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February 4, 2011

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Securing the Indo-Pacific

MICHAEL AUSLIN of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) argues that the Indo-Pacific’s unique geography—the open seas, air lanes, and cyber-networks that link the region together and to the world—makes the balance of regional security most vulnerable in the “commons”. The United States’ and its partners’ goals would be to ensure access, contain conflicts, deter threats and evolve liberal norms in the commons. In an article for the AEI, “Security in the Indo-Pacific Commons”, Auslin states that the regional politico-military strategy should have a muscular US-forward military component augmented by a close security partnership among nations that share the common concerns and desire for the promotion of a liberal agenda in the region.

On Cyber War

PAUL CORNISH, DAVID LIVINGSTONE, DAVE CLEMENTE and CLAIRE YORKE of Chatham House assess the evolving challenges in cyberspace and describe it in brief as terra nullius. They explain that it is beyond the reach of mature political discourse that can provide opportunities for strategic benefits without resorting to armed conflict, conferring disproportionate power, anonymity, and a blurring of military-civilian boundaries. They add that cyberspace could be considered a fifth battlespace after land, water, air and space.

In a report, “On Cyber warfare”, they argue that cyber-warfare should be constrained and validated by politics, ethics, norms and values. To resolve its challenges while extending its complexities into the world of politics would question deeply embedded assumptions about the primacy of the state, the authority of the government and the role of government agencies and armed forces as providers of national security.
Indexing preparedness for ageing

Ageing
According to RICHARD JACKSON, NEIL HOWE, KEISUKE NAKASHIMA, fellows at the Global Aging Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the global economic crisis has left many senior citizens vulnerable, while reducing the room for governments to accommodate rising old-age dependency costs.

In “The Global Aging Preparedness Index”, they analyse the progress that 20 countries worldwide are making in preparation for global ageing, with focus on the old-age dependency dimension of the challenge. They state that extending work lives and increasing funded retirement savings represent the easiest solutions, which balance the needs of the elderly and younger workers.

Channeling foreign capital inflows
ESWAR PRASAD of Brookings and Cornell University analyses India’s record current account deficit, and asserts that policymakers must look for ways to channel capital inflows into investments that would help the country attain the benefits of foreign capital without exposure to the risks of volatile short-term flow.

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, “How India Can Cope With Plenty”, he recommends the following:
– opening up FDI to various sectors
– reforming corporate bond markets
– tackling corruption and red-tape
– reining in government expenditure
– switching from inefficient subsidies to direct cash transfers.

Prasad argues that the current period of high growth and large capital inflows could be the best ever opportunity for India to implement the suggested reforms.

Dealing with Chinese mercantilism
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN of the Peterson Institute draws lessons from Chinese mercantile history in the early 1800s to state that dealing with Beijing effectively requires a greater sensitivity to its history. This means the use of carrots rather than sticks, and a multilateral rules-based approach rather than a unilateral approach related to specific outcomes.

In a Business Standard op-ed, “Chinese Mercantilism: The Long View”, he calls for a long view on China, which relies on nudging Beijing away from the path of mercantilism rather than a confrontational approach—in spite of a range of unhelpful Chinese actions across a gamut of political and economic issues—stating that a dominant China may no longer be amenable to force

Countering Jihad
THOMAS HEGGHAMMER, of Oslo’s Norwegian Defence Research Establishment analyses the phenomenon of the Muslim foreign fighter to explain the factors that Muslims to fight in transnational wars, mostly after 1980. He posits that the phenomenon was a violent offshoot of the pan-Islamist identity movement that arose in 1970s through a process of elite competition.

In an article for International Security, “The Rise of Muslim Foreign Fighters: Islam and the Globalization of Jihad”, he suggests that the transnational Muslim fighter and the al-Qaeda operative were different in their political preferences although they hailed from the same pan-Islamist ideology, with the Muslim fighter having a stronger popular support base. Hegghammer concludes by saying that undermining pan-Islamism and promotion of state nationalism or other local forms of identification are key for an effective counter-strategy.
Stand up and be counted

At the High Table
In the wake of India’s election to the chair of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee and the impending elevation to the upcoming rotating Presidency of the UN Security Council in August, SHASHI THAROOR calls for New Delhi to take a firm stand on matters it is usually ambiguous on, such as Sudan, Iran, Middle-East and North Korea.

In an op-ed piece for Project Syndicate, “India at the UN High Table”, Tharoor writes that New Delhi has to augment its resources and expertise on diverse issues, and that India has a major opportunity to showcase its credentials as a major global player and aspirant to a permanent seat at the table.

Ravi Gopalan is a research associate with Pragati


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