Pakistan's Nuclear Doctrine
Although US policymakers have long been concerned about the possibility that Pakistan's nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists such as the Taliban or Al Qa'eda, a related question has not gotten quite as much attention: What is Pakistan's doctrine for using these weapons in any possible future war with India?
An article by Commander Muhammad Azam Khan (ret.) of the Pakistani Navy, in the March issue of the US Naval Institute's magazine,Proceeding, gives us a small, but frightening, look at the way Pakistan's military thinks about using its nuclear force. Entitled "India's Cold Start is Too Hot," the piece is ostensibly a critique of the Indian "Cold Start" strategic concept, which would allow India's armored units to launch a limited offensive into Pakistan with little or no preparation.
Commander Khan's article includes a glimpse of when and why the Pakistani military could initiate a nuclear war, as in his comment: "The country's (Pakistan's) military planners must think beyond using tactical nuclear weapons," -- indicating that he is uncomfortable with Pakistan's plans to use nuclear weapons in the early stage of any future conflict with India.
At first glance, the logic behind Pakistan's nuclear policy is not too far removed from NATO's so-called "tactical" nuclear doctrine, which, beginning in the early 1950s, was designed to compensate for the West's lack of conventional military "mass" by using Pakistan's nuclear firepower.
Traditionally, tactical nuclear weapons are those designed to attack military targets on the battlefield and strategic ones are designed to hit cities, industrial targets and military bases deep inside the enemies homeland. When discussing the battlefield or tactical use of nuclear weapons, however, it is worth keeping in mind that from the point of view of people close to the action, any use of nuclear weapons in their vicinity is strategic.
To put it bluntly, for Americans, during the Cold War, nuclear weapons going off in Europe might be "tactical," but nuclear weapons going off on US soil would have been "strategic."
The concept was revised several times, but when the Soviets achieved nuclear equality -- and later nuclear superiority in all classes of nuclear weapons -- the NATO "tactical" nuclear doctrine became essentially irrelevant. By the late 1970s, the USSR had both nuclear and conventional superiority over the Western allies.
As a result, NATO not only spent hundreds of billions of dollars building up its conventional force, but also made a modest effort to modernize its nuclear force, so that by the late 1980s, NATO's military power was roughly a match for that of the Soviet armed forces and their allies.
Pakistan's strategy is motivated by forces other than simple self defense. Its defeat in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, which the Bangladeshis refer to as their War of Independence, is fiercely resented by Islamabad's elite. This resentment, when combined with persistent politically and religiously motivated terrorism as well as nuclear capability, has created what is possibly the single most unstable state on Earth.
This instability may very well mean that the usual fears and restraints that leaders have when considering actually using nuclear weapons are not as present as they might be elsewhere.
For India, this has meant that Pakistan has been the base for launching three major assaults: the first in 1999, when the Pakistani Army launched a covert offensive in the Kargil region of the disputed Kashmir province; the second in 2001, when terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament in New Delhi; and the third in 2008, when there was a major terrorist strike on Bombay (Mumbai). Commander Azam Khan claims, with some satisfaction, that, in 2001, when India deployed forces near it's Northwest border, "India lost face because of its failure to elicit any strategic gains from Pakistan."
Azam Khan further explains that he believes India has revised its plans and now has embraced a "Cold Start" operational concept that would allow India to launch an offensive with virtually no notice -- an apprehension not entirely credible, as not even the best trained and best prepared military is able effectively to mount an attack without at least a few days' preparation.
Pakistan's perception of the "Cold Start" concept enunciated by Commander Khan is "that Indian offensive operations would not give Pakistan time to bring diplomacy into play and that such offensive operations would not cross the nuclear threshold nor prompt Pakistan into crossing it." This means he perceives that India believes that the Indian Army assumes it could launch a limited a ttack on Pakistani territory without fear of a Pakistani nuclear strike. The commander claims that this is a dangerous assumption. the fact that Pakistan would threaten to use nuclear weapons against Indian conventional forces on its own territory may seem normal, or at least as normal as anything to do with the use of nuclear weapons is "normal," but in the context of Pakistan's internal politics and its belief that India is obsessively out to attack it, this idea could lead to what Commander Khan calls "Armageddon."
Other sources indicate that "Cold Start" is an Indian Army concept that has not been accepted as official doctrine by either the Indian high command or by India's political leadership. This difference is significant as, unlike Pakistan, the Indian Armed Forces have always respected ultimate civil authority.
As Pakistan can never hope to match Indian conventional or nuclear strength, it might therefore attempt to make up for this weakness by appearing to be "a little crazy." That method of masking weakness with bluster has been seen before, most notably by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Iraq after its defeat by the US-led coalition in 1991. For Saddam, the results were unhappy; for Pakistan, a strategy based on looking ferocious while actually being weak could lead to results that are even more unhappy.
As a naval officer, Commander Khan makes a good case that both his nation and India depend for their economic survival on access to the world's oceans. He claims that a naval offensive aimed at India's Western Coast could do enough damage to its economy that this might substitute for the tactical use of nuclear weapons. However this strategy would take months to be effective, and in any future Indo-Pakistani war both sides would seek to end it on their own terms, as soon as possible.
India's ability to blockade Pakistan's ports and Pakistan's ability to harass, but not to destroy, India's shipping, adds to the strategic imbalance on the subcontinent. It would take a huge increase in the size and effectiveness of Pakistan's Navy to change this imbalance; such an increase is well beyond the ability of Pakistan's economy to sustain.
The Indian Navy's increasing cooperation with the US disturbs Commander Khan; he claims that Pakistan has the option of offering China's Navy bases and support to counter Indian-US seapower. Just how attractive this option is to China may be questionable. If Pakistan were to turn its back on the United States, China might hesitate to entangle itself with a second unstable, impoverished, nuclear-armed state. One North Korea might be all China prefers to tolerate.
Comment on this item
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.
by Irfan Al-Alawi
"Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi" is Abu Du'a, a follower of the late Osama Bin Laden. By adding the name "Al-Qurayshi" in his current alias, he is also seeking to affirm descent from Muhammad.
The allegation of theological sovereignty over all Sunnis extends to Indonesia and Morocco. The idea that the borders between Syria and Iraq will be dissolved by the new "caliphate" defies all Islamic theology and history. As the Qur'an states, "Allah "made the nations and tribes different." (49:13) Syria and Iraq have been distinct for millennia.
The "Islamic State" seeks to obliterate these diverse identities by expelling or killing all Shias and Sunni Sufis. And it does not invoke the Ottoman caliphate in its propaganda, demonstrating decisively the fake nature of the "Islamic State."
A caliphate is obsolete and the "Islamic State" is totalitarian. All Sunnis need to repudiate them soundly, even by force of arms.