India China Detente Warning 

An IDC Analysis

New Delhi, 10 August 2004

In the past we had persisted with our assessment that the steadfast path of China since the 70s had been to see the India砲hina border settled along the Line of Actual Control 末 as articulated in its Peace and Tranquility deal. China will tire India down and also try to see that the Pakistan蜂ndia border is settled along the LOC. This way it will never have to discuss the small part of Indian land bequeathed to it by Pakistan 末 ensuring that India has no direct access to the Central Asian Oil and Gas.

China is likely to import more than 100 million tons of crude and 40 million tons of refined oil this year, according to a report by the Ministry of Commerce based upon first half numbers. The 20 percent rise in crude imports and the 40 percent increase in refined oil will account for roughly seven percent of Chinese imports for the year. China currently imports more than 33 percent of its oil, and has been steadily cutting its exports of crude and refined oil with decreases this year of more than 25 percent for each category.

China's GDP is already double that of India and it will need energy from Central Asia. Add to this that for both China and India, Pakistan is the key for transit of oil from Central Asia and Iran. China has Gwadar getting ready and India will have to think of oil and gas pipe lines from Central Asia via Afghanistan and from Iran all via Pakistan. Oil prices are soaring and sea transit of oil would be more costly. IDC presumes India's intelligence has done enough studies to caution Indian leadership of this and Dr Kelkar had started working on this long ago as Petroleum Secretary and India has invested in oil tracts in Russia, Viet Nam and Sudan. Yet that will not be enough.

Now K Subrahmanyam, India's leading strategic affairs expert, has cautioned India against reverting to the "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai" mood. While drawing appropriate lessons from the failure of "intelligence assessment" in the US and Britain, this is what he says about India. Also another leading strategic writer Chellaney has some advice and both articles are tabled as food for thought. India is in a bind to play with China for economic interests but must drive a hard and coherent bargain.

In India our politicians and senior bureaucrats assert their own ad hoc views in preference to collegiate assessments. Since this has become part of our political and bureaucratic culture there are no attempts to build expertise on intelligence assessment. The result may be seen in assertions by some politicians and retired bureaucrats who sing praises of Panchsheel, totally ignoring the fact that China had armed Pakistan with nuclear weapons and missiles.

Unfortunately too many bureaucrats and politicians in India, just as in the United States (in the latter the corporates are equally guilty), have become complacent about China 末 a trend that is as dangerous as compromising with the source of terrorism.

How is it that China which has hardly disguised its long term objective of showing both the US and India their place 末 the former out of Asia, and the latter boxed inside South Asia by an aggressive Pakistan aided by a liberal supply of Chinese WMDs 末 has so successfully been able to pull the wool over the eyes of so many seemingly intelligent people in both the countries? Enough material there for substantive Ph D work by a bright American or Indian student!

Mind Your IQ 末 Adequate Intelligence Is Not Enough, It Must Be Rigorously Assessed

By K. Subrahmanyam

The Indian Express, August 5, 2004

Recently three reports were issued dealing with shortcomings in the intelligence process the US Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Iraq, the Butler Committee Report in the UK and the 9/11 Commission Report in the US. Though the reports dealt with different subjects they all focussed on one common conclusion that intelligence assessment should be independent and autonomous and free of influence of the executive branch. The Senate Report was devastatingly critical of the CIA assessment on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. Though issued as a bipartisan report, the Democrats have implied that the CIA痴 assessment was influenced by pronouncements of political personalities and media hype. The Butler Committee has been critical of the way the assessment of the British Joint Intelligence Committee was used in the issue of the dossier on Iraqi WMDs in Parliament and to the public by omitting all the caveats in the assessment. The 9/11 Commission is of the view that the CIA director cannot do justice to three jobs at the same time. He cannot run the external intelligence agency, be in charge of intelligence assessment and also be intelligence adviser to the president. It therefore proposes the creation of the post of National Intelligence Director who will foresee the coordination of different intelligence agencies and also national intelligence centres which will be assessment bodies for different subjects.

The intelligence process comprises of collection, compilation, analysis and assessment. What reaches the national leadership is assessed intelligence which should lead to policy-making. A wrong assessment on Iraq having WMDs led to an uncalled for war on Iraq. As a senior senator pointed out, if the Senate had not been given such an assessment they would not have voted for war. Similarly, though the assessment of the British Joint Intelligence Committee had a number of caveats the dossier presented to Parliament created an impression of certainty not warranted by the assessment.

As the 9/11 Commission points out, there was uncertainty among top officials as to whether the Al-Qaeda activity was just a new and especially venomous version of ordinary terrorist threats the US had lived with for decades or whether it was indeed radically new, posing a threat beyond any yet experienced. In the absence of clarity of assessment, terrorism was not an overriding national security concern for the administration before 9/11.

If we are to draw an analogy in the Indian context we have to go back to 1962 and 1965. Contrary to popular view there was no failure in intelligence reporting. The failure was in intelligence assessment. I am in a position to assert this since I was asked to go into the question at that time. There was a stream of reports from the Intelligence Bureau about Chinese activity in Tibet. But individual reports which said so many Chinese soldiers with such and such equipment were seen moving south, east or west on such and such day at a specific time did not make any sense to the recipient of the intelligence reports. If they were plotted on a map and then assessed, a clear picture of Chinese build-up against certain points on our border emerged. Since the Joint Intelligence Committee of that time did not meet and did not carry out regular assessments, a myth was created that there was an intelligence failure. The truth was there was an assessment failure.

Similarly, in 1965 the Intelligence Bureau reported that Pakistan had raised a second armoured division. The army refused to accept the existence of the second Pakistani armoured division. Again the matter should have been subjected to assessment. Though the JIC was functioning this time, the issue was not subjected to rigorous assessment. The result was the surprise of our armed brigade having to face the Pakistani armoured division at Asal Uttar near Khem Karan.

In this country politicians and senior officials do not give adequate weight to assessment. In the light of the experience of 1962 and 1965 the JIC was upgraded and transferred from Chiefs of Staff Committee to the Cabinet Secretariat. In 1985 it was further upgraded with the chairman being made a secretary to the government. But the work of the JIC is considered so routine that the office has been converted into the secretariat of the National Security Council. The various shortcomings in assessment in the US mentioned in the 9/11 report turf rivalry among different agencies, lack of adequate communication among them and withholding of information, especially by agencies of the armed forces exist in our system too. To that extent the lessons derived by the 9/11 Commission in respect of the US are applicable for India too.

In the US the neoconservatives imposed their views on the assessment process in respect of Iraq. Since the CIA had built up the jihadis in Afghanistan in the 80s they, according to the 9/11 Commission, did not have sufficient imagination to conclude that those jihadis who were conditioned by the CIA to declare jihad against the Soviet Union were now waging jihad against the US. These are instances when well-informed and expert collegiate thinking is overridden by 堵roup think conditioned over a period of time.

In India our politicians and senior bureaucrats assert their own adhocist views in preference to collegiate assessments. Since this has become part of our political and bureaucratic culture there are no attempts to build expertise on intelligence assessment. The result may be seen in assertions by some politicians and retired bureaucrats who sing praises of Panchsheel, totally ignoring China arming Pakistan with nuclear weapons and missiles.

Attempts to make policy without a proper intelligence assessment of the external environment can never be successful. Ultimately the purpose of policy-making is to achieve one痴 objective against both domestic and external impediments to our progress. Usually only proper assessment will reveal the impediments. Ideologues are averse to assessment as they lack the flexibility and resilience needed to adjust to changing dynamics in external situations. That may explain why the neo-conservatives failed in the US and in India too there is a lot of resistance to realistic assessments from our ideologues both from the left and the right.

Drawing The Line With China

By Brahma Chellaney

NEW DELHI -- India and China have held regular border-related negotiations since 1981 in the longest such process between two nations since the end of World War II. Yet, after 23 years of negotiations, the two Asian giants have not achieved the bare minimum -- a mutually defined line of control separating them -- even as they deceptively call their disputed front line the "line of actual control."

The latest round of border negotiations in New Delhi on July 26 and 27 testified to the lack of real progress.

Since negotiations first began, China has emerged as a global economic and political force and strengthened its leverage vis-a-vis India, both directly and through transfers of weapons of mass destruction to Pakistan and strategic penetration of Myanmar.

As the negotiations have proceeded, Beijing has shown a weakening inclination to settle the border or even clarify the front line. This is because the unresolved, partially indistinct Himalayan frontier fits well with Chinese interests.

First, the status quo keeps India under strategic pressure. Second, it pins down, along the Himalayas, hundreds of thousands of Indian troops who otherwise would be available against China's "all-weather ally," Pakistan -- a "third party whose interests China cannot disregard" (as a Chinese official admitted at a "track 2" dialogue in Beijing). And third, it arms China with the option to turn on the military heat along the now-quiet frontier if India were to play the Tibet card or enter into a military alliance with the United States.

More importantly, China is sitting pretty on the upper heights, having gotten what it wanted, either by furtive encroachment in the 1950s or by conquest in 1962. It certainly sees no strategic imperative to accommodate India, a potential peer competitor. By persisting with the border dialogue with India and singing the virtues of give and take, Beijing seeks to influence Indian policy and conduct through engagement while looking to take more, such as the Buddhist Tawang region -- which China claims as a cultural-continuity extension of its annexation of Tibet.

Given these realities, a succession of Indian governments put priority on fully defining the line of control (LOC), even as they remained open to any Chinese proposal for an overall border settlement.

The complementary process of confidence building since the 1980s was pivoted on the elimination of ambiguities along the LOC to stabilize the military situation on the ground and ensure peace and tranquillity permanently. But with the Chinese dragging their feet on defining the line, the confidence-building process has overtaken the line-clarification process. The two countries, for example, farcically prohibit certain military activities at specific distances from the still-blurry line.

India and China are the only known neighbors not to be separated even by a mutually defined LOC, as their entire 4,000-km frontier is in dispute. By contrast, the India-Pakistan frontier is an international border -- except in Kashmir -- where a clearly delineated LOC exists.

China, by and large, has settled land-border disputes with its neighbors other than India. For one, its dispute with India involves larger tracts of territories than any other land-border problem. For another, China has a track record of clinching land-border settlements with declining states (except in the case of Vietnam) so that it can impose the majority of its claims, as it did with a rudderless Russia before Vladimir Putin and with three internally troubled Central Asian states.

It took China two decades of border talks with India before it agreed to exchange maps of just one segment -- the least-controversial middle sector. This step was to be followed up with a promised exchange of maps of the western sector in 2002, and finally of the eastern sector. The Chinese side reneged on its promise to exchange maps of the western and eastern sectors.

China also injected deliberate confusion by suggesting that the two sides abandon years of laborious efforts to define the LOC and instead focus on finding an overall border settlement. This was clearly a dilatory tactic intended to disguise its breach of promise: If Beijing is not willing to even clarify the LOC, why would it be willing to resolve the border problem through a package settlement?

Clarification of the LOC, after all, would not prejudice rival territorial claims. A border settlement, on the other hand, would be a complex process that would involve not only a resolution of territorial claims but also agreement on a clear-cut front line through a lengthy three-part process to define, delineate on maps and demarcate on the ground the border. Put simply, a disinclination to define the LOC translates into a greater aversion to clinch an overall border settlement.

Yet, in a surprise decision before being swept out of office in national elections, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided during a China visit to turn Indian policy on its head and shift the focus from LOC clarification to the elusive search for a border settlement. His concession to the hosts in agreeing to initiate a new framework of discussions between "senior representatives" has not only sidelined and stalled the process of clarifying the front line, but also taken India back to square one -- to discussing "principles" of a potential settlement, as the just-concluded discussions show.

A specialty of Chinese diplomacy has been to discuss and lay out "principles," and then interpret them to suit Beijing's convenience, as the past half-century bears out. It is incomprehensible that India would weaken its own negotiating strategy by diverting focus from the practical task of clarifying the LOC to a conceptual enunciation of "principles" to guide future talks.

The first requisite to good-neighborly relations is a defined front line. It is time India insisted on mutually clarifying the LOC with China. Otherwise, China will continue to take India round and round the mulberry tree.

(Brahma Chellaney is a professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.)