Archive for May, 2013

ISRAELI MILITARY CHIEF ISSUES STARK WARNING AFTER SYRIA, ISRAEL TRADE FIRE ACROSS BORDER

May 22, 2013

Fox News on May 21, 2013, published an AP report on Israeli and Syrian troops exchanging fire across their tense cease-fire line in the Golan Heights on Tuesday, prompting an Israeli threat that Syria’s leader will “bear the consequences” of further escalation and raising new concerns that the civil war there could explode into a region-wide conflict. Excerpts below:

The incident marked the first time the Syrian army has acknowledged firing intentionally at Israeli troops since the civil war erupted more than two years ago. President Bashar Assad’s regime appears to be trying to project toughness in response to three Israeli airstrikes near Damascus in recent months.

In the exchange, an Israeli jeep came under fire during an overnight patrol in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and later annexed. Syria claimed it destroyed the vehicle after it crossed the cease-fire line.

Israel said the jeep was on the Israeli side of the line and suffered minor damage, and no one was hurt. It said it returned fire at the source and scored a “direct hit.” It gave no further details.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, accused the Syrian leader of encouraging and directing operations against Israel. He said the Israeli patrol was targeted several times by a “clearly marked Syrian position.”

In his speech, he clearly alluded to the possibility that hostilities could erupt between Israel and Syria, which have fought several full-scale wars over the years and are bitter enemies.

“We will not allow the Golan Heights to become a comfortable space for Assad to operate from,” Gantz told a conference at the University of Haifa. “If he escalates (the situation on) the Golan Heights, he will have to bear the consequences.”

Gantz said the situation is extremely combustible, and “a day doesn’t go by” where there could be a “sudden uncontrollable deterioration.” He warned, “Instability will be the only stable thing that will happen here.”

Israel has been warily watching the Syrian civil war since it broke out in March 2011, fearing the conflict could spill across its borders at any time.

Israel is concerned that Assad, if he is facing defeat, might try to draw Israel into the fighting to divert attention away from his internal struggles.

Israel is also concerned that Assad’s arsenal of advanced arms, including chemical weapons, anti-aircraft systems and sophisticated missiles, could be transferred to Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon or fall into the hands of radical rebel groups.

Israeli expert on Syria, Moshe Maoz, said Israel’s powerful military is capable of toppling Assad while an outbreak of hostilities could potentially drag in Syria’s key allies, Iran and Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is already active in Syria, sending hundreds of fighters to back Assad’s troops.

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NIALL FERGUSON’S WARNING: ECONOMIC STAGNATION AND GEOPOLITICAL DECLINE OF THE WEST

May 21, 2013

Real Clear Politics on November 26, 2012, reported on author and historian Niall Ferguson telling CNN that laws are becoming more cumbersome and hurting Western economies. Excerpts below:

Ferguson: It’s unsustainable over the long term, the United States, for example, unless it radically changes its fiscal policy, even with the benefits of cheaper energy. We’ll find that by the middle of this century, all tax revenues will be absorbed by interest payments on the debt. Which is obviously impossible, so something’s got to give. And it will give. I mean, at some point, Americans will have to choose, it may even happen quite soon, between increasing their taxes in a pretty major way, to keep pace with the expenditure that the federal government has been engaging in for the last five or six years,..

Stevens: What, then, is the restructuring that’s needed in the West?

Ferguson: Well, I think the most important thing to recognize is that it’s not just about taxing and spending. If you define this too narrowly — in fiscal terms — then you end up in the mess that Southern Europe is in; trying to balance the budget, even as your economy is shrinking. It’s better, I think, to ask questions of a more profound nature about the institutional framework within which society operates. To me, one of the biggest contrasts between the West and the rest is that things like the rule of law — regulation, bureaucracy — are getting more problematic, more burdensome in Western countries,…

Stevens: You mean they’re getting in the way of development?

Ferguson: Yeah, they really are… one of the arguments I make in my new book, The Great Degeneration, is that the rule of law in the United States has become the rule of lawyers. The legal profession has become a very major source of cost for business. You have a combination of excessively complex regulations and a rather parasitic legal profession, and it battens off the private sector. It’s almost impossible for any financial enterprise to operate in the U.S. without a massive compliance department — teams of lawyers. And that is really a dead cost — it doesn’t add anything to the activity of the economy…

Why is our regulation so over-complicated? Why does the tax code occupy shelves, rather than just a few pages? And why is it that if you want to regulate the financial sector, you need a bill that is 2000-plus pages long? If we could strive for greater simplicity and transparency in the tax code and most regulation, I think there would be real benefits.

Stevens: Do you think the fiscal cliff will become a reality?

Ferguson: I think there is a short term risk that for political advantage the President may try to get the Republicans to look like they pushed the economy over the fiscal cliff. This is very complex political game play that are going on here. And it is risky — for political advantage, the Democrats may in fact be quite happy to go over the fiscal cliff, if the Republicans can be blamed for it.

Note:

NIALL FERGUSON is one of the world’s most renowned historians. In 2012 he published his latest work, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die. Ferguson is also the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money,HighFinancier, and Civilization.

He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a senior research fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a senior research fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is also a regular contributor to Newsweek and Bloomberg television.

The decline and degeneration of the West is something that has long been prophesied. Symptoms of decline are all around us today, it seems: slowing growth, crushing debts, aging populations, anti-social behaviour. But what exactly is amiss with Western civilization? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, is that our institutions – the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail – are degenerating. Representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society: these were once the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance after around 1500.

In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our markets are increasingly distorted by over-complex regulations that are in fact the disease of which they purport to be the cure. The rule of law has metamorphosed into the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all our problems to be solved by the state.

“The Degeneration of the West” is a powerful – and in places polemical – indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy, and while China may be moving from economic liberalization to the rule of law, Europeans and Americans alike are frittering away the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the degeneration of the West’s once dominant civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

The new book is based on Niall Ferguson’s 2012 BBC Reith Lectures, which were broadcast under the title “The Rule of Law and Its Enemies”.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU THREATENS MORE ISRAELI STRIKES ON SYRIA

May 20, 2013

Daily Telegraph, London, on May 19 2013 reported that Benjamin Netanyahu raised the prospect of further Israeli strikes on Syria today, amid claims that Bashar al-Assad’s regime has installed high-tech weapons aimed at hitting Tel Aviv. Excerpts below:

The Israeli prime minister said his government would act “with determination” to prevent arms being transferred from Syria to Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shia group, which last week claimed it would soon acquire “game changing” weapons to attack Israel.

“The government of Israel is working responsibly and with determination and sagacity, in order to ensure the supreme interest of the State of Israel… to… prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbollah and to [other] terrorist elements,” Mr Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. “We will work to ensure Israelis’ security interest in the future as well.”

The Israeli air force is widely assumed to have been responsible for two raids this month that targeted weapons stocks in Syria supposedly destined for Hizbollah..

Mr Netanyahu said the Middle East was in the midst of “one of its most sensitive periods in decades with the escalating upheaval in Syria at its centre”.

The Sunday Times reported that the missiles – which can carry a half-ton pay load – had been monitored by Israeli reconnaissance satellites.

PRO-ASSAD SYRIAN HACKERS ATTACK FINANCIAL TIMES WEBSITE

May 19, 2013

The Washington Times on May 17, 2013, reported that the pro-Syria regime group, Syrian Electronic Army, hacked into the news site and Twitter feed of the Financial Times. Excerpts below:

The group, which supports President Bashar Assad, uploaded a video purportedly showing members of the rebel group, Nusra Front — tied to al Qaeda — blindfolding and executing soldiers with the Syrian army, Newsmax reported.

Other items that were hacked on the site: Stories had headlines that were replaced by the statement, “Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army.” And messages on the Financial TimesTwitter feed read, “Do you want to know the reality of the Syrian ‘Rebels?’ — which then linked to the video of the executed soldiers.

RUSSIA SLAMMED BY US FOR SENDING ANTI-SHIP MISSILES TO SYRIA

May 18, 2013

Fox News on May 17, 2013 published an AP report that the Obama administration is criticizing Russia’s decision to provide Syria with anti-ship missiles, which it says will only worsen the civil war. Excerpts below:

The Obama administration denounced Russia for providing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime with anti-ship missiles, saying the weapons would only worsen a war that Washington and Moscow have been promising to work together on stopping.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized what he called an “unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering.” He spoke at a news conference after the New York Times reported that Russia recently delivered an advanced version of Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also urged Russia to rethink its military aid, saying that the U.S. and Russia both wanted to stabilize Syria after more than two years of civil war but that the Kremlin’s military support makes the situation even more dangerous.

Dempsey’s comments, in particular, seemed to contradict that of the State Department, where spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the U.S. was aware of no “new shipments” of the weapons.

Almost immediately after last week’s announcement by Kerry and Lavrov of a new peace push, Israeli officials warned that Moscow was preparing to give Assad state-of-the-art ground-to-air missile systems in the coming months.

Both sets of missiles would only add to the administration’s reservations as it evaluates a range of options, including military ones, to break the stalemate in Syria’s civil war and respond to evidence that Assad’s forces used small amounts of chemical weapons in two attacks in March.

The cruise missiles and the new surface-to-air batteries would significantly upgrade the Assad regime’s capacity to target manned planes, drones and incoming missiles after its systems were easily circumvented in 2007 when Israeli jets bombed a suspected nuclear reactor site along the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria.

Apparently successful Israeli strikes in recent weeks on weapons convoys to Hezbollah show the Syrian defenses are still far from impregnable, but the new weaponry would make it harder for United States to consider enforcing a no-fly zone in the country or otherwise intervening militarily.

CHINA VS. USA AND JAPAN ON OKINAWA

May 17, 2013

The Washington Times on May 16, 2013, reported that China is challenging a key American policy toward Japan: the unambiguous U.S. support of Japan’s sovereign rights to the Ryukyu island chain, including the key strategic island of Okinawa. Excerpts below:

The United States does not officially take sides in disputes between China and Japan over the hotly disputed Senkaku Islands, also called the Diaoyu, but Washington repeatedly and unequivocally has recognized Japan’s sovereign rights over the Ryukyu Islands. Thousands of U.S. troops are stationed on Okinawa as America’s forward deployment force in the Asia-Pacific region. The island is considered a strategic base for resupply efforts in case of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

China recently issued a direct challenge to Japan’s claim of sovereignty over the Ryukyus and the U.S. government’s support of Japan’s position. On May 8, the People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, published a sensational and long article headlined: “Not only do we want to take Diaoyu Dao back, but also the Ryukyus are open for discussion.”

As if the article were not explosive enough, military commentator Gen. Luo Yuan of the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences weighed in through official Chinese media to belabor the point that China owns the Ryukyus. The official communist newspaper Global Times on the same day reported on Gen. Luo’s comment under the blunt headline: “The Ryukyus belong to China, never to Japan.”

The general is one of China’s best-known strategists. The Chinese media, including the People’s Daily and the Global Times, frequently identify him as an active-duty major general, but he actually may be retired. Gen. Luo often expresses hawkish views in official media, frequently with extreme loathing toward the United States. He is the son of Luo Qingchang, an intelligence chief for Mao Zedong.

During World War II, the Japanese islands in the Ryukyu chain became a serious obstacle to the allies’ military advance toward the Japanese homeland.

After the Okinawa campaign, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in June 1945 decided to exclude the strategically important Ryukyu Islands south of the 30th parallel from Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s postwar administration of Japan, and placed those islands directly under U.S. military control.

In 1951, the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed between Japan and the 48 victorious Allied nations, placed the Japanese islands in the Ryukyu chain south of the 29th parallel under a U.N. trusteeship.

The treaty appointed the United States “as the sole administering authority” with the “right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands, including their territorial waters.”

When the treaty took effect on April 28, 1952, it recognized Japan’s “potential sovereign claim,” if not administrative right, over these islands.

In March 1962, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order and announced: “I recognize the Ryukyus to be a part of the Japanese homeland and look forward to the day when the security interests of the free world will permit their restoration to full Japanese sovereignty.”

Seven years later, Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and President Richard M. Nixon issued a joint communique in Washington that set the stage for the full return of Okinawa to Japan, which regained sovereignty of the islands in 1972.

Responding to the People’s Daily article, Okinawa Gov. Kirokazu Nakaima called the Chinese claims “ridiculous.”

The Japanese government issued a “stern protest” to Beijing about the article and asked for clarification.

“We cannot under any circumstances accept the People’s Daily article if it reflects the Chinese government’s view,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was quoted as saying.

AIR-BREATHING ENGINE IN BOEING’S X-51A WAVE RIDER MAY PAVE WAY FOR MACH 20 PLANES

May 16, 2013

Fox News on May 9, 2013, reported in detail on Boeing’s X-51A WaveRider — a jet-fueled, air-breathing hypersonic rocket developed for the U.S. Air Force — that went hypersonic during a recent test off the Southern California coast, flying at more than five times the speed of sound. Excerpts below:

A Silver Surfer-style, air-breathing engine defied naysayers with its triumphant recent test reaching Mach 5 — that’s an astonishing mile per second, or nearly 4,000 miles per hour– smashing its own previous time in flight record.

At Edwards Air Force Base on Wednesday, May 1, Boeing’s WaveRider made the longest hypersonic flight to date, flying for three minutes and smashing its own 2010 record. The air-breathing engine that powered the X-51A WaveRider could be key…to travelling coast to coast in under 40 minutes…

The government has high hopes for this type of hypersonic engine, and defense agency DARPA is looking to push the tech further, with plans to invest more than $90 million into the hypersonics programs over the next two years.

One goal is to provide global-range, maneuverable, hypersonic flight at a mind-warping Mach 20. In 2014, DARPA plans to launch the Small Responsive Space Access X-Plane to mature the technology inexpensively, for quick reaction not just anywhere on the globe but also in space.

Often described as a surfboard that rides its own self-created sonic wave, the X-51A Waverider does look sort of like the Silver Surfer’s mode of travel. It’s actually an unmanned scramjet-powered experimental aircraft.

It weighs approximately 4,000 pounds with a fuel capacity about 270 pounds and currently has a ceiling of more than 70,000 feet.

The WaveRider’s engine doesn’t require its own oxygen supply and instead harvests the air as it flies through the atmosphere.

Due to the novel method of combustion, its current take-off doesn’t look like a traditional Cape Canaveral launch. Instead it uses a booster rocket to get to hypersonic speed, before the scramjet takes over and does its stuff.

The fourth test produced a triumph, successfully demonstrating not just the revolutionary engine, but also high temperature materials, airframe and engine integration at hypersonic speeds.

NASA’s experimental unmanned NASA’s X-43A scramjet still holds onto the bragging rights on the speed front, however. It set the world speed record for a jet-powered aircraft — recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records — at Mach 9.6, or nearly 7,000 mph.

WaveGlider’s recent record-setting is important not just for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, but for further establishing the bedrock of the hypersonic tech of the future.

With air-breathing engines, future space travel could be faster and cheaper, in part due to the potential for reducing the absurdly heavy onboard liquid oxygen weight currently necessary to make that journey from earth to space.

Air-breathing engines could allow for far larger payloads revolutionizing cargo transport to space and between points at home.

On earth, the speed of U.S. Air Force aircraft could be unmatched, and commercial air travel immensely accelerated — making the Concorde look positively prehistoric.

Pratt & Whitney is developing a suite of hypersonic propulsion system technologies that have defense potential well beyond aircraft.

This next stage hypersonic speed could be very useful for time-critical missions, and give the U.S. unprecedented speed in global strike.

CHINA JOINS ARCTIC COUNCIL

May 15, 2013

BBC News on May 15, 2013, reported that China is one of a number of countries that has gained permanent observer status on the Arctic Council. Excerpts below:
At a meeting in Sweden, the eight members of the Council accepted India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

However following dissent from Canada, a decision on the EU’s application has been deferred.

The opening up of the Arctic to shipping and oil and gas exploitation has fuelled worldwide interest in the region.

With a changing climate allowing ships to travel more cheaply and quickly across the Northern route, Asian countries with ship building industries are particularly interested in closer links to the region and the Council.

The Arctic Council was set up in the 1990s and has been mainly concerned with environmental matters including climate change and pollution, both of which are being felt more heavily in the Northern regions.

It has eight permanent members made up of the five coastal Arctic countries, Norway, Russia, Canada, US and Denmark – it also includes three other non coastal members, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

It has limited powers, issuing non binding protocols on member states – but as the ice recedes and the wider exploitation of the region becomes possible, the rest of world has taken notice and wants to be involved.

Now the Council has accepted some of the world’s most important emerging powers into what has been dubbed the “coldrush club”, a name that reflects the opportunities many see for the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the region.

Up to 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits are said to lie above the Arctic Circle.

The meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, also agreed on a new manual that will govern the activities and roles of the observers. They will not be able to directly raise issues but will have to bring them forward through one of the eight core members.

But the Council was unable to agree on the application from the European Union.

The growing interest of countries like China and India in joining the Arctic Council reflects the changing nature of the body say observers. Another decision that reflects the beefing up of the Council’s activities was the acceptance of an oil spill preparation plan.

According to the Council this legally-binding agreement will substantially improve procedures for dealing with oil leaks in the Arctic.

Leiv Lunde is the director of the and a former special envoy on energy and climate change at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He says that the role of Council in the world is growing significantly.

“The Arctic Council has until now been an organisation for the environmental sectors of government – but you are moving into an area where there are bound to be tradeoffs and big fights about what will going to happen,” he said.

U.S. LAW AIMED AT HELPING NORTH KOREAN ORPHANS

May 14, 2013

CNN on May 13, 2013, reported that North Korean orphans who make it to South Korea could be considered relatively lucky. They are provided an education, a path to South Korean citizenship and even a chance at adoption. Excerpts below:

But many North Korean children do not have similar opportunities. Some are in orphanages in their homeland; others make it out of North Korea, only to find themselves stateless and in hiding in China or other countries.

In January, President Obama signed into law a measure designed to help these children. The North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012 calls for the U.S. State Department to advocate for the “best interests” of North Korean children.

This in s helping reunite family members who’ve escaped North Korea, as well as facilitating adoption for clude North Korean children living outside their homeland without parental care.

But it could be years before Americans are able to adopt any of these children.

The act does not lay out a roadmap for making adoptions or family reunions possible. Rather, it tasks the State Department with making regular reports to Congress on challenges facing North Korean children and developing a strategy to address them.

“Hundreds of thousands of North Korean children suffer from malnutrition in North Korea,” the act reads, and many of them “may face statelessness in neighboring countries.”

In addition to North Korean orphans, the law also refers to children with one North Korean parent — many of whom are born in China from a Chinese-North Korean relationship. Because of the illegal status of North Koreans in China, such children may not be recognized by China or North Korea, rendering them stateless.

Also, they may not have proper registration in China, which is crucial for social services and education, according to human rights organizations.

The new law also calls for the State Department to work with the South Korean government to establish pilot programs to assist in the family reunification of North Korean children.

The South Korean government’s Ministry of Unification wrote in an e-mail to CNN: “If the U.S. government makes a detailed proposal regarding this pilot project in the future, we can decide on whether we will go on with the project after examining various factors.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF DIEGO GARCIA IN U.S. INDIAN OCEAN STRATEGY

May 12, 2013

Journal Asian Security in vol. 6, no. 3, 2010, published the article “Diego Garcia and the United States’ Emerging Indian Ocean Strategy”. Since 2010 Diego Garcia has become the core of the United States strategy in the Indian Ocean to be compared to the importance of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. Excerpts below:

As the world’s economic and strategic “center of gravity” shifts from the Euro-Atlantic area to the Asia-Pacific, the Indian Ocean is emerging as an increasingly critical trade and energy conduit. This region has long been a strategic backwater for the United States. Moreover, unlike in other critical subregions of Asia, the United States lacks significant host-nation bases and is unlikely to acquire them.

The British territory of Diego Garcia, whose location and political reliability give it significant strategic utility, is thus central to US power projection in the Indian Ocean littoral region. The US military’s approach to Diego Garcia reflects an implicit Indian Ocean strategy that seeks to establish a flexible and enduring presence within a critical and contested space. However, Washington needs to move toward an explicit Indian Ocean policy that views the region holistically rather than narrowly viewing separate US Pacific Command, US Central Command, and US Africa Command theaters.

The United States faces a growing contradiction in some of the world’s most strategically vital areas. The number of land-based US forces in the Middle East and South Asia is expected to shrink over time, even as counterinsurgency activities there remain a long-term priority.


…barring an unprecedented erosion of grand strategic ambitions, access to regional bases and other military facilities will be essential for American power projection and influence.

Maintaining US presence throughout the broader Indian Ocean littoral regiondepends on identifying enduring US interests in the region and developing a strategy to pursue those interests.

According to Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US “strategy supports the development of a tailored posture in the broader Middle East and Central and South Asia, promotes a peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific region, and reaffirms our commitment to NATO and Europe.”

The security situation in the Indian Ocean region, long characterized by uncertain relations between its major power brokers, is prone to strategic miscalculation. More thanever before, the interests of the United States, India, and China all coincide and collide in the Indian Ocean littoral. These key states, one predominant and the others ascendant, may find themselves at odds as they protect national interests in a region with great potential and numerous challenges, including:

• volatile and fragile states, which are often beset by, and sometimes facilitate, irregular threats, irredentist powers, sectarian divides, and religious tensions;

• a rich flow of resources through constrained and vulnerable shipping lanes;

• often skittish host nations; and

• newly capable actors possibly seeking to undermine others’ influence by sustained projection of power.

It has been widely argued that the world is undergoing a significant geopolitical realignment as the global “center of gravity” shifts from the Euro-Atlantic to the greater Asia-Pacific. The National Intelligence Council envisions fast developing powers, notably India and China, joining the United States atop a multipolar international system. As India and China continue to accrete military might, they pull this zero point – where no forces dominate – toward the Indian Ocean. In such a dynamic Asian Security international environment, the United States will have to adapt its geostrategic focus if it hopes to retain its position of global preeminence in the twenty-first century.

This is particularly true in the maritime dimension, where the US Navy guarantees the free flow of goods at sea worldwide. To maintain its preponderant position, the United States will have to shift its geostrategic focus from the Euro-Atlantic, which, after decades of American attention, is prosperous, secure, and self-sustaining, to regions of the world that were once dismissed as peripheral to American interests. One such area is the Indian Ocean, the littoral of which is emerging as a key strategic region in the “Asian Century.”

Most importantly, America’s forward bases facilitate the projection of US power around the globe, and in the post–Cold War strategic environment, access to such facilities has become more tenuous. Yet, maintaining the security of the sea lanes and the free flow of goods transiting the Indian Ocean requires a sustained US maritime presence.

In such an environment, American interests are best served by the cultivation of a regional presence for strike and deterrence that does not depend on the acquiescence of local governments responding to sometimes volatile public sentiment.

At the center, Diego Garcia offers politically unconstrained access.

Elsewhere in the region, the United States should attempt to reduce political risks:

By basing in small, politically stable nations at the periphery of troubled areas that have strong geopolitical reasons to ally with America, and under any circumstances away from major cities. Qatar, with its rich gas reserves abutting those of Iran, its majority population of non-Qatari citizens, and its ongoing border dispute with Saudi Arabia, is thus well placed to host CENTCOM’s Middle East Operations Center at al-Udeid Air Base. Larger bases should be supplemented with multiple, redundant, forwardoperating locations, as the United States enjoys in Bahrain and Singapore.

With such a flexible constellation of bases and other facilities in place, US strategists must shield these bases and the larger region from any interference by state and substate actors, both physically and politically. In doing so, the United States must avoid an insular approach and craft a coherent Indian Ocean policy that accounts for the reactions of India and China as well as the interests of its regional partners. That approach will strengthen US command of the commons in partnership with India and may open ways to engage with China in the Indian Ocean.

A direct evaluation of Indian Ocean policy, which could assist in taking a holistic view of the Indian Ocean littoral and the unique aspects of Indian Ocean security rather than narrowly viewing separate PACOM, CENTCOM and AFRICOM theaters, is long overdue.

The United States must augment its regional knowledge, enhance coordination, and for the first time, consider the Indian Ocean holistically as a vital strategic space with a networked basing arrangement at its core.