This is a review of “The Spy Chronicles” (not by me, but by our regular contributor Dr Hamid Hussain), a recent book co-authored by two former chiefs of ISI (the Pakistani intelligence agency) and RAW (the Indian intelligence agency). The book has generated some controversy (a lot of it far-fetched and irrational) and the Pakistani author (Retired General Asad Durrani) has been called to GHQ to provide an explanation and has been barred from leaving the country until an enquiry (conducted by a 3 star general) has been conducted.
The review is by Dr Hamid Hussain.
The full title is: Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace. A. S. Dulat, Assad Durrani and Aditya Sinha (Delhi: Harper Collins), 2018.
This book is neither a memoir nor an organized attempt to explain a theory. It is essentially a transcript of conversations. It covers India Pakistan relations, Kashmir, Afghanistan and other general regional and international topics. Two informed individuals from rival countries engaged in a candid conversation and some of their views are not fully in line with the official stance of their respective countries.
In view of unresolved issues between India and Pakistan, there have been several international attempts to bring high former officials of both countries together for dialogue. One effort was to bring former intelligence officials of both countries together. This effort called ‘Intel Dialogue’ was organized by the University of Ottawa. Dulat and Durrani met each other during these ‘Track II’ efforts and developed a kind of friendship. Continue reading “Review: The Spy Chronicles”
Welcome back Mahathir Mohamad, our favorite 92 year old PM of Malaysia! Malaysia was one of the centers of the great Arya civilization for thousands of years; now enriched by Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, Islam, and expats the world over. One of the most diverse and immigration friendly countries in the world. One of the most pro business, pro capitalist, pro globalization, pro neo-liberal, pro enlightenment values, and pro moderate Islam countries in the world. A country that fought against the full might of the Soviet Union, China and the global communist block and won. A shining city on a hill. A self assured, self confident Asian Tiger without inferiority complex. One of last great bastions resisting the global post modernist wave.
General Bell himself, who said “we estimated that we killed one-sixth of the population of the main island of Luzon—some 600,000 people.” (There is another Bell, George who also fought in the Philippines ). Also see Gore Vidals reply on comment questioning the numbers.
The Philadelphia Ledger November 1901 their Manila correspondent wrote “The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog…
“Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.”
Another Marine officer described his testimony.
“The major said that General Smith instructed him to kill and burn, and said that the more he killed and burned the better pleased he would be; that it was no time to take prisoners, and that he was to make Samar a howling wilderness. Major Waller asked General Smith to define the age limit for killing, and he replied “everyone over ten.”
Mark Twain wrote
“…I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the philippines. we have gone to conquer, not to redeem… and so i am an anti-imperialist. i am opposed to having the [american] eagle put its talons on any other land.”
On 15th of October 1900 Twain wrote the New York Times.
“We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag. And so, by these providences of god — and the phrase is the government’s, not mine — we are a World Power.” — Mark Twain
Please read the whole Post. Interesting pictures. Also President McKinley ‘s Christian reasons for the war.
“In Turkey, we have marriage of Islam and democracy. The child of this marriage is secularism. This child gets sick from time to time. The Turkish armed forces are the doctor which saves the child. Depending on how sick the child is, we administer the necessary medicine to make sure the child recuperates”. General Cevik Bir; former Deputy Chief of General Staff of Turkish army
Turkish Armed Forces (known by the Turkish initials TSK – Turk Silahli Kuvvetleri) have gone through a dramatic change in the last two years. In July 2016, a faction of TSK tried and failed to bring back TSK on the center stage of Turkey. This failed coup attempt was the result of rapidly deteriorating relations between ruling Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials AKP – Adalat ve Kalkinma Partisi) and TSK spanning over fifteen years.
TSK assigned itself the role of the guardian of the state and Kemalist tradition. TSK had a key role in making decisions about national security, economy and foreign relations. Supreme Military Council (known by its Turkish initials YAS – Yuksek Askari Shura) was the instrument used for military’s dominance. Civilian bureaucracy and judiciary dominated by secular elite were junior partners of TSK
In 1997, TSK forced removal of Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan what was later called ‘post-modern coup’. In 2000, AKP came to power and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan gradually increased his power while avoiding direct conflict with powerful army. There was now conflict between two power centers. AKP didn’t have qualified cadres to control state bureaucracy. Erdogan made an alliance with cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen’s organization Hizmet has been focused on excellence in education for three decades. Gulenist sympathizers joined state bureaucracy especially police and judiciary. Repeated electoral successes of AKP with control of legislature combined with penetration of state structure by Gulenist sympathizers strengthened the civilian hand. They now felt confident to confront TSK and snatch back some powers.
Gulenist sympathizers in police and judiciary embarked on an ambitious plan of state restructuring by clipping the wings of TSK. Several former and later serving officers were accused of plotting coups. Hundreds of officers were charged, arrested and prosecuted in two notorious alleged conspiracies; Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer). Later, hundreds of officers including high ranking officers were convicted and sentenced to long prison sentences. TSK was gradually losing its internal cohesion due to emergence of various factions. Senior officers lost the confidence of junior officers for failing to protect officer corps from real and imagined conspiracies propagated by pro AKP and pro Gulenist media houses and large-scale arrests of officers.
A group of second and third tier TSK officers decided to strike before Erdogan further clipped TSK wings in upcoming August 2016 YAS meeting. Elements from major army formations, special forces, army headquarters, air force and helicopter pilots and naval officers were involved in the coup attempt. TSK senior brass was not in the loop. Headquarter of coup plotters was at Akinci air force base.
On 15 July afternoon, a helicopter pilot Osman Karaca went to MIT headquarters to warn about impending coup. MIT chief Hakan Fidan informed head of military police and later army chief General Hulusi Akar. General Akar issued orders banning military flights over Turkish air space and prohibited movement of armored vehicles. This upset the original coup launch time of 3 am July 16. Coup plotters moved the time to 8:30 pm July 15. This proved to be a fatal error as streets were bustling and Erdogan was able to rally his supporters. Major General Mehmet Disli of strategic planning branch at General headquarters went to Akar’s office informing him that coup was in motion and asking him to take charge. When angry Akar refused, he was arrested and flown to Akinci air base.
Coup plotters bombed Turkish parliament building and police headquarters. Erdogan made the courageous move of flying back to Istanbul and asking his supporters to come out in streets. Protestors confronted soldiers on the streets. Coup attempt failed in few hours and government forces quickly restored order. Erdogan on landing at Istanbul airport declared that ‘if we accept that everything happens for a reason, then this uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be the reason to cleanse our army’. He truly cleansed the armed forces by sacking and arresting thousands of officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs). Almost half of flag rank officers of Turkish army, air force and navy were sacked.
Deeply suspicious of the army, Erdogan closed all military colleges and academies and transferred several military institutions including hospitals and business interests of TSK to civilian control. To counter military’s coercive power, he has strengthened police special forces, paramilitary forces and civilian intelligence. In Syria, during recent operations against Syrian Kurds, army was used only initially especially tanks but later police special forces and Gendarmerie were deployed on Syrian territory. Erdogan has also expanded the role of private security contractors to fill the security gap. He hired retired Brigadier Adnan Tanriverdi as his military advisor. Adnan was retired in 1997 on suspicion of having Islamist leanings. In 2012, he started a private security firm SADAT.
In the aftermath of the coup, Erdogan had two choices. A transparent trial of accused officers and strict punishments or using failed coup attempt to silence all opposition. Unfortunately, he embarked on the later course with large scale sacking and arrest of not only army personnel but civilian bureaucracy, police and judiciary. In addition, all opposition including Gulenist sympathizers and Kurds are on the receiving end. Hundreds of academics were sacked and many journalists have been arrested and large media houses taken over by the government. This has divided Turkey right in the middle. Half of Turkey hates and other half loves Erdogan. This is a recipe for long term instability. In this environment, it is inevitable that this polarization will affect TSK. It will take more than a decade to restructure TSK on professional grounds while at the same time keep it under civilian control.
This article is based on author’s talk at The Democracy Forum in London on 19 March 2018.
Russel Spurr was a British-Australian journalist who spent most of his life reporting from East Asia (20 years in Hong Kong), during which time he made many trips to China and Taiwan and interviewed multiple veterans of the Chinese intervention in Korea to write what was probably the first book covering the Korean war from the Chinese perspective (published in 1988). The book (Enter the Dragon. China’s undeclared war against the US in Korea 1950-51) provides a great introduction to the “other side” of the Korean conflict. Writing in journalistic style, he freely recreates conversations and scenes that obviously rely on accounts of survivors as well as his own imagination, but that does not mean he has not done his research. He knows his history and the bare facts are always accurate. And whatever the book lacks in typical military history details, it more than makes up in the form of vivid anecdotes that really bring the war to life. Continue reading “Review: Enter the Dragon. China’s undeclared war against the US in Korea”
This topic comes up every once in a while on twitter and I always regret having lost my old post about it when the old Brownpundits crashed and burned. So I just looked up a cached copy and am reposting it (with slight editing) so that it is available whenever another young Pakistani officer announces that we were robbed of a great victory in Kashmir by Nawaz Sharif (I am not kidding).
First, some links with details about the operations:
Back in 1999 I thought that Musharraf should have been dismissed and prosecuted for his role in the affair, but I also bought into the propaganda that the operation was a “great tactical success but a strategic blunder”. As time went on and more details came out, it became clear that the planning at the tactical level was as bad as the stupidities and mistaken assumptions that underlay the strategic vision of General Musharraf and inner coterie and in particular the commander of Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA), General Javed Hassan.
The men (primarily Northern Light Infantry (NLI) and Special Services Group (SSG) volunteers) who did the actual fighting from the Pakistani side performed with suicidal bravery, but once the Indian army learned from its early mistakes and brought all its resources to bear on the operation, these brave men were left to literally starve and bleed to death while Javed Hassan and his boss tried to bluster their way past their disastrous mistake. Musharraf’s coup protected the plotters from facing any consequences within Pakistan and a systematic disinformation campaign was used to crease (not just in Pakistan but also in some casual observers and Anatol Leiven level analysts abroad) an impression of tactical brilliance. The above reports provide a good corrective and one hopes that the day may still come when Musharraf and Javed Hassan will face the music for their role in this terrible disaster…a disaster that led to hundreds of needless deaths on both sides in an operation that civilian prime minister Benazir was able to see as “crazy” at first glance. Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif was not that sharp…
Given how long it takes most armies to learn from their mistakes during the course of a battle, the Indian commanders on the spot deserve some credit for belying stereotypes and actually thinking and adapting while the battle was on. The British Indian army was a fine fighting force, but not one known for innovation and flexible thinking. Either India got lucky in a few officers on the spot (e.g. artillery commander Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh and GOC 8 mountain div General Puri http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/kargil-a-ringside-view/0/) or it really does have a better culture of officership than its mother army did.
Anyway, take a moment to read the above reports and links for details, but the main point is that it was not even a “tactical success”. It was poorly planned and once the Indian army found its feet, leaving those men out on the peaks to die was hardly a sign of brilliant tactical execution. The basic TACTICAL assumptions that proved wrong were:
1. The heights, once occupied, could be held by small groups for at least the entire summer.
2. Those men could be resupplied under fire for several months with food, water and ammunition, using mountain trails and helicopters.
3. The Indian army was incapable of attacking from any direction except straight up the front slopes, where they would be cut down like grass.
4. And behind it all, the firm conviction that while “our boys” will exhibit the required suicidal bravery, the other side will not.
All these assumptions proved wrong. After some early charges that failed with heavy casualties (but also showed that Indian troops were perfectly capable of suicidal bravery of their own) the Indian army figured out how to use its artillery to great effect and went up near vertical slopes at night under cover of accurate artillery fire and recaptured crucial heights. They also managed to interdict most of the resupply effort, leaving many freezing Pakistani troops exposed on the heights without food or water. There is no evidence that either Javed Hassan or Musharraf made any real effort to come up with new solutions once their original assumptions proved wrong. Musharraf seems to have focused mostly on making sure the blame could be pinned on Nawaz Sharif, and that some sort of domestic (or intra-army) propaganda victory could be salvaged from the disaster.
The status quo is indeed in India’s favor by now. The critical period for India was the early nineties. Once they got past that, they were never going to be kicked out of Kashmir by force; and by using outside Jihadis and then the regular army and failing to dislodge them, Pakistan has already played all its cards. Another attempt could set the whole subcontinent aflame, but is not likely to change that outcome.
The fact that Kashmiri Muslims (or at least, Kashmiri Muslims in the Kashmir valley proper) remain thoroughly disaffected with India provides some people with the hope that human rights and democracy campaigners can win where brute force did not. But this too seems unlikely. The same Kashmiri Muslims are almost as disaffected with Pakistan as they are with India, so that the main demand seems now to be independence. But the demographics, geography, history and international situation of Kashmir all make any smooth passage to independence inconceivable. Inconceivable in the literal sense of the world; what I mean is, try to conceive or imagine in concrete detail what this independence would look like and the steps via which it would be achieved. Enuff said.
He did back away a bit after other army officers accused him of washing the army’s dirty linen in public, but the damage was done.
By now, the cat is well out of the bag though. Here is Brigadier Javed Hussain from the Pakistan army making exactly the same points..
And now we have General Asad Durrani, former ISI chief (and the SOB who said on BBC TV that the thousands of Pakistani civilians, including school children, killed by the Taliban and other Jihadists are “collateral damage” and we have to accept this damage in the larger national interest, which he believes has been well served by our Jihadist policies) writing a book with a former RAW chief and saying most of the same things..