Archive for July 19th, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Taiwan Military: Placing their Orders

Concerns about Washington’s commitment to Taiwan’s security stretch beyond the pan-green camp. The China Post, KMT-leaning, writes:

As economic integration is likely to continue across the Taiwan Strait, if Taiwan has a sense of self confidence in its economic and military sectors, the United States should carefully take into consideration the impact of any further “strategic ambiguity” on its arms sales to Taiwan.

Taiwan needs to enhance its economic competitiveness through the United States, among others, but the island still needs to strengthen its military in order to raise the cost of coercion, ensure some degree of deterrence vis-a-vis China’s PLA and negotiate from a position of strength.

Germany’s weekly Die Zeit reports today that president Ma Ying-jeou instructed the ministry of defense to compile an  order list, including MK-54 torpedos, dozens of M1A2-Panzer and amphibian landing crafts.

Taiwan’s government may intend to test its American lifeline of arms supplies. On Wednesday, Taiwanlink recommended that

the Ma administration would be well-advised to submit a letter of request (LOR) for price and availability (P&A) data for 66 F-35B fighters to the Obama administration. And send a copy to the key staffers on the Hill to make sure they know that an LOR has been submitted.

They might be doing just that.

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Related
Taiwan’s Armed Forces Structure, Periscope, as of Nov 1, 2009

Update/Related
Hu pins ECFA with label of “anti-independence”, Liberty Times / That’s Impossible, July 19, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

India-Pakistan: a Case for a New Approach

All India Radio‘s (AIR) external service usually runs an enjoyable program in English for its overseas listeners. But sometimes, one could do without their news commentary – that’s when they are flooded with demands on how Pakistan should do its homework in making the region safer. Many of these demands may be entirely justified – but when it can make an outsider feel inundated with prayer wheel of serial complaints, actual recipients, and other regional listeners, may get bored.

Complaints about China building a string of pearls seem to ask for a comprehensive Indian strategy of its own, too, rather than bitching. To be “upset” may be a natural reaction. A naval (diplomacy)  strategy – in progress – may be a useful reaction. But while much of Sri Lanka’s cozy relations with Beijing can be attributed to America keeping its distance, given Colombo’s dismal human rights record, another factor, referred to as  India’s concept of its neighbors’ client states status by the Vancouver Sun‘s Jonathan Manthorpe, certainly plays a role, too. Using China for hedging purposes is a natural reaction from India’s neighbors.

India’s press is constantly full of advice. One that might catch the eyes these days is this one:

Bilateral talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan held in Islamabad on 15 July 2010 ended in an unseemly public spat at a press conference,

writes Arvind Gupta of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Delhi, and finds that the positions on both sides have hardened. India should engage with Pakistan’s real decisionmakers, suggests Gupta:

It is in the nature of India-Pakistan relations that emotions overtake reason and important issues are lost sight of. In the present episode, Qureshi is being held as a villain but the fact is that he is a minor player in the scheme of decision making in Pakistan. His demeanour may have played a role in the breakdown of the talks but that role would at best be minor. The real decision makers in Pakistan continue to be the army. The civilian government has little freedom, if any, in decision making. The Americans have understood this. They prefer to deal directly with the military. The dealings with the civilian authorities are only for the sake of form.

India needed to understand that while Pakistan’s army was no longer in charge of the country’s day-to-day affairs, it was still the key decisionmaker on strategic issues: policy on Afghanistan, India, US and China, writes Gupta.

Besides, once tempers had cooled, India should think about

reaching out to the non-official sections of Pakistani society. After all, Pakistanis talk to the Kashmiri separatists all the time in full public knowledge. Why can India not develop links with those sections of Pakistani society who may have views different from that of the government? India has legitimate interests in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is an integral part of India.

Whatever steps may be taken to improve India-Pakistani relations, smaller but tangible ones look more promising than big projects. On Monday, Kabul and Islamabad signed an agreement that would grant land-locked Afghanistan  transit through neighbouring Pakistan,  and therefore access to the sea, and – indirectly – markets in India. It might do regional security a lot of good – even if India is no immediate stakeholder in the deal.

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Related
“Military foiled Talks”, Hindustan Times, July 18, 2010
China’s Neighborhood, July 18, 2010
China, India Invest in Africa, FTKMC, June 28, 2010
“Reflecting the Diversity”, November 4, 2009
Nepal (Tag) »

Monday, July 19, 2010

Schützenfest

Schuetzenfest

Countryside Schuetzenfest

It’s the season again – first in the villages, and in the cities later in the year.

An enlightening (but abridged) video can be found here.

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