October 19, 2017

The diplomacy of liberation: The international relations of the African National Congress of south africa, 1960-1985.

The diplomacy of liberation: The international relations of the African National Congress of south africa, 1960-1985.

Thomas, Scott (1990) The diplomacy of liberation: The international relations of the African National Congress of south africa, 1960-1985. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Most previous studies of the ANC have concentrated on its role in black South African politics since it was banned in 1960, and its efforts to wage armed struggle from outside the country. Since the early 1980s most research has concentrated on its increasing support within the country. In contrast, the focus of my research is the ANC's international relations. At the time the ANC was forced into exile in 1963-64 it had operated for nearly half a century as a political organization. This political legacy, together with its international relations in exile, has continued to influence the development of the ANC's structure, ideology, and strategy. The immediate physical survival of the ANC was its main priority after 1964. The thesis first describes the development of the ANC's External Mission, its offices around the world, and growing international support network. In exile the ANC was transformed into a revolutionary national liberation movement. Its military wing claims to be fighting a war for national liberation. The ANC also has political objectives it seeks to achieve in the international system: firstly, to mobilize international solidarity against apartheid, support for mandatory sanctions and the diplomatic isolation of South Africa; secondly, to translate this general international opposition to apartheid into support for the ANC as the sole legitimate representative of the people of South Africa. These objectives have been pursued in the Organization of African Unity, the Non-Aligned Movement, the United Nations, and in relations with the Western and Communist powers. The thesis explains the development of the ANC's relations with each of these organizations, movements, and states and assesses their role in the ANC's international relations.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)

On Indian Public Diplomacy


The 21st Century realignment of power is becoming more of a reality day-by-day, with the influence of Western powers waning to some extent and an increasingly assertive role being played by the rising powers like China and India in the global context.  This trend has most recently been hastened by the global economic downturn that comparatively had less effect on the Chinese and Indian economy compared to those of the United States and Europe. India’s exponential economic growth and recognition of its de-facto nuclear status by the U.S. and other powers (after the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal) have altered external perceptions of India, with the country being viewed as an emerging power with expanding global clout. In this scenario, India’s attempt to amplify its soft power through public diplomacy becomes crucial.

India as a new claimant of a place at the high table in the world has huge stakes in the arena of global politics, and thus maintaining and enhancing its influence remains a top priority for the country. In the 21st century there has been more of a need for states to use soft power so as to enhance one’s attractiveness in international arena and to show one’s better side in order to stimulate cooperation and dampen resistance, particularly concerning security policies. In this context, public diplomacy has become a very important instrument of soft power, as well as being a vital tool of Indian foreign policy. The undercurrent of Indian public diplomacy is to avow India as a rising power of undeniable international significance and influence, which is consistent with India’s demand to win a place at the high table by being granted the permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

India has already proved itself as a capable military and economic power in the world, yet somehow it finds struggles to project this power to the world. There are limits on what hard power can accomplish and thus a judicious mix of hard and soft power, or what is termed as ‘smart power’[1], is needed. Thus, the principal modus operandi for augmenting India’s influence in the world can be achieved by expanding its soft power. Soft power, the term coined by Joseph Nye, has become a portent measure of a country’s power and influence in the world today. Soft power is the ability to get what one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payments.[2] Soft power largely emanates from a country’s culture, its political values and institutions and its foreign policy.[3] India finds itself well-placed in possessing soft power resources because of its rich culture and history, its democratic credentials, its technological advancement, its large and influential diaspora and the leadership India wields among the developing nations through multilateral institutions like Non-Alignment movement. Thus, what distinguishes India’s claim to global leadership is its unique, unobtrusive, persuasive “soft power” or what South Asia expert Steven Cohen calls  “India’s Reputational Power”.[4]

One of the most important tools for exercising a country’s soft power is public diplomacy. Public diplomacy can be defined as, “a Government’s process of communicating with foreign publics in an attempt to bring about an understanding for its nation’s ideas and ideals, its institutions and culture, as well as its national goals and current policies.”[5] It can be seen as an instrument that a country’s government uses to mobilize its resources to communicate with and attract the public of other countries (rather than merely their governments) to promote its national interests through a number of means, such as broadcasting, direct outreach programmes, cultural diplomacy, educational and professional exchanges, and so forth. Public diplomacy is not only limited to influencing foreign publics but also for gaining feedback on the foreign perception of the host country. However, the most significant role of public diplomacy is to inform, explain and interpret the nation’s goals and strategies to foreign publics, in order to garner their support and create goodwill among other nations in order to achieve its national interests.

Evolution of Public Diplomacy

Although public diplomacy is a relatively new concept in the sphere of international affairs, it has promptly become an important foreign policy tool for many governments.  While the terminology is new, the practice of public diplomacy is quite old. Public diplomacy was first used by the American government during World War I when President Wilson created the committee on public information (also called the Creel Committee) whose task was to make the US war aims known all over the world. It was later successfully used during World War II to fight the Nazi propaganda. Things took a more concrete shape with the creation of the United States Information Agency (USIA) in 1953 to inform foreign audiences and explain US objectives to influence and gain support of foreign public opinions, which served US interests immensely during the Cold War. However, the U.S. lost interest in public diplomacy initiatives after the Cold War[6], only to be rudely awakened and have to reinvigorate public diplomacy after the events of 9/11 owing to increasing anti-Americanism in some parts of the world.

It is not only the U.S., but every other power like China, U.K., Russia and France are all investing in public diplomacy initiatives today, largely because of an ever increasing global integration, no country can stand in isolation and thus co-optive and soft power have become the core realities of the day. Countries like France and the United Kingdom have been running successful public diplomacy campaigns all over the world, establishing cultural centers for example, but now newly emerged powers like China are leaving no stone unturned to engage the world through its public diplomacy activities. India, with its high stakes as an emerging power in the world cannot lag behind in this “Battle of Ideas”.

A new understanding of public diplomacy is emerging in the highly globalized and integrated world of today. Public diplomacy can no longer be about straight-line propaganda or one-way communication in this information age because conditions for the production and enactment of public diplomacy have changed significantly because of the ways that global “interdependence” has radically altered the space of diplomacy. [7]  Public diplomacy today has become more inclusive where it includes multilevel relations conducted by MNC’s, NGO’s, private groups and social movements using new technologies of communication to interact with and petition foreign publics.[8] Emphasis has to be laid on adopting a more erudite grassroot people-to-people communication, for two-way engagement as public diplomacy is not only about communicating foreign policy but also about developing a long term understanding of people, culture and values of the host country. Cultural diplomacy has to be a part and parcel of public diplomacy for it to succeed in the globalized world. Public Diplomacy today can no longer be a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, it has to be tailored individually in consideration of the political and cultural environment of a country. Thus public diplomacy needs to be dynamic, flexible, and capable of adapting to changing circumstances.

Background of India’s Soft Power

India is one country that could always count itself among the few nations with strong cards in the arena of soft power, even when it was deficient in hard power.[9]  India began its journey as a self-determining state in 1947 with a soft power bang that faded away after its greatest exponent, the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, died in 1964.[10] During Nehru’s time, India lacked hard power resources, being a poor economy coupled with weak military capabilities. Despite this, India possessed unparalleled soft power among the developing nations, as Indian foreign policy was more idealistic in nature and vehemently campaigned for peaceful co-existence and economic equality in world economy. The number of diplomatic forays Nehru made into distant conflicts around the world was dizzying and brought instant recognition to India as a responsible Asian country that was trying to solve global problems.[11]  However, India had to soon face the harsh realities of international politics, where its hard power capabilities were soon tested by China in the 1962 war, a war where India had to face stark humiliation. The 1962 war with China, which was followed by the 1965 war with Pakistan, forced India to reassess its priorities, with the country choosing to focus on building its hard power capabilities and strengthening its hold in South Asia while minimizing its global role.

India began flexing its muscles in South Asia and played the role of a regional hegemon as illustrated by the clandestine role India played in the 1971 Pakistan-Bangladesh war and later humanitarian military intervention in Sri Lanka in 1987. Ironically, even as India practically disappeared as an actor[12] with influence in far-flung regions of the Global South like Africa and Latin America by the turn of the century, it began to improve its hard power attributes by logging higher economic growth and military prowess.[13] During that period India’s regional power rested on her hard power capabilities ranging from diplomatic coercion to economic sanctions to military interventions.[14] Soft power strategies like economic cooperation and the promotion of common political values only played a secondary role.[15] However, India could not play a very successful role as the regional hegemon, as India had to soon withdraw its IPKF forces from Sri Lanka in the face of opposition  from both the public and the Government in Sri Lanka. India soon lost out on the goodwill that it had created for itself in Bangladesh among both the Bangladeshi Government and public, when it had helped them in attaining their freedom from Pakistan. Adding to India’s woes was the Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.  India, once again faced with a changing international environment (the collapse of the Soviet Union) and the regional dynamics, re-evaluated its approach towards and South Asia and the world in the form of the Gujral doctrine.[16] The Gujral doctrine emphasized that India should play a bigger role in helping its neighbors while not requiring reciprocation and at the same time avowing a policy of non-interference in internal affairs and promotion of common economic interests and strengthening regional cooperation through SAARC.

Thus India once again began to lay emphasis on the use of soft power in its foreign policy conduct, as it had already proved its mettle as a rising power with proficient hard power capabilities. At the turn of the 21st century, India found itself in a very good position to play a bigger role in global politics owing to its military and economic power coupled with a huge soft power potential. India at the same time realized that hard power is not a one-stop solution to all of a country’s problems and neither is soft power. Soft power is one arrow in a nation’s security quiver; it is not an all-purpose panacea.[17] Thus an over-reliance on either one in the present context of geopolitics will only prove to be detrimental to India’s future.

India’s Soft Power Potential

India has often been regarded as a “cultural superpower”[18] with an expansive hoard of soft power resources. Very few countries can match the rich history, culture and civilization of India that creates an unparalleled interest and appeal for India abroad. In addition to this, India’s vibrant and thriving democracy, its independent and free media, its democratic institutions and its increasingly aware and pulsating civil society all contribute to India’s soft power. Along with this, India’s values of non-violence (ahimsa) and peace and the use of these methods in its struggle against colonialism have inspired and continue to inspire generations of leaders all over the world. Additionally, India’s exponential economic growth and innovation and leadership in information technology, have earned India, admiration the world over.

India’s entertainment industry and Bollywood have given India an edge over many other countries in the world, and have enhanced India’s image. Indian movies find a large number of takers in not only Asian countries (with some similarity of culture), but are climbing the popularity charts rapidly, in Africa, the Americas and Europe as well. Indian music, dance, fashion and art add to India’s growing soft power base. Along with this, the contribution of new-age Indian authors to English literature has to be credited in increasing awareness and interest about Indian society, polity and culture. The popularity of Indian cuisine and Yoga all over the world has only amplified the world’s fascination with the Indian nation. The large and influential Indian diaspora is another one of India’s assets in the realm of soft power. Indian diaspora has many a times played a pivotal role in shaping up positive policies towards India in many countries, especially the United States. India’s commitment to humanitarian rights in the world and its role in the UN peacekeeping mission has earned India a lot of respect.

In the information age, Nye has argued, the side with the better story to tell often wins. India must remain the “land of the better story.”[19] As a society with a free press and a thriving mass media, whose people whose are daily encouraged to unleash their creative energies, India has an extraordinary ability to tell stories that are more persuasive and attractive than those of its rivals.[20] India has to compete with soft power of other countries, especially China in the time to come, as China expands its influence gradually all over the world. India, in some ways has an advantage in this ‘competition of influence’ over China because of its soft power resources. As the world’s largest democracy, with a vibrant press and thriving entertainment industry, India has huge soft power advantage over authoritarian China and its state-controlled media. The implication is India can take advantage of that goodwill as Asia’s two giants’ battle for influence in the region and around the world.[21]  Another point is that India’s rise, unlike the rise of China, is not being viewed with trepidation and alarm in many countries.[22] India derives real political mileage from the prestige attached to its title of “world’s largest democracy”.[23] Being a democracy, India can assert a political influence in the world, especially now, when more and more countries are clamoring for democracy, as witnessed in the Arab Spring.

Indian Public Diplomacy Initiatives Undertaken Since 2006

The Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs was established in May 2006 with an aim to “educate and influence global and domestic opinion on key policy issues and project a better image of the country commensurate with its rising international standing.” Closely modelled after the U.S. State Department’s approach to public diplomacy, the Division will attempt to “sensitize and influence think tanks, universities, media and experts to create a more nuanced understanding of the government’s stance on tricky issues”. [24]

It’s not only the public diplomacy division of the MEA that’s engaged in promoting India’s image abroad, but is also aided by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which remains the pre-eminent instrument of cultural diplomacy. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting also lends support to the public diplomacy initiative with the ministry’s strategic use of the media, which is “responsible for international cooperation in the field of mass media, films and broadcasting, and interacts with its foreign counterparts on behalf of the Government of India.”[25] Apart from these, many other Government agencies carry out programmes that promote the Indian image abroad and engage in public diplomacy, both independently and collectively.

Brand India was one such campaign that was organized by Indian Brand Equity Foundation and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, and the Confederation of Indian Industry. The Foundation’s “primary objective was to build positive economic perceptions of India globally. It aimed to effectively present the India business perspective and leverage business partnerships in a globalizing market-place.”[26] To this end the Foundation developed a number of promotional campaigns, including brochures, films, print ads, and panels which emphasized India’s strong economy and encouraged national and international investment.[27]

Many notable initiatives have been undertaken by the Indian government to engage in an effective public diplomacy campaign in order to promote India’s interests. Some of these programmes have been campaigns like ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ and ‘Know India’ programme specifically targeted at the huge and influential Indian diaspora that cannot not only, aid India’s development but as well as, promote its interests all over the world. Programmes like ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ and ‘Know India’ campaign have met resounding success as the number of delegates taking part have increased rapidly year after year.

Other initiatives include publications, documentary films and cultural events that showcase different facets of the Indian nation. One such popular publication is the “India perspective” magazine that is published in 17 languages and distributed over 150 countries in the world.  The magazine seeks to project India’s rich cultural heritage, its composite pluralistic society as well as its vibrant economy. The Indian Public Diplomacy Division also partners with major domestic and international universities, think tanks and research organizations to organize seminars and conferences on subjects that are relevant to India’s concerns, and hosts delegations from various countries and organizations to provide them with a broad-based exposure to India; along with organizing lectures and other events within India with the objective of fostering a more informed discourse on India’s foreign policy.[28] These include lecture series on Indian foreign policy that have been organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in universities in India and abroad in UK, Indonesia and South Korea. One such conference and workshop was organized in December 2010, by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Centre for Media Studies, titled “Public Diplomacy in the Information Age”. Attended by scholars, journalists, business leaders and diplomats, the conference was aimed at exploring India’s public diplomacy potential. The conference helped reach some key conclusions as well as the reasons for embarking upon active Public Diplomacy.[29]

Other than these, Indian diplomatic missions regularly organize Indian film and music festivals locally, where both commercial and classical music and films are screened. India to increase its outreach to foreign public, has invested in public diplomacy 2.0 to promote a two-way communication, which stresses more on ‘listening’ to the foreign public rather than ‘telling’. The Indian Public Diplomacy Division has also taken to the social media in a big way by creating and regularly updating its accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

As a part of its outreach programmes the Public Diplomacy Division has also tied up with the ‘INDIA-future of change’ (IFC) initiative, which seeks to emphasize India’s position as a catalyst of change. IFC is a five-year initiative that promises to take India to the world, and get students and professionals across geographies to compete, collaborate and strengthen ties between India and the world.[30] The initiative signifies an innovative effort at communicating the emerging realities to a global audience, and managing a collaborative dialogue of what ‘Brand India’ begets as it readies to become a global power.

Success Stories of Indian Public Diplomacy

India has played a significant role in providing aid and development assistance to many countries in Africa and Asia. In Africa, for example, India has reached out to countries including Senegal and Ghana to help with projects ranging from rice production to information technology development. India has played a major role in infrastructural development in Afghanistan by building roads, highways, hospitals, schools, etc. which have won India not only admiration in Afghanistan but elsewhere as well. The role India plays in UN peacekeeping forces further augments India’s goodwill in the world; the Indian help in disaster management and assistance during the 2004 tsunami in South and South-East Asia and the Pakistan earthquake of 2005 have been successful exercises in Indian public diplomacy.

There are instances when India has used public diplomacy effectively as a foreign policy tool, as demonstrated in 2009, when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used the meeting with Pakistani President Zardari, first one after 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Yekaterinburg to drive home his concerns. On another occasion, he spoke of the sustainability of the Indian way of development as being inclusive, tolerant and plural in a clear reference to China.[31]Thus, the Indian government is slowly and steadily using public diplomacy to further its foreign policy interests in the world.

Limitations of Public Diplomacy

Public Diplomacy, despite its instrumental role as a foreign policy tool, cannot be used to solve all Indian foreign policy problems. There are limits on the role public diplomacy can play especially in the age of ‘communication and information revolution.’ Information in the 21st century cannot be controlled and the notion that a government can control its own image through some sort of managed propaganda is only an illusion.[32] Thus public diplomacy can achieve only certain targets, as internal contradictions of a country, more so of a democratic country like India, cannot be hidden.

India’s perception in the world is changing with India’s economic growth, its technological advancement, its de-facto nuclear status, its growing military capabilities and rising soft power and influence in the world. However, this is only one side of the story, as India’s glaring poverty (having the largest population of malnourished children in the world[33] is a dear and troubling reminder of India’s struggles as the country develops) farmer suicides, Maoist insurgency, humanitarian and separatist problems in Kashmir and North-East, repeated terrorist attacks are all impediments to a successful Indian public diplomacy, which become an obstacle in India’s journey to be a great power.

Strengthening Indian Public Diplomacy

Public diplomacy, despite its shortcomings remains an essential tool in the foreign policy arsenal of the Indian government to enhance its power and influence in the world. Public diplomacy is not merely a generic activity for disseminating data about India. It is not expected to be limited to detailing the economic growth and industrial potential of the country, and its democratic credentials. Public diplomacy is a target-oriented activity; both in terms of objectives and audience.[34] Indian public diplomacy has to focus on dialogues with the foreign audience; it has to lay stress on the need for ‘strategic communication’. Public diplomacy today needs to have a better understanding of cooperation, collective interests and engagement with other nations. A very important instrument of soft power is public diplomacy, which cannot just restrict itself to propaganda anymore and has to look beyond and involve inter-cultural dialogues.

Indian public diplomacy can be augmented by increasing funding for cultural activities in Indian consulates and embassies. India should also try and develop cultural centers all over the world on the lines of British Council, American Information Resource Centers, Alliance Francoise and the Confucius Institutes started by China. These institutes increase their respective countries’ soft power by projecting a favorable image of their countries to the outside world through public relations exercises.[35]  India should also expand its educational and professional exchange programs with foreign universities and organizations, and at the same time invite prominent members of civil society of other countries to facilitate a better understanding of Indian culture, interests and values, so that they can picture India in a favorable light. Innovativeness, foresight, marketing blitz, strategic planning and psychological management are imperative for any successful public diplomacy effort and thus India needs to invest handsomely in public diplomacy as it forms a connecting link between nations and provides a strategic leverage in foreign policy.[36]

The 2014 Elections: Impact on Public Diplomacy

The 2014 General elections in India are highly awaited and anticipated the world over. There is significant speculation as to whether the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) will come back to power, or will the BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party)-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) succeed in replacing the ruling party of the last ten years. Both the parties have been running vigorous campaigns around their projected Prime-Ministerial leaders (yet not confirmed officially), namely Rahul Gandhi for the Congress and Narendra Modi (present Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat) for the BJP. Both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi have been running dynamic campaigns, focusing on engaging with the Indian public at large.

Modi has managed to conduct many successful and impactful talks and engagement sessions with various interest groups in India, ranging from young university and college students, to women entrepreneurs, to the lower-caste groups, etc. not only this, he is already on the path to reincarnate a new image of himself (trying to rid himself of the Communal image) and has had very successful engagements with dignitaries and diplomats from the US (a country that had refused visa to Modi on his earlier accounts of a tainted communal image) and  the UK. Narendra Modi has been projecting an image of himself as a modern, tech-savvy, development-oriented, people’s leader. If Narendra Modi were to be elected the Prime Minister of India in the 2014 Elections, the face of Indian Public Diplomacy will certainly undergo some change from the present. He has already suggested a road map for restructuring the Ministry of External Affairs in India, where he wants to bring in new department that focuses on the new strategy of diplomacy that focuses on trade and economics. He’s also talked about restructuring the Indian image abroad more vehemently and he wants to do this by building India as a developmental model for the developing nations and making the Government function more transparent and accountable.

On the one hand, Narendra Modi with his greater emphasis on engagement with both interest groups in India and abroad, a more open and transparent policy, promises to offer Indian public diplomacy a fresh vigor. Yet, on the other, he may be more detrimental to the Indian image abroad, as he is viewed as an authoritarian, communal leader by many in the world, which may hurt the two very strong virtues of Indian soft power- democracy and secularism. However, for now, one can only wait and watch the outcomes of the 2014 elections and how it will shape up Indian Public Diplomacy efforts in the future.


Indian public diplomacy is a relatively new strategy adopted by the Indian government, but its importance is highly valued today as its become a vital instrument of India’s soft power.  Not only this, but public diplomacy is also an important tool in India’s foreign policy arsenal which can be used to leverage India’s international imprint in the world, keeping in mind India’s ascendance in international affairs. Public diplomacy has to be integrated into Indian foreign policymaking process in form of a comprehensive and cohesive strategy. Therefore, Public Diplomacy cannot be just an afterthought, but has to become imperative at all levels of foreign-policy making. Thus, for India to become a great power in the world, the Indian government has to exploit all resources of soft power, of which public diplomacy is a crucial one.

Ritambhara is a PhD scholar studying American Foreign Policy at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

China's latest dynasty fights survival


Editor's Note

The 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress runs Oct. 18-24. The convention marks the start of a transition as delegates name new members to lead China's most powerful political institutions. But the change in personnel is only part of a larger transformation underway in the Party and in the country — a process that began long before the party congress kicked off and will continue long after it ends. This is the final installment in a four-part series examining how far China has come in its transition, and how far it has yet to go.

Perhaps the most defining feature of China's political history has been the cyclical expansion and collapse of its dynasties. The country's first unified dynasty, which emerged more than 2,000 years ago, set what would come to be a familiar pattern: A central power rises and expands its rule until a challenge — be it a corruption scandal or a natural disaster — erodes its authority. The imperial court steps in to remove or reinforce the dynasty, and the process repeats. Each subsequent dynasty followed the same trajectory, struggling against China's geopolitical diversity, as well as the competing forces it produces, to justify their continued rule and fight internal weakness. The Communist Party is no exception.

Though modern China has changed considerably from its imperial origins, it retains an authoritarian system of governance reminiscent of an earlier era. The Communist Party's imperative to defend and sustain its monopoly on power — what was known in imperial China as the "mandate of heaven" — scarcely differs from that of the dynasties that ruled the country for millenniums prior. Throughout its 68 years in power, the Communist Party of China has demonstrated resilience and adaptability, qualities that enabled it to outlive numerous other communist movements around the world. The Party transformed itself from a revolutionary organization that fought Japanese occupation and helped reunify China into the architect of the country's economic miracle. Along the way, it endured several disturbances, including the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square protests, the rise of globalization and the development of the private economy. Now that the Chinese economy has started to slow after 30 years of unprecedented growth, the Party must once again adjust course to weather the profound changes ahead. But the rampant corruption, socio-economic inequality and ideological divisions troubling the country have cast doubt on whether the Party can rise to the challenge again.

The Quest for Legitimacy

As general secretary, President Xi Jinping shoulders most of the responsibility for seeing the Chinese Communist Party through. His first priority to that end is to restore the Party's legitimacy as the guardian of the Chinese state. Over the past five years, Xi has spearheaded the most ambitious initiative to reorganize and reorient the Party since the days of Mao Zedong, launching an anti-corruption drive that spans China's sprawling political apparatus. The campaign, which transcends a mere political purge, has brought down more than a million officials across the Party, the government and the military ranks. It has even deposed top brass from the once-sacrosanct Politburo Standing Committee.

Over the past five years, Xi has spearheaded the most ambitious initiative to reorganize and reorient the Party since the days of Mao Zedong.

Alongside the anti-corruption campaign, Xi has taken steps to firm up the Party's beliefs and institutional rules and to unite the bureaucracy and public behind a uniform ideology. He has also tried to bring the Party's core beliefs, which for years had taken a back seat to economic development, again to the fore. All the while, Xi has worked to engender a sense of nationalism among the public in hopes of reinforcing the Party's role as the defender of China's unity and the key to its continued ascent.

The president's efforts to create a more disciplined and capable Communist Party are starting to bear fruit. Party morale is up, or at least it appears to be improving. Furthermore, China's maritime expansion in the South and East China seas and its revival of overland trade corridors along the ancient Silk Road route have been received well at home. The popularity of these initiatives — bids to boost the country's international influence — has been a boon for the Xi administration and the Communist leadership as they grapple with the weakening economy.


Testing the Strategy

Still, Xi's moves to preserve the Party's authority will face numerous tests in the long run. The problems in China's political system are too large for a reorganization or a more assertive foreign policy to solve. After decades of single-party rule, China's Communist Party is locked in a persistent battle against its own weakness. Widespread corruption and entrenched patronage networks continue to tarnish the Party's reputation and undermine the attempts to restore its legitimacy. With that in mind, Xi and the Party will try to make their anti-corruption campaign a more institutional effort.

The president's appeal to nationalism, moreover, is a risky endeavor. History has repeatedly shown that the sentiment is easy to stoke but hard to contain; the nationalism that China's leaders have inspired in their public may well backfire if it grows beyond their control. On top of that, China has yet to fulfill one of its fundamental geopolitical goals, that of bringing Taiwan back under its control. Combined with the disputed territories, unsettled maritime boundaries and volatility in the surrounding region, this unrealized goal could contribute to a sense of vulnerability in China that could damage the Party's image.

Breaking the Dynastic Cycle

Today, of course, China is far less susceptible than ever to internal and external shocks. Expansive infrastructure connectivity, along with deep political and fiscal ties to local governments — even those in autonomous territories such as Xinjiang and Tibet — have enabled Beijing to achieve its basic imperative to unify the country. Even so, the Communist leadership seems acutely aware of its own vulnerability. As part of his effort to enshrine the Party's role in governing China, Xi has worked to stifle political discourse and silence dissent. The Party has co-opted or quashed factions that espouse a different political or moral ideology, and it has grown increasingly sensitive to, and intolerant of, perceived slights. At the same time, Beijing has tuned up its propaganda machine to ensure ideological conformity throughout China. The crackdown extends to civil society as well as the legal system, both of which the central government has in a stranglehold. More than any of his predecessors, Xi has focused on giving the Communist Party the tools to maintain control over the country.

Nearly 70 years after founding the People's Republic of China, the Communist Party is approaching another crossroads. Xi and his cohorts, like their dynastic counterparts before them, have many imperatives to fulfill to secure their country's status as a world power, including forging trade routes to protect its crucial exports. But achieving these objectives abroad will require stability at home. To keep its position in power, the Communist Party will have to keep fighting its internal deficiencies while suppressing its rivals or else overhaul China's political institutions to better support its aims. Either way, the clock is ticking

How to deal with Pokistan



This link is to a conference on Pakistan that really fleshes out just how delusional American diplomats are about Pakistan and the region. It’s worth a look because two veteran diplomats, Robin Raphel and Zalmay Khalilzad really demonstrate the continuing hallucination that is foisted at STATE for the region. That Raphel, a disgraced former diplomat, is there at all says it all.

The clouds of words that emanate from them illustrate just how deceptive they have been and still are. For his part, Khalilzad claims that he does not really know what Pakistan wants in the region.

A veteran of the region with some 30 years of experience in only this area, one has to wonder if there has ever been a more stunning admission of incompetence. What Pakistan wants has been quite clear for decades, complete dominance of Afghanistan ranging out from their mutual border west.

They have been building schools in the Afghan border provinces that teach Urdu for years. Pakistan’s deep commitment to the Taliban is an extension of their foreign policy which is a well known fact to everybody other than Mr. Khalilzad.

Raphel has also had a history of being the last person on earth to know what everyone else in foreign policy already knows. Going back to 1985, she testified before the US Congress that the Pakistanis were not supporting the Taliban. She said this when the CIA was keeping tabs on the supply effort by the ISI and writing reports which she had to have seen at the time.

Similar ignorance has been expressed by virtually all American spies and diplomats for the last 20 years and they have grudgingly accepted reality about their region in tiny bites spanning the last 15 years or that other measure of time, the death of over 2000 American service people.

In this conference/debate, there really is little difference between the camps allegedly arguing. On the one hand, there is a position for the US to adopt that essentially punishes Pakistan with a spectrum of negative actions ranging from economic to military. On the other hand, there is a point of view that insists that a continued diplomatic path is still the best way to go with Pakistan.

Virtually all of the people in the conference seem to take both sides but still manage to come up with some kind of argument theater. None take responsibility  for the greatest American foreign policy debacle in history and no one ever mentions Iran.

They talk about Russia and China and Afghanistan however. No one ever mentions pipeline. Yet Raphel was a passionate lobbyist for the TAPI pipeline that was the catalyst for the growth of a previously obscure militia, the Taliban. Such is the state of mind among our career foreign policy “experts”.

Only Laurel Miller, former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, mentions the logistics issue in a brief and breezy comment.

It’s stunning. For her part, Raphel mentions “progress” over the last 15 years in Afghanistan and no one in the room or on the stage says a peep. Over the decades, jezail has seen this time and again. Diplomats lie and lie and always, it’s a sin of omission that no one ever calls them out for. More clouds of words signifying nothing.


October 15, 2017

Australia unsure how ‘assertive’ China will act, Penny Wong says


Shadow foreign affairs minister says Australia needs to ‘understand China, its motives and its mindsets’

Paul Karp


Monday 16 October 2017 04.33 BSTLast modified on Monday 16 October 2017 05.29 BST

Australia does not “fully know” how an increasingly assertive China will use its power, Penny Wong has warned in a speech pledging to safeguard Australia’s sovereignty while accepting China as a global player.

The defence and security communities must be “on the lookout for threats” as government and business expand the trade relationship with China, the Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman told the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Canberra on Monday.

But Wong warned that discussion about China was “vulnerable … to infection with undertones of race and alienation”, citing One Nation’s “dystopian rhetoric” as an example.

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Wong said Australia must “understand China, its motives and its mindsets” because “we don’t yet know how its pursuit of a more ambitious agenda will play out globally” nor “how China intends to condition its use of power”.


“China is becoming more assertive, and more inclined not only to demand a place at the table, but also a say in which table and what design,” she said.

Wong said that Australia should work with China “to encourage it to play the positive role it is capable of in supporting and furthering regional stability and security”.

Wong said Australia must afford China the “priority it merits”, including by not remaining “defiantly monolingual”, instead committing to ramp up study of Mandarin.

Wong encouraged greater integration of economic and security policy, noting that China’s belt and road initiative was an example where assessment purely on strategic implications could see Australia “missing out on its potential” but a “purely economic approach ignores our own strategic interests”.

She announced that, in addition to engagement at the head of government and ministerial level, Labor would “considerably expand” engagement between the senior public service, not just in defence and foreign affairs but “in particular the Treasury” and other departments with ongoing business in China.

She noted proposals for an independent Australia-China commission, and said Labor would give “serious consideration” to the idea.


Wong said that at times China’s strategic objectives and its “long-term vision of its own place in the world” conflicted with the regional rules-based order, citing the South China Sea as an example.

In 2016 the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague ruled that China had no historical title over the South China Sea.

The Turnbull government has stressed the need for China to respect the binding ruling and the sovereignty of smaller nations, contributing to warnings from Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, that Australia must not “take sides” as occurred in the Cold War.

Earlier, in her speech at the same event, the foreign minister rejected the view Australia was “taking sides” by insisting China and the Philippines respect the international court’s decision. Julie Bishop warned the international rules-based order was “under strain, even fraying” as some nations sought to bend or break the rules for “short-term gain”.

She cited North Korea’s defiance of United Nations security council resolutions as the “most egregious” example.


Bishop said while the US would be the “only global superpower into the foreseeable future”, in the next 10 years – the time covered by the forthcoming foreign affairs white paper – Asia’s combined military spending would match the US’s.

In that time, she warned Australia could fall out of the world’s top 20 economies; it is projected to be overtaken by Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand.

Bishop noted many territorial disagreements involved Asia’s great powers, citing China’s maritime disputes with five south-east Asian states including the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, the dispute over the Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyu Islands) with Japan and a land border dispute with India.

Wong said the world was in a period of disruption characterised by “unpredictable political events, re-emergent nationalism, the increasing challenge to democracy as the most effective form of political participation, worsening economic inequality” and a challenge to the international rules-based order.

China was part of that disruption and through economic growth had achieved “a standing as a world power that would once have only been possible through military power”, she said.

Wong argued Australia’s long-term relationship with China would be developed not “at the expense of our relationship with the US” but rather to a “very significant extent” because of that relationship.

She said the Anzus treaty between Australia and the US not only underpinned Australia’s security but “is a key contributor to the peace, stability and security of our region”, rejecting both the view of US regional treaties as an attempt to “contain” China and any suggestion China needed to be contained.

“What Australia, China and the US are looking for is a convergence, as far as is practicable, of our individual national interests in Asia, locating those interests within a rules-based order.”

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Wong argued that China’s long-term interests were enhanced by stability, and that Australia could navigate a path guided by its own national interests rather than treating China and the US as competitors engaged in a “binary relationship

OBOR's geopolitical significance for the EU

Excerpt from report

OBOR's geostrategic significance for the EU

Improving infrastructure along the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt has the potential to contribute to economic development and regional stability in Eurasia from which both China and the EU could benefit in terms of new markets and energy security. OBOR thus opens opportunities for the EU to pursue its geostrategic ambitions in Central Asia by deepening the EU-China strategic partnership through cooperation in
non-traditional security fields, possibly paving the way to EU-Russia reconciliation. The maritime trajectory of OBOR will sooner or later require the EU to take a more outspoken position on maritime disputes in the South China Sea in favour of an international rules-based order.

If OBOR is considered to be 'the most ambitious infrastructure-based security initiative in the world today', it may be argued that it could be advantageous for the EU to consider how its existing policy tools and strategies, such as the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the EU Maritime Security Strategy, could be linked with OBOR and how this strategic alignment could feed into the EU's new Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy which came out on 29 June 2016.

OBOR's geopolitical significance for the EU

OBOR-induced investment and trade relations between China and countries in hEurasia, Africa and the Middle East are likely to result in China's growing political and economic leverage on these countries. What impact this will have on the EU's long-term geopolitical, economic and geostrategic interests will also depend on whether the EU
responds to OBOR with one voice and coordinated policies.

Until recently, China's infrastructure investment in Europe targeted individual EU countries such as Greece and the 16+1 group rather than the EU as a block. This has led to concerns about China's investment strategy pursuing 'divide and rule tactics' capitalising on the lack of a common EU strategy – as evidenced by the past lack of consultation at EU level as regards the AIIB accession of a total of 14 EU Member States – and EU Member States' propensity to privilege their bilateral ties with China. However, China's strong interest in investing in EU connectivity initiatives and in seeking
synergies between them and OBOR, as voiced at the 2015 EU-China summit, could be a turning point. With the launch of the EU-China Connectivity Platform, the EU has created a common framework for European cooperation with China on OBOR with a view to defining cooperation strategies, plans and policies and to clarifying the rules and principles governing joint projects including governance and rule of law issues. As OBOR is a 'moving concept', it provides the EU with an opportunity to take part in shaping the
agenda jointly with China and deepen EU-China relations.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a source of regional tensions, warns US War College expert


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a source of regional tensions, warns US War College expert

ANI | Last Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017 11:33 AM IST

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or the CPEC is going to further escalate regional tensions according to an expert who has served with the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army's War College in Washington, DC.

Washington: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or the CPEC is going to further escalate regional tensions according to an expert who has served with the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army's War College in Washington, DC.

Dr. Robert G. Darius, a former research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, said, "The CPEC passing through disputed areas is not only vulnerability, but an additional source of regional tension, which is not needed in an already tensed and unstable area of the world, where India is the only bastion of democracy and stability." 

In his assessment the CPEC could be a trigger point for a regional flare up as it`s infrastructure passed over land which is disputed and is claimed by India to be part of the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir.

This assessment by a former expert associated with the U.S. War College is important as it follows comments made by the U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis who had indicated that the U.S. Could not support the CPEC as it passed over disputed territory. 

The U.S. Had also refrained from backing the One Road, One Belt summit held in Beijing as U.S. Government maintains that the World needs multiple belts and multiple roads to integrate rather than one Belt and Road. The U.S and China do not agree on CPEC and this assessment by Dr Robert Darius is a stark reminder of the consequences of CPEC which South Asia could face if China continues with building infrastructure over the disputed land of Gilgit - Baltistan.

The views of Dr Robert Darius have been endorsed by Josephine Derks, senior research analyst at the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), a think-tank based in Amsterdam. 
Josephine Derks said " No longer can the international community turn a blind eye to the fact that the CPEC is running through a disputed territory, namely Gilgit Baltistan, a region legally part of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Nor can one ignore the fact that Gilgit Baltistan does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Therefore, this Corridor serve as a breach of International law and Pakistan`s own Constitution."

Ms Derks added, "The abundant natural resources of Gilgit Baltistan, such as gold, copper, coal, iron and silver, will be exploited for the construction of this mega-project, while the people of Gilgit Baltistan will be heavily affected by the creation of this economic corridor, yet they have been excluded from any say in this project, indicating that the opinion of the indigenous people of the region are not taken into account." 

October 14, 2017

U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is obsolete

U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is obsolete

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD October 14, 2017

U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of Central Command, believes that military pressure will force the Taliban to negotiate:

"That's what the object is here is, to use the military pressure to bring them to the table and enhance the efforts, not only diplomatically but regionally, focused on bringing this to some kind of a political negotiation settlement and some kind of peace discussion that takes place."

It is Vietnam déjà vu.

In his October 5, 1964 memorandum "How Valid Are the Assumptions Underlying Our Vietnam Policy," Undersecretary of State George Ball posed several questions about the deteriorating political and military situation in South Vietnam, among them:

"Can we, by military pressure against North Vietnam, persuade the Hanoi Government to stop Viet Cong action in the South or at least reduce that action to the point where the Viet Cong insurgency becomes manageable? If complete military victory is not possible, can we, by military pressure against North Vietnam, at least improve our bargaining position to the point where an acceptable negotiated solution might be achieved?"

North Vietnam was, for decades, deeply committed to its policy of annexation of South Vietnam and repeatedly insisted it would only negotiate on the basis of a U.S. withdrawal.

The Taliban are deeply committed to controlling Afghanistan and have also stated it would only negotiate on the basis of a U.S. and NATO withdrawal.

The Paris Peace Accords, officially known as the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, was signed on January 27, 1973. Twenty-seven months later, North Vietnam overran South Vietnam.

After a negotiated settlement, I expect the Afghanistan government to fall to the Taliban within twelve months of a U.S. and NATO withdrawal.

The Taliban have four major operational headquarters in Pakistan covering the entire border with Afghanistan; Peshawar, Miran Shah (Haqqani), Quetta and northeast of Dalbandin. There are literally hundreds of recruiting, training and financial centers feeding into those headquarters with thousands of Afghans being educated in Taliban-influenced religious schools.

It is actually Pakistan with whom the U.S. should be negotiating because Pakistan oversees that vast Taliban infrastructure as well as controls the supply routes to our troops in land-locked Afghanistan.

And Pakistan wants the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan because it has other plans, but Islamabad is willing to let us bleed a bit more to improve their bargaining position with the Chinese.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China's larger Belt and Road Initiative, aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea.

But CPEC is more than a commercial initiative. It is one element of China's strategy to overtake the U.S. as the world's foremost superpower. A humiliating defeat for the U.S. in Afghanistan would eliminate significant American influence in the region for at least a generation.

Huge tracks of land in Gwadar have been allocated to the Chinese for port and naval facility development as well as expansion of the international airport to handle heavy cargo flights. Surveying and soil sampling have been done by Chinese engineers along the Dasht River near the Iranian border. In the past weeks, high level talks between the Pakistanis and Iranians, sometimes with the participation of the Chinese, have taken place, most likely involving security, construction and resource use, particularly fresh water.

The Chinese are also investigating other sites along Pakistan's Makran coast including potential naval facilities in the Kalmat-Ormara area. The Chinese have visited and bought land in Sonmiani, which houses Pakistan's spaceport and space research center as well as a planned liquid natural gas terminal.

Chinese military control of Pakistan's Makran coast would allow Beijing to dominate vital sea lanes leading to the Persian Gulf and link to the Chinese base in Djibouti at the entrance of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, both strategic choke points.

Withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO from Afghanistan would also allow China to exploit that country's estimated $3 trillion in untapped mineral resources, in addition to Balochistan's $1 trillion in gold, copper, oil, precious stones, coal, chromite and natural gas. 

It is unlikely that the Afghanistan strategy currently being pursued by the Trump Administration will produce either military victory or create the conditions by which a negotiated settlement favorable to the U.S. can be obtained.

That is because the strategy was designed more to match the contents of the U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Manual FM 3-24 than reflect reality on the ground.

In 1964, George Ball asked a question about Vietnam policy that is applicable to the Trump Administration's "new" Afghanistan strategy:

"Are we proposing action against the North [in Afghanistan] because we are reasonably confident it will, in fact, work, or merely because we are becoming reasonably confident that the present course of action will not work and we are not able to think of anything else to do?"

There are alternatives to fighting the last war.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.

October 13, 2017

Balochistan National Congress (BNC) welcome the U.S Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s statement of support for the Baloch people

Balochistan National Congress (BNC) welcome the U.S Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s statement of support for the Baloch people and other oppressed nationalities in Pakistan.



October 13, 2017

Washington, D.C: - Balochistan National Congress (BNC) welcome and thank the U.S Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for his support to the oppressed Baloch people in Pakistan occupied Balochistan. 

Rohrabacher, speaking in the US House of Representatives, said that,”the US should support the Baloch people and other oppressed groups in Pakistan, who are being subject to grave human rights violations for demanding the right to self-determination”.

"We thank Dana Rohrabacher for his continues and unwavering support to the oppressed Baloch people of Pakistan occupied Balochistan", said Dr. Baloch, the President of BNC.

Dana Rohrabacher is a member of the U.S House of Representatives representing California's 48th congressional district and is serving as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. He held the historic Hearing on Balochistan in February 18, 2012 On the Capital Hills to draw the attention of the U.S lawmakers and the U.S Government to the plights of the Baloch people in Pakistan, supporting their right to self-determination.

Balochistan, the homeland of more than 16 millions Baloch people worldwide, is currently illegally occupied and divided between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and Baloch people are fighting to re-gain their independence and are being subjected to daily humiliation, subjugation, discrimination and torture in their own homeland by the foreign occupying forces.  

Dr. Baloch asked the Trump administration to support the oppressed Baloch people in their fight for freedom and Justice and against the illegal occupation of their homeland and exploitations of their natural resources by Pakistan, Iran and China. 

He said, “an independent secular and democratic Balochistan in the region is in the greater interests of US and for the regional peace and stability and security. It will also help to eliminate Islamic extremism and terrorist’s safe heavens in Balochistan, provided by the state of Pakistan and army”.


Related Links:

Historic Hearing on Balochistan on Capitol Hill.On the witness stand: Col Ralph Peter's speech

October 12, 2017

The Geopolitics of the Kra Canal


Aerial nature view of Kho Khot Kra or Kra Isthmus. (boonsom/Getty Images)

4 OCT 2017Military.com | by Joseph V. Micallef

Joseph V. Micallef is a best-selling military history and world affairs author, and keynote speaker. Follow him on Twitter at@JosephVMicallef.

The Kra or Thai Canal is a proposed manmade waterway across the Kra Isthmus on the Malay Peninsula in southern Thailand. The canal would connect the South China Sea with the Andaman Sea, providing a link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

It would be located about 500 miles south of Bangkok and 120 miles north of Thailand’s border with Malaysia. The new route would reduce the distance oil tankers from the Persian Gulf to Asian ports must traverse by around 700 miles.

The canal would also eliminate the need to transit the increasingly crowded, piracy-prone and dangerous Malacca Strait, as well as the adjacent Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java or the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok.

With proposed funding from China, its construction would have far-ranging implications for the strategic landscape of Southeast Asia and especially for important American allies such as India, Sri Lanka and the city state of Singapore.

The Kra Isthmus runs approximately 700 miles and ranges in width from 26.5 miles at its narrowest to about 200 hundred miles at its widest.

Overland trade routes across the isthmus connecting Southeast Asia and India have existed for centuries. The isthmus lies at the juncture of the Indian Ocean monsoon system and the trade winds of the South China Sea.

Origins of the Canal

The idea of a canal across the Kra Isthmus goes back to the 17th century.

In 1677, upon hearing of the construction of the Canal du Midi connecting -- via the Garonne River, the Atlantic and Mediterranean -- King Ramathibodi III of Siam asked Louis XIV to send a French engineer to examine the possibility of building a canal to connect Songkhla and Marid (Myanmar)

The engineer, known only by his surname de Lamar, surveyed several possible routes, but the idea was abandoned as being impractical.

The idea resurfaced again in 1793, when the brother of King Rama I proposed a canal to make it easier to send naval vessels to protect Siam's west coast from pirates.

The British East India Company examined several possible canal routes over the course of the early 19th century but decided against building one.

In 1858, during the reign of King Rama IV, Great Britain asked for permission to build a canal from Ranog to Lung Susan, the narrowest portion of the Kra Isthmus. While narrow, the terrain is quite mountainous. The project was abandoned when the financial requirements were deemed too high.

The British government, in 1863, again considered the possibility of a canal, this time on the Burmese portion of the Kra peninsula, after lower Burma was incorporated into British India.

In 1872, London dispatched Captain A.G. Lipton to explore possible canal routes that would shorten the distance between India and Hong Kong. A route was surveyed from Victoria Point (Kawthaung, Burma) up the Kra River and across the peninsula to Chumphon, a distance of about 30 miles. This route also, however, proved too difficult for construction of a canal.

Between 1862 and 1882, various French proposals to build a canal were submitted to Rama IV and later Rama V. In June 1882, no less than Ferdinand de Lesseps, the promoter behind the construction of the Suez Canal, visited the area to examine the feasibility of building a canal. Bowing to British pressure, however, King Rama V of Siam denied him permission to proceed.

The king was concerned that France, which by now had taken over much of Indochina, had designs on the Kingdom of Siam.

Great Britain, in turn, did not want to see a French presence across the Andaman Sea from India. Nor did it want to see a canal that would facilitate Paris' ability to project French naval power into the Indian Ocean.

More importantly, London wanted to preserve the critical role of Singapore as both a trading and shipping hub, as well as its strategic position astride the sea lanes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

In 1897, Siam and Great Britain signed a secret convention under which the government of Siam agreed not to cede any rights on the Malay Peninsula without British consent and specifically prohibiting the building of a canal across the isthmus.

A variety of commercial interests explored the building of a Kra canal during the early part of the 20th century. These efforts were stymied, however, by British diplomatic pressure on Siam.

In the 1930s, the Japanese government proposed building a canal as a way for the Japanese Imperial Fleet to bypass the British naval base in Singapore. British concerns about the proposal were clearly laid out in a newsreel from the period. Nothing came of this proposal either.

After World War II, Great Britain signed a new treaty with Thailand, the 1946 Anglo-Thai Treaty. Article 7 again reaffirmed that, "the Siamese government undertakes that no canal linking the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Siam shall be cut across Siamese territory without the prior concurrence of the government of the United Kingdom."

The treaty was later revoked by the Thai government in 1954.

In October 1983, an article in the Executive Intelligence Review, a publication linked to controversial American politician Lyndon LaRouche, proposed the building of a Kra canal to the Thai Ministry of Transportation.

A largely Japanese-based consortium, led by Mitsubishi, created considerable controversy when it suggested the use of nuclear explosives to cut a path for the canal across the mountainous terrain of the Kra peninsula.

The project resurfaced several more times during the latter part of the 20th century. In the late 1990s, Japan's Global Infrastructure Fund conducted a feasibility study that determined a 30-mile canal across the Kra Isthmus could be built for around $20 billion.

A variety of other routes were also proposed, including Brandon Bay to Phang Nga, and across Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang Provinces. In total, 14 different possible routes have been identified for a Kra canal.

Chinese Interest

In 2005, or thereabouts, the Chinese government floated its interest in underwriting the cost of a Kra canal. The proposal was one of several major infrastructure projects that China offered to finance and that would eventually, in 2013, be folded in Xi Jinping's One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.

The Chinese proposal envisioned a 10-year construction project manned by approximately 30,000 Chinese workers at a cost of $20 billion to $25 billion.

In 2007, it was announced that the proposal had been tentatively approved by the Thai government pending more extensive feasibility studies. However, no further progress was made.

In March 2014, the China Daily Maildisclosed that LiuGong Machinery Co. Ltd., a huge state-owned engineering and manufacturing group; XCMG; and privately owned Sandy Heavy Industry Co. Ltd. had agreed to take the lead in organizing the construction of a Kra canal.

In 2015, an organization called the Asia Union Group, is headed by former Thai Premier Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, signed a memorandum of understanding with the China-Thailand KRA Infrastructure Investment and Development Company of Guangzhou, China, to conduct a feasibility study of the proposed canal.

The initiative was also endorsed by the Thai Canal Association of Study and Development (TCASD). The TCASD is headed by Pongthep Tesprateep, a former Thai Army chief of staff, and consists of various retired Thai generals, politicians and businessmen with close links to China, who are in favor of building the Kra Canal.

The project has also been publicly supported by the Thai-Chinese Cultural and Economic Association, headed by former Thai Deputy Prime Minister Bhokin Bhalakula.

Both the Thai and Chinese governments subsequently denied that any official agreement had been signed between the two countries.

Beijing, however, has often used private Chinese companies to front government-funded infrastructure development projects.

A source at the LaRouche organization has claimed that a feasibility study was completed in 2016, that a group from Peking University and the Chinese company Grand Dragon International Holding have already surveyed a proposed route, and that the consortium is only awaiting official permission from the Thai government to get started.

In September 2017, the King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and the TCASD sponsored a conference in Bangkok to examine the role of the Thai Canal in the broader context of China's Maritime Silk Road initiative. The conference once again urged the Thai government to move forward on building the Kra Canal.

The Malacca Dilemma

Currently, most of the ship traffic between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and from there to the Pacific traverses the Malacca, Sunda or Lombok straits. Most ships use the Malacca Strait.

Compared to the proposed Kra Canal, the Malacca passage adds 720 miles, roughly two to three days; the Sunda passage adds 1,700 miles; and the Lombok passage adds 2,100 miles.

The Strait of Malacca is a 620-mile-long waterway between Malaysia and the island of Sumatra.

At its narrowest point, the Philip channel, near Singapore, it is just 1.6 miles wide. Its shallowest point in the shipping lane is 82 feet -- just barely enough for a Malaccamax class, Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), with a draft of 66 feet.

Anything with a deeper draft would be dangerous, given prevailing currents, during a low tide.

Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCC) of 400 thousand or more dead weight tons, only two of which are currently operating, have a draft of more than 112 feet and cannot traverse the Malacca Strait. They must detour through the deeper Lombok Strait.

Approximately 300 ships a day traverse the Malacca Strait. That is more than double the combined number of ships that daily cross the Suez and Panama Canals. In total, about 32,000 ships used the Panama and Suez canals in 2016, versus 84,000 that used the Malacca Strait.

At its narrowest point, only a single, reversible lane is available, and ships must travel in one direction only.

Since 2001, there have been a total of 14 major ship collisions in the Malacca Strait. The most recent event involved a USS Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer, the John S. McCain, which collided with a Liberian-registered merchant vessel on Aug. 21, 2017, and resulted in the deaths of 10 U.S. Navyservicemen.

According to a study by the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA), the maximum capacity that could be accommodated by the Malacca Strait is around 122,000 ships. The World Bank has estimated that, given current trends, ship traffic in the Malacca Strait will reach an estimated 122,640 ships by 2020 and 140,000 by 2025.

Currently, 25% of all world trade passes through the Malacca Strait. That estimate includes more than 90% of Japan's and South Korea's oil and liquefied natural gas needs, as well as 80% of China's oil imports, about 20% of its total oil consumption. Between 15 and 18 million barrels of oil, about 17% of the world's production, cross the Malacca Strait every day.

China's ongoing and growing dependence on oil shipments from the Mideast via the Malacca Strait prompted former Chinese President Hu Jintao to describe Beijing's geopolitical vulnerability as The Malacca Dilemma.

Building the Kra Canal

The construction of a Kra canal poses several significant engineering challenges.

First, although the Malay Peninsula is only 26.5 miles wide at its narrowest point, (from the Kra River estuary to the Bay of Sawi), it is dominated by a long granite mountainous ridge, the Tenasserim Hills, that runs down the middle of the peninsula.

The ridge is more than 1,000 miles in length and varies in height from approximately 4,600 to 250 feet above sea level. Digging through the ridge has been the principal problem that has stymied historic attempts at digging a canal.

A system of locks could solve the problem of getting over the ridge. Locks, however, are usually between 10 and 20 times more expensive to build per running foot than normal excavation.

A system of locks sufficient to move ships over a 200+ foot ridge would require around six to 10 separate locks, three to five on each side of the ridge, and would still necessitate significant excavation. The highest vertical distance currently handled by locks is 370 feet at China's Three Gorges dam.

The current $30 billion to $50 billion construction estimate is based on a sea level canal and does not anticipate any lock construction. Any such construction would dramatically increase the expected cost.

Moreover, it is not clear that there is sufficient water available to permit the function of a lock system. Water used in the locks could be captured and recycled, but this would likely increase operating costs significantly.

The actual physical dimensions of the canal would depend on how large a ship it was designed to accommodate. A canal capable of handling a ULCC would need to be much larger than the 61-mile by 1,300-foot-wide and 82-foot-deep proposal that was first unveiled.

At a depth of 82 feet, including the dredging of the approaches to the canal, the entire waterway would be 120 miles long. At a depth of 164 feet, sufficient to handle ULCCs, the length of the canal becomes 250 miles.

Without a definitive route and design, it's impossible to determine exactly how much earth would need to be excavated to build a sea level canal. However, based on the current proposal and the likely possible routes, it has been estimated that upward of 1.3 billion cubic yards of earth would have to be moved.

To put this quantity in perspective, the initial construction of the Panama Canal required the excavation of about 260 million cubic yards. Subsequent expansion of the canal required an additional 200 million cubic yards to be removed.

The initial construction of the Suez Canal required excavating 100 million cubic yards. Its subsequent expansion, including the most recent phase that ended in 2016, required an additional 340 million cubic yards.

All told, the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal required a total of between 430 and 460 million cubic yards of earth to be removed. The proposed Kra canal would require approximately three times the amount of excavation. 1.3 billion cubic yards of earth is enough to bury the entire island of Manhattan under 60 feet of debris.

Dumping this much debris will prove to be a formidable task. The further it needs to be transported, the more expensive the project will be. Dumping at sea or using the debris to create new offshore islands would be cheaper but would have wide-ranging environmental and political consequences.

Land Bridge

One alternative is to use the Kra Isthmus as a land bridge between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A road construction project was started in 1993 to provide a transportation corridor across the isthmus. The opposing lanes of the highway are about 500 feet apart to accommodate pipelines and a railroad to shift container traffic.

Oil refineries and storage depots were also proposed to be built at either end of the corridor. The highway has never been finished, however, and the railroad, refineries and pipelines were never built.

A project of this magnitude would be expected to add from one to two percent to Thailand's GNP. Most of the labor force, however, will come from China. It's not clear what supplies will be sourced locally, however, or how much of the economic activity generated will directly benefit Thailand.

The Geopolitics of the Kra Canal

The construction of the Kra Canal would significantly upend the geopolitics of the region, in the process producing significant winners and losers.

The two most significant losers would be Singapore and the United States. Singapore owes its importance to the fact that it is adjacent to the narrowest portion of the Malacca Strait and hence, from a naval standpoint, the easiest point to defend and from which to interdict seaborne traffic.

It also lies about halfway between Bengal and Hong Kong. During the first half of the 19th century, it was a convenient stopping point for British ships bringing opium from Bengal's poppy fields to Hong Kong.

Approximately 30% of the shipping traffic through the Malacca Strait subsequently stops in one of four Malaysian ports on the South China Sea: Klang, Penang, Johor and Tanjung Pelepas. Another 50% to 60% stops in Singapore, while the balance sails on through.

It has been suggested that Singapore could lose between 30% and 50% of its shipping traffic because of the Kra Canal. This is completely speculative. Singapore has also developed a sophisticated support network for its shipping industry, ranging from legal and financial services to warehousing and ship repair.

It would be a while until port facilities adjacent to the Kra Canal could offer the range and sophistication of services that Singapore offers. On the other hand, it is inevitable that the Kra Canal would have a negative impact on Singapore's shipping business.

The United States currently conducts anti-piracy patrols in the region, and in the Malacca Strait in particular. Washington has a close working relationship with Singapore and the U.S. Navy has access to port and ship repair facilities there.

The U.S. also operates P-8 Poseidon long-range reconnaissance aircraft from Singapore. The P-8s are equipped with Airborne Ground Surveillance capabilities and can play a varied role in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as reconnaissance and maritime patrol.

That puts the U.S. in a strong position should it ever need to interdict maritime traffic through the Malacca, Sunda and Lombok straits.

The Kra Canal would create an alternative shipping route to the Malacca Strait, a route where the ability of the U.S. Navy to project power would be less.

Moreover, a Chinese-built canal would presumably be subject to a considerable amount of influence from Beijing, potentially creating a situation where China might have an advantage over the U.S. in shifting naval forces between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

Thailand would be a significant beneficiary. The construction of such a massive project would revitalize the Thai economy after a multi-year slump from which it is only now recovering.

The canal could be a significant moneymaker for Bangkok. Since it does not offer the shipping efficiencies presented by either the Suez or Panama canals, however, it is unlikely to ever be as profitable as those canals.

Thai promoters of the canal envision it at the center of industrial manufacturing, dry-dock and shipbuilding facilities with the potential of transforming the region into a Thai version of Europort in Rotterdam.

Strategically, a canal would facilitate the movement of Thai naval forces between 

October 11, 2017

India - An Emerging Global Power

Dr Swamy speaking at UN HQ on “India - An Emerging Global Power “

Dr Subramanian Swamy’s video of speech on Tuesday 10th Oct 2017 at the UN HQ New York on *“India-An Emerging Global Power”* youtu.be/vVt5cWWTl78  

October 10, 2017

I will never forget the sound of a body being dropped into the pit when a man was hanged

Source: Dawn, Pakistan

Sohail YafatUpdated October 10, 2017

Countdown to Execution

Jails get quiet when prisoners hear an execution warrant has been issued.

Like every other jail in Pakistan, Sahiwal Central Jail was full. Of course, by full, I mean holding twice as many prisoners than it was built for. If you put thousands of men in cages, it can get loud. I barely slept at night when I was a prisoner there for ten years. The sounds of men snoring, crying and sometimes screaming in their sleep will keep you awake.

The exception was when we knew that one of us was heading to the gallows. We would get silence, but we would lose our sleep.

They would quietly separate the prisoner with the execution warrant from the general population of the prison. We all knew then that his time had come.

Even those of us who were not on death row would tense up. Held like animals in a pen, we would turn to the one thing that we could do: pray. We would collect in groups, praying to a higher power – because the power on the ground was not listening – to spare his life, for mercy to replace vengeance, for a miracle.

We would know that the deed had been done when the prison guard, charged with counting the prisoners every morning, would be late. On normal days, he would turn up at 5:30 am. On an execution day, he would arrive by 8:00 am. That day, none of us would speak. The televisions and radio would be silent.

Jails in Pakistan are always clean because prisoners are in charge of upkeep. They do not have much to do to while away the time. So they clean. But sometimes, they also help with carrying out the execution.

The prisoners helping out with the execution are responsible for removing the body, after it has remained suspended for 30 minutes. This is a requirement under Pakistan’s Prisons Manual. They also clean the corpse, and hand it over to the family that waits outside the prison gate with a charpai and a set of clothes. The family is also told to arrange an ambulance at their own expense.

Prisons have a graveyard where unclaimed bodies are buried. There are not that many graves there, though. Many of us have families. Demonised as we are by the rest of the world, there are still people who remember us as humans, not criminals. We do mean something to somebody.

I was asked to witness an execution of one of my fellow inmates in 2006. Mami Pabal was a burly man, at least six feet tall with a booming voice. He had been at Sahiwal Central Jail for years and had befriended many of us. Even the prison officials liked his company. It was easy to forget that he had been accused of murder. He used to joke, “There are a lot of crimes I should be in here for – but this murder is not one of them.”

When death unnecessarily came for him, he cried like a small child.

He was escorted to the gallows. Half-carried would be more accurate. The Medical Officer, Magistrate, jail Superintendent, blacksmith, and two men from the victim’s family were there. The jail staff who were present kept reminding the victim’s family of the option to forgive Mami.

The superintendent told him to recite the kalma. I don’t think Mami heard him. He kept crying out that he had not done it, that he was innocent, that killing him would be murder, not justice. Even after they placed the hood over his face, Mami spent his last few breaths begging for his life.

There are barely any state executioners in Pakistan, despite having one of the world’s largest death rows. That day, he was not available. So instead, the jail warden pulled the lever. Before he did, he bowed his head and said, “I’m helpless Mami. I’m obligated to do this. If you can, please forgive me.”

You never forget the sound of a body being dropped into the pit. The way the beam creaks is not loud enough to drown out the choking, the sound of a bone breaking. The only dignity they give him, is that at least you cannot see his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he gasps for breath.

The power to take a life has a humbling effect on prison officials. They, too, are taken aback by what they have done. They would be less harsh with prisoners the next day. After all, they have also lost someone who they have seen day in, day out, often for years.

No job should require this much of you.

Sohail Yafat was falsely accused of murder in 2001. He spent ten years in jail before he was acquitted without any charge. Sohail narrated this story to Rimmel Mohydin, who put it in form of an article.

This article is last of a three-part series, curated in collaboration with Justice Project Pakistan, in lead up to The World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10th. Read the first part hereand the second here.