place to deal with current proliferation scenarios. India's enthusiastic participation in the PSI and other counter-proliferation initiatives seemed to have won India many new friends in Washington D.C. Under these circumstances, the NPA did the best they could. They tried to get everyone to see that the PSLV could become an ICBM and the GLSV could be used to do something really dangerous ... no one bought it. The idea was so absurd, that even the people in Congress who are very easily swayed by NPA sermons, found the idea hard to swallow.

Having failed in the US to generate the basis for an overt hostility with India, I feel the NPA may have turned to their friends in the Indian Left front.

The Left Front as a whole suffers from a reflexive sense of hostility towards all things American. However a small segment of people inside the Left Front had pragmatically built bridges to the US, after the USSR fell. These people embedded themselves into the NPA led initiatives after 1998 to make the Indian nuclear tests look bad.

The rest of the Left Front had a vested interest in this, the nuclear tests of 1998 gave the BJP a kind of political insurance policy. No one would turn to them and say... that they were ineffective on the national stage. The Left by contrast felt more than little useless as the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the early 90s had led to the public erosion of the Left's cherished ideals. As time progressed the money poured into the Left via NPA enhanced American sources grew in size and the Left invested in an outreach programme where it made inroads into sections of Indian society still recieve the trickle down benifits from the growth in Indian economy. The Left also made strong efforts to court Muslims and other groups that felt alienated by the BJP government. In this way the Left was able to leverage its monetary earnings through US sources into a political poise in the Indian Parliament, despite the fact not a single industry or business inside India was keen to see the Left remain in any form of fray.

Ultimately when the Indo US nuclear deal emerged in the public. The Left was in a quandary. If the US emerged as the sole source of Uranium supplies to India, this would leave the Left Front strongholds in West Bengal and Kerala vulernable to pressures from US Uranium suppliers. Also the rise in trade with the US would mean that the Left Front's political stock inside India - based as it was on anti-capitalist rhetoric and slum lording in areas where they had themselves induced developmental stagnation - would drop like a rock. The Left would be seen as an archaic entity, an anachronism and the economies of places like West Bengal would be left in the dust. The Left also surmised that the deal would most likely involve some form of cooperation against China and Iran and probably involve some additional guarentees that would assuage American concerns about India's nuclear weapons. All these thing would make the Left irrelevant as a political force in India. The Left as a whole had thus a very serious sense of hostility towards the India-US nuclear deal.

The small segment of the Left Front that engaged the NPA in 1998 suddenly emerged as a communication channel of renewed importance.

The NPA for their part were keen on provoking what they felt was a manageable sense of hostility between India and the US. From that perspective, it seems irrelevant where the hostility originated - so long as it was manageable. The Left Front as a whole in India, seemed to fit that bill well ... that is if one assumes that the small group of collaborators between the NPA and the Left Front can function as a reliable communication mechanism.

In a simple scenario from the NPA perspective, the Left Front will simply make hollow, anti-US statements on the Indian political stage and add delays to the deal. The delays will spark the legendary American impatience and a sense of hostility will develop between India and the US. In their anger, US corporations keen to open business opportunities in India will pay the NPA to spout anti-India garbage that soothes their ears.

For contrast, another extreme scenario is where the Left Front realises that it is being lured into a trap by its NPA allies, and goes off script. The small group of collaborators between the NPA and the Left Front becomes ineffective. In the event that the Left Front as a whole proves to be difficult to control, the situation will quickly spiral into overt hostilities between India and the US, ex. denial of bases, India supports Iran etc...

As the NPA surely know, the Left Front's commitment to nuclear non-proliferation is about as serious as the NPA's commitment to disarmament. In the event that the Left is provoked on the nuclear front, they will respond in an overtly aggressive fashion, perhaps test a few missiles or pull some other vintage DPRK style stuff! This kind of behaviour will encourage a deeper atmosphere of hostility between the US and India. An atmosphere of hostility where free trade between India and the US is frustrated, and the language of missiles and megatons suddenly becomes en vogue.

Either ways a win-win situation for the NPA.

Or so it seems...

Unfortunately, such a calculation is flawed because of the precarious situation of the dollar and the rising cost of oil. The underlying motivation behind the India-US nuclear deal at the US end was *not* some imaginary gain in non-proliferation - it was instead to create a stable investment environment for US capital groups in India, so that the cost of America's transition from oil to nuclear power could be defrayed through investments in a highly productive economy. By operationalising this kind of provocation strategy with regards to India at this time, the door to such investments has closed. The NPA have frustrated their nation's transition away from oil. This may be something they can take their friends with deep pockets in the American carbon mafia as a sign of the success of funding the NPA, however it now increases the need in American foreign policy to stabilise the global carbon fuels market. This only increases the pressures on the dollar.

One must carefully weigh the costs and benifits of such a situation.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Nuclear Deterrence:"Calling the Bluff"

Whenever people talk about deterrence, they come away with the idea that this is a game of bluff. This is easy for people to grasp, because most children play a card game with a similar name and the key to winning the game involves calling the other player's bluff.. and some people think somehow the two things - the game of cards and the game of nuclear deterrence are related.

They are not.

In the game of nuclear deterrence, people cannot call your "bluff". Once you have overtly demostrated nuclear capability of any kind - even a test of a small nuclear bomb - no nation on earth can call your bluff.

Once this threshold is crossed, any additional testing only serves to nuance the language of your choice of deterrence regime. For example, You demonstrate a warhead with a higher yeild. This proves to a percieved adversary that you can make a bigger bang. If you deterrence regime involves scaring your enemy with that kind of ability, then there is a chance your tests will give you more linguistic flexibility in your deterrence regime.

So what is the gain in demonstrating you ability to make a bigger bang?

This question needs to be answered before one attempts such an enterprise.

In 1974, India conducted a nuclear test which demonstrated the ability to build and detonate a simple fission device. The yeild was 8-15 kT per the government's estimates. This was a first test - an announcement of India's nuclear status.

In 1998, India conducted 5 more tests which demonstrated the ability to build more complicated devices and achieve a yeild of 5-50 kT.

A very logical line of questioning which emerged from various sections of the Indian polity - was - Is it necessary to demonstrate a higher yeild. A number of people that thought that there was no need to demonstrate a higher yeild, opposed the tests and questioned the yeilds calculated by the Department of Atomic Energy.

Though the data available to the Department supported the conclusion that the device had achieved a higher yeild, the debate over the yeild being of a more political nature - dissociated itself from the experimental evidence obtained from close in measurements at the test site.

A valid criticism of the "bigger is better" argument with respect to yeild in India, was that it would encourage Pakistan to more aggressively pursue options that would enhance the ability of its Army to survive a nuclear strike. The aggressive pursuit of these options in Pakistan would force India to pursue similar options and this would lead to a local arms race which would increase the burden on India's poor.

This criticism is partially valid, post 1998 both India and Pakistan have aggressively pursued military modernisation and while the Pakistanis are still behind India when it comes to survivability of conventional assets in a nuclear environement, both nations have spent quite a bit of money on this capability. However the burden to India's poor has been mitigated by a growth in the economy and despite suffering staggering natural disaster and a near war with Pakistan, India has not suffered anything like the crippling shortages and famines that are routinely seen in places like North Korea. It appears that whatever resouce reallocation has occured inside India to facilitate this enhancement of conventional military potential, it does not appear to have significantly disrupted the economy. The same cannot be said of Pakistan.

So on a more general note, if the economic costs of an enhanced yeild can be kept contained, there can be no disruptive influences to the rest of the economy.

Alternatively understanding that "bigger is better" does not necessarily work is important, and frankly ... very very honestly... only "better" is "better".

If India is expected to cap the size of fissile material for military purposes, then it is natural to expect India to pursue all options to achieve the highest impact with the reserves it has available. This implies investigation of *all* possible avenues of optimisation including higher yeilds and more advanced designs.

Going forward from here, the Left will dominate the discussion on all these issues and it is important to understand all the details of the Left's position on these issues.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The India US nuclear deal - Dead.


Many of you have been asking me to comment on the state of the Indo US nuclear deal.

I am afraid it is dead.

Some of you may recall that in 1998 the NPA in America and the Left Front in India had joined hands to oppose the Vajpayee government's decision to test nuclear weapons at Pokhran. The NPA and the Left were unanimous in describing the test as a "Hindu" bomb, developed by India's "macho" scientists and "rambos" in the research community. Both the NPA and the Left openly insulted the capabilities of India's scientists and both questioned the competence of India's technologists in the field of nuclear reactor technology.

During this period the marriage between the NPA and the Left Front blossomed. Leading Leftist luminaries were invited to lecture at US universities, and other US fora about the what a "Hindu Nationalist BJP" was doing to harm the world and how "Hindu Nazis" were bent on committing a "Muslim Genocide". Upon encouragement from people in various organs of the US government, these left wing writers spat out standard agitprop material against the BJP. Thanks to the media support provided by an American media that can't resist printing tripe about India, the books these people wrote went on sell and made them millions. In this and other ways the US fed millions of dollars into the Left Front and artificially bolstered its election prospects. The Congress (I) could not secure a majority and was forced to make a deal with the Left and form the government with their support. After the Left became part of the government, their demands on any major expenditure became severe. Every single major contract issued by the GoI had to be padded in ways that suited the Left more than it suited the UPA. Rumour mills in Delhi suggest that the Left Front now sits on a large pot of "political capital" which it can use to swing an additional 30 seats in the Lok Sabha if it chooses to.

When the India-US nuclear deal became public in 2005, the NPA mounted a vociferous campaign in the US to stall its progress in the US Congress. And miraculously, the Left Front which had opposed the nuclear tests, expressed its desire to stop the deal because it may be interpreted as India giving up the right to test nuclear weapons. Doubtlessly the NPA are rejoicing at what was an apparently effortless victory. Some would even go further to say, the NPA engagement with the Left has paid off big-time.

They may be right in more ways than they care to realise.

The Left now rules India.

Soon they will ask for India to sign an India-China Nuclear Deal. There are many things that a India-China nuclear deal could be based on, for example - a Uranium for Thorium exchange, possibly auxilliary deals where Chinese companies would build PWRs in India and Indian companies would build FBR/AHWRs in China. China as a member of the NSG has consistently demonstrated its ability to circumnavigate NPA bullshit emanating from the US. India doesn't care as long as it has enough Uranium to fuel its reactors.

Given the precarious situation of the US Dollar and the fact that every 5 year old in America is at this very moment putting a Chinese manufactured toy in his/her mouth or sleeping in a crib made in Guizhou or perhaps drooling on a pair of pyjamas which were made in Shanghai.... one realises that the US will be able to do absolutely nothing to stop an India-China deal. I mean they could put some sanctions on India or China or etc... but frankly they will be completely ineffective.

Ofcourse once the India-China deal is inked, and the first shipment of Australian mined Chinese packed Uranium lands up in India, the Americans will have to deal with the unfortunate circumstance where it will be cheaper to use a dollar bill in place of a sheet of imported toiletpaper.

I suppose the Americans could always immediately invade Iran to look good before the American media but then that would only leave them with the joy of occupying two countries that share a "long porous border" with Pakistan. They could just invade Pakistan, but then they have to deal with the joy of stabilising a country with 150 Million poor and hungry zealots.

If any NPA actively encouraged the Indian Left to block the deal, I wish to congratulate them on having successfully knocked the America off the high table of Asia - it seems that is what the NPA wanted all along. Perhaps they were planning on sacrificing America's seat at the high-table of Asia to gain "moral" brownie points with space aliens? I don't know, NPA thinking has always been a puzzle for me.

If the NPA did not actively encourage the Indian Left to block the deal, I wish to ask them to reflect upon my earlier suggestions that the NPA should simply shut up instead of filling the air with suspicious utterances. The NPA disregarded my warnings about misusing channels of communication between India and the US for pushing personal agendas. The atmosphere of anxiety in India over the Indo-US nuclear deal which the Left successfully used to its political advantage is a direct byproduct of the NPA war dances before the Indian media.

I now sit back and watch as the NPA run around trying to convince their American audience that India alone is to blame for this disaster.

I would love to point out in detail how the NPA are lying, but I am too busy learning Chinese. I am also digging around for my copy of Mao's Red Book and hopefully when I see the Chinese Ambassador at the party in Chanakyapuri, he will appreciate that my bandgala-pantaloon combination is at the very least a poor imitation of Chairman Mao's suit.

All hail the United Peoples Republic of Ch-in-dia!!
Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live Chairman Karat!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kayani: Musharraf's "successor".

Wilson John at ORF has a biography of Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani . It makes for interesting reading.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Operation Rakshak: We Look Forward To Better Days

Shekhar Gupta does something no Indian reporter seems to have time to do these days, an actual interview with Gen. (r) J. J. Singh.

The title of my post "We look forward to better days" is a direct quote from Gen. J. J. Singh in response to Shekhar's questions about the situation in Kashmir.

This relatively simple statement succinctly states everything I have been trying to get across in my comments in Kashmir.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pakistan: ORF General Officer list.

Here is the latest list of Pakistan Army Generals from ORF.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lal Masjid: Musharraf's Political Response

The disasterous seige of Lal Masjid created an explosive rift between the Army and the Mullahs. Specifically it broke an unwritten contract between the Deobandi religious elite and the Army and publicly humiliated the Mullahs. What made matters unimaginably worse was the murder of hundreds of children in the seige. This caused the Mullahs' grasp on their jazbati followers to weaken and violence in the NWFP spiralled towards a total free for all. At the present time the Pakistan Army as a whole is at war with the tribals in NWFP and chunks of the Pakistan Army are falling off - armymen are either being murdered like cattle or units are defecting to the tribals' side. The spread of violence in NWFP is causing the rift to widen immeasurably.

Musharraf's political maneuvering is aimed at containing this rift.

The first step in this process of containment was to acknowledge that Musharraf no longer had the right to rule the Pakistan. Given the praetorian nature of society, the only way to do this was to create an artificial barrier between Musharraf and the Armed forces. This is where the drama over "shedding his uniform" comes in. The most important thing in this is to ensure that despite what everyone can see with their eyes, Musharraf never make it seem that he has lost. The likely impact of that kind of a surrender would be severe fissures within the Army structure itself. Whatever happens the "unity of command" concept has to hold in the Army otherwise no one will be able to control anything. Another vital point is to make sure pliable persons sit on posts in the Army that Musharraf has hand-picked and that any replacement for Musharraf does not undermine him personally. To this end "a quiet man" or a "loyalist" or a "go-to guy" is being given a leg up.

The second step is to create a barrier - composed mainly of "secular" feudals like Benazir and Nawaz etc... between the Mullahs and their march to power in the National Assembly and Senate. The key factor here is to bring the feudals back with enough money that they can seize control of a substantial fraction of the electoral resources - i.e. pay off enough nazims to get the electoral outcomes of their choice. A fact that some may forget is that as long as Musharraf decides who becomes a nazim, he can influence which feudal gets what in the political arena. Feudals probably believe their "friends" in the western media will able to drum up adequate international support for their claims to Pakistani leadership. To this end the "Chief Justice Chaudhary" drama is being enacted. In my opinion, these feudals are being led like lambs to the slaughter, and understandably so, as neither the Army nor the Islamists, with their belief in "meritocracy" care much for the feudals. Also as the days when the feudals dominated the economy of Pakistan are gone, the "friendship" of western media houses is hardly something that should be seen as permanent.

The third step - perhaps the final step - is to create an incentive package for NWFP, i.e. an effective system of bribes. Such a package will serve two purposes, firstly it will act as "blood money" to the families of those killed in the Lal Masjid seige and secondly it will engage elements of the NWFP political class that will somehow paper over the divisions within NWFP society and restore the Pakistan Army's claim to leadership in the region. At the present time the Islamist political alliance, the MMA holds NWFP. As long as the MMA's grip on the province is unquestioned, there is no way such a political initiative will get off the ground. A key element of this step may be a reworking of the streams of the narco-economy in the region. Pakistan may even have to cooperate with Afghanistan to contain opium production.

This three step process is extremely delicate and painfully difficult under the best of circumstances. Carrying this out while struggling to maintain escalatory controls on violence levels inside NWFP is indescribably hard. Frankly speaking, I would be very surprised if this works, especially given the near complete unpredictability that surrounds Pakistan's urban populations and Pakistan's tribal belt. Such a plan would naturally garner support when presented with tea and biscuits on fine china in Islamabad, but will it fly in Orangi? will it fly in Nazimabad? in Wana? That is difficult to say and only time will tell on that.

Despite what idiots are saying about mangoes on forums that are losing their credibility, sensible people in India do not see any gain in interfering in a very complicated internal affair of Pakistan.