ALEXANDRA GILLIARD, ED. JOSHUA STADTNER
Currently, the greatest challenge to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is a Taliban splinter group known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It originally formed in December of 2007 as a conglomerate of thirteen groups , many of which had once enjoyed ISI sponsorship in Kashmir and Afghanistan, but turned on Pakistan following the government's crackdown on fundamentalist militants culminating in the Siege of Lal Masjid .
In its war against the state, the TTP set out to gain influence in Pakistan and institute Sharia , performing indiscriminate attacks that often harm civilians. In 2009 alone, eighty-seven suicide attacks staged by the TTP killed almost 1,200 civilians .
The ISI itself has enjoyed unparalleled power since its creation in 1948. Due to the ISI Director-General’s selection and promotions by the Military Branch, the agency has remained steeped in army and military affairs for almost seventy years. From its outset, the ISI has backed terrorist organizations that would provide strategic depth with India and greater influence in Afghanistan. Despite its convoluted objectives, ISI was never truly an autonomous intelligence agency, independent of the army's influence. Even now, army leadership actively rejects any parliamentary attempt to separate its affairs and those of the ISI . This fact, combined with Musharraf's post-9/11 commitment to the global War on Terror , has placed the agency in an operational quagmire. Its ineptitude has culminated in militant rebellion against Pakistan's increased involvement in the region, with fractured terrorist groups taking aim at Pakistan's ISI leadership.
Failure of Counter-Terrorism Policy Implementation
The ISI’s continued covert support of extremist groups post-9/11 has fostered a radical community and new splinter groups. After Musharraf’s pledge to join the War on Terror, the ISI vacillated between continuing its sponsorship of extremist groups that support its interests, and cracking down on radical anti-ISI groups within Pakistan. While new policies and legislation are implemented after high-profile attacks, the ISI has failed to use these policies in larger, latent cases, such as its failure to discover Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. Due to inconsistencies in its campaign against terrorism, the ISI was listed as a terrorist organization in U.S. Guantanamo Bay files .
Pakistani generals have confessed to the loss of hundreds of Army and ISI officers in the fight against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) between 2007 and 2010, and have admitted that numerous ISI offices have suffered consistent attacks by suicide bombers . While in recent years the ISI has made a show of implementing new policies after major attacks, TTP militants have continued to infiltrate major cities and establish roots, proving loss of control over terrorist groups within Pakistan. The ISI’s inability to significantly reduce terrorism in Pakistan has continued to be limited by its hesitancy to destroy terrorist groups , instead hoping to use them against India in the future.
Improvement of Counter-terrorism Implementation
To improve counter-terrorism implementation, it is imperative for the ISI to apply legislation and policies to all terrorist groups, not solely the groups working against ISI interests. The agency must renounce support for the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba before it will be able to make headway against terrorism within Pakistan. Recently, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Branch stated that its attacks against ISI buildings and intelligence officers in Pakistan were due to ISI officers fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban against the Islamic State. While the ISI continues to foster relationships with extremists, groups angered by its practices will emerge and attack Pakistan. According to the International Crisis Group, counter-terrorism will remain ineffective if the ISI continues to distinguish between terrorist groups that support the ISI, and those that do not .
It is also crucial for the ISI to develop a branch that focuses on the ideological nature of the terrorism, and seeks out solutions to stem the radicalization of Pakistani youth. Perhaps the agency can develop a program to provide a “counter-narrative” to the ideologies that plague the country. By eliminating the radical roots pervading Pakistan, it would be possible to begin limiting extremism or discouraging joining radical groups. The ISI can provide support to influencers, such as moderate clerics, who could promote tolerance and acceptance in religion . Only by eliminating ties to terrorist groups and decreasing radicalization will the ISI succeed in counter-terrorism.
The Future of the ISI
With is consistent support of terrorist organizations against India for the past seventy years, it is unlikely that the agency will break this pattern any time soon. Without the confrontation of extremist ideologies, the ISI will fail to eradicate radicalization within Pakistan. Until the ‘threat of India’ has been admitted a falsehood, the ISI will continue to serve as a safe haven for extremism. While terrorist attacks within the country are declining, groups ousted from North Waziristan will recover in Afghanistan and continue to plot against Pakistan. Soon, these statistics will once again rise.
The UN recently estimated that the median age in Pakistan is 22, and “nearly 60 percent of the population is 24 or younger” . Due to Pakistan’s economic struggles and sluggish labor market, the youth bulge will continue to hinder the economy for years , encouraging many towards radicalization for lack of other opportunities. If the ISI does not curb extremist sentiment and stop the influence of radical clerics, youth radicalization can persist for decades. The capability of the ISI to control radicalized youth and existing terrorist groups will continue to decline if it is unable to renounce its support for militant groups.
 Wagner, C. (2010). Pakistan’s Foreign Policy between India and Afghanistan. Security and Peace, 28(4), 246-251.  Fair, C. (2012). Pakistan in 2011: Ten Years of the “War on Terror”. Asian Survey, 52(1), 100-113.  Hussain, S., & Zahra-Malik, M. (2014). Political Instability and its Implications for an Effective National Counter-terrorism Policy in Pakistan. In M. Yusuf (Ed.), Pakistan’s Counter-terrorism Challenge (pp. 83-102). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Tensions over the South China Sea have embroiled its bordering states in conflict for decades, with China the main aggressor. For those involved, control over a $5 trillion (USD) trade route and vital fisheries are enough to promote conflict around overlapping maritime boundaries and vital islands.
The conflict began in the years following World War II, during the creation of the 1951 San Francisco Treaty, which lacked regulations regarding ownership of the Spratley and Paracel islands after they were removed from Japanese territorial holdings . The fight for access has pulled multiple claimants, including: China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan, all vying for oil and natural gas, fisheries, and territory within the South China Sea.
Host to a very small stock of its own oil reserves, China is frantic to find a new source for its massive energy utilization that accounts for an outsized percentage of world consumption . Its claims in the South China Sea are almost exclusively driven by the potential oil and natural gas deposits under the sea floor, which would allow China’s self-sufficiency for over a quarter-century . Yet, rivaling claims by fellow Sea-bordering states have stirred up conflict, with all states aware that within the next two decades their energy consumption will rise exponentially.
China claims a historical ‘nine-dash line’ encompassing ninety percent of the Sea, most of which encroaches on the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) - delineated by UN treaty UNCLOS - of other Sea-bordering states, resulting in increased regional tensions as smaller states attempt to balance their need to maintain economic relationships with China and their need for the resources within the South China Sea. In response to increasing competition, there has been recent significant armament in the Sea.
In response to increasing tensions, Sea-bordering states - including Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia - have massively increased their arms imports, leading to recent confrontations. This has led to confrontations in recent years, with China the main aggressor. In 2012, a standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels led to China’s forcible seizure of the Scarborough Reef, and another stalemate in 2014 resulted from China’s implementation of an oil rig in the EEZ of Vietnam .
ASEAN has been successful at preventing violent conflict in the South China Sea, but unfortunately has not focused as much attention on conflict resolution. This is likely due to China’s efforts to keep the organization as fragmented as possible. To build upon ASEAN’s meager attempts at resolution in the South China Sea, Dingli et al. (2017)  have provided a few policy options: resource sharing, multilateral frameworks, and international arbitration.
Resource sharing has become the most promising way forward in reducing conflict in the South China Sea, particularly in the areas of fishing and exploration for natural gas and oil. There have already been instances of resource sharing and cooperation in the South China Sea, as evidenced by the relationship between Malaysia and Brunei, and the trio of Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand in exploration and development off of their coasts . Grouping together again in the future can promote cooperation in developing maritime resources, which can ultimately decrease the instances of fishing and trawling in another state’s territory, as well as the conflicts resulting from exploration and attempted profit from another’s EEZ.
Disputants must be willing to bring their case to a higher level, allowing the UN greater responsibility in the conflict. A successful case of international arbitration in the South China Sea case occurred at The Hague, and can act as a guide for future international decisions relating to the case. In 2013, the Philippines filed for international arbitration to help it contest China’s claims in the South China Sea, namely the historical nine-dash line that encompasses almost the entire region. The court ruled in favor of the Philippines, citing “no legal basis”  to China’s claims of exclusive rights to the Sea. Yet, barriers to the enforcement of this ruling still exist. China has openly rejected the decision and continued its same practices, encroaching further within the EEZs of its competitors.
Despite the recent successes of these policies, it is necessary to add to these options, as the conflict still necessitates ASEAN’s input to encourage a reduction in the region’s dependence on China’s economy and the improvement of enforcement of regional norms.
1. Decrease Dependence on China
One of the most significant changes ASEAN can do to encourage resolution is to decrease regional dependence on China’s economy. To band together against the biggest aggressor, these states must free themselves of economic ties to China. Each state instead needs to focus on its own individual economy and the resources that it can export to profit independently of China, thus reducing its own dependence on Chinese foreign aid and markets . The greater their own economies are without reliance on Chinese markets, the more willing Sea-bordering states will be to challenge China in an ASEAN or international forum.
In order to promote economic independence, ASEAN will need to create new aid programs that may perhaps draw on the funding of all members to alleviate financial crises or needs in individual states, targeting regional aid at a state rather than individual Chinese foreign aid. The role of resource sharing also comes into sharp relief here: improving the individual economy of a state will require multilateral exploration and development by Sea-bordering states, decreasing competition by making the resources and potential profits of the South China Sea available to all bordering states. This will decrease China’s apparent hegemony over the Sea and open up markets. Ideally, a decline in competition would correlate with a decrease in aggression, ultimately decreasing dependence on China.
2. Improved Enforcement Policies
Overall, it is imperative that ASEAN improves its enforcement of maritime laws in the South China Sea to encourage regional compliance with acceptable behaviors in regards to territory acquisition. As a regional organization, it possesses greater authority than a distant United Nations, an international organization that has been criticized as having ‘Western values’ that do not always mesh with Eastern values. With this authority, ASEAN must begin sanctioning states that do not comply with regional norms – and ensure that China is unable to manipulate regional laws or agreements in its favor. This would require that ASEAN move away from consensus-based decisions and operate more closely to a majority-rule structure. In order for any code of conduct based upon regional norms to be instituted within the South China Sea, enforcement abilities would need to be improved for it to carry any weight. Norms and restrictions that remain unenforced in the South China Sea will simply allow aggressors to continue business as usual, preventing a true resolution to the South China Sea via resource sharing and economic independence.
Japan has become a technological and economic giant in the years since World War II, yet has remained resistant to the development of nuclear weapons. Thus far, Japan’s reliance on the United States for extended nuclear deterrence and the reluctance of its political elites to pursue nuclear weapons development has kept its proliferation policies stagnant.
Japan, as “the only country that has ever experienced the horror of nuclear weapons” , emerged from World War II as one of the world’s leaders in nonproliferation. The events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki determined the direction that Japan’s leaders would take in regards to nuclear proliferation for generations, abandoning nuclear weapons research begun during WWII and evolving into a pacifist country where nuclear discussion was all but forbidden. As the Cold War era emerged, Japan found that it would no longer need its own nuclear option; instead, the US would provide it with a nuclear umbrella due to its close proximity with the Soviet Union.
Holmes & Yoshihara (2012) attribute the general pacifism of Japan to its peace Constitution, the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and anti-military sentiments throughout the country . Anti-war attitudes are engrained in Japan’s society and culture, and they are reflected in the inflexibility of the political elite on nonproliferation. Initial state investigation into the feasibility of nuclear weapons development in 1967 determined that the program would “fail to engender domestic support, and generate regional security dilemmas” , something that continues to hold true. The codification of non-nuclear sentiments, along with the reservations of the public and increasing intimidations of China and North Korea have all become major deterrents of weapons development in Japan.
Concerns for Security
The security of Japan has been assured by the US for decades under a system of ‘extended nuclear deterrence.’ It developed during the Cold War era, when the Soviet Union amassed the “largest fleet of nuclear-powered vessels” in the world  and developed thermonuclear bombs more powerful than those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki . During this era, US anxieties over the potential spread of Soviet influence pushed it to offer protection to Japan to keep it from falling under Soviet control. Thus, Japan’s habit persisted for decades: it came to rely on the US to ensure its national security, rather than pursue its own nuclear weapons program in the face of public tensions over the Hiroshima and Nagasaki aftermath. While the end of the Cold War led to détente and cooling of tensions in the Eastern Hemisphere, decades later in 2015 the Japanese foreign minister confirmed, “Japan continue[s] to rely on US nuclear deterrence” . As long as this extended deterrence exists, there is much less of a push for Japan to pursue its own weapons development.
Yet, the development of a weapons program could further heighten regional tensions. Since the first Chinese nuclear test in 1964 and North Korea’s test in 2006, fears of further horizontal proliferation in the region led to worries about a cascade of nuclear acquisition in Asia  that could drag Japan down with it. Should other Asian states begin to amass nuclear weapons, Japan too would have to weigh the balance between regional tensions and the certainty that the US would come to its aid. Today, Japan still finds itself attempting to counter the rising regional hegemony of China  – yet, rather than weapons development, this is accomplished through economic buildup and political participation within the international arena at the UN. If Japan creates its own weapons program today, it would negatively impact the security of the Asia-Pacific region, with the potential for “further military build-up in China” . Already a nuclear power, an increase in China’s nuclear weapons could draw the attentions of Western nuclear powers. Ultimately, any buildup could create a dangerous domino effect across Asia and require the involvement of international allies to subdue conflict.
The Influence of Domestic Politics
Japan’s decision to forego nuclear weapons is in large part due to the domestic climate of the regime: with older political elites still in power, there are many who are still wary to challenge pacifism. It can be assumed that a large part of this wariness comes from the public’s ‘nuclear allergy,’ and a desire for elected officials to continue to appeal to their constituency. Furthermore, the legal structure preventing proliferation in Japan is very difficult to challenge.
The public’s influence in Japan has made it so that political leaders are very unlikely to openly advocate a nuclear weapons program, and the existence of US deterrence has made it so that these leaders do not have to risk public outcry – they can safely rest under the umbrella while advocating for others to relinquish their own nuclear weapons. Furthermore, there exists many “veto players”  within the Japanese government: “top political leadership, major state bureaucracies, private companies, and prefectural governors”  quickly subdue any discussion on weapons development. These individuals are responsible for the stagnation in nuclear development, and are a large reason why it is unlikely that nuclear policy will change drastically in a short time period. They are essentially a ‘check’ on the nuclear hawks that have attempted to amend Article 9 or rid the country of its three pillars - instead attempting to enshrine the three pillars within the Japanese Constitution. While unsuccessful, this would have made changes to nuclear policy even more difficult.
Public attitudes in Japan regarding proliferation still remain overwhelmingly negative today. The Japanese public does not view China and North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons to be “an issue of the highest priority” . Without a perception of danger, there is little motivation to press the government to investigate potential weapons programs. Perhaps if there were an immediate threat to the archipelago, the public attitudes would rapidly change to pro-nuclearization. Yet, this would only occur if it was clear that the United States’ practice of extended deterrence would either not be effective, or would not be carried out.
Despite this, public attitudes may not stay this way for long. As the country moves further away from the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, younger generations are “increasingly nationalistic and favor weaponization in greater numbers” . Potentially, nuclear-leaning politicians will take advantage of this sentiment, but it still remains that the current vast majority of the Japanese population is anti-nuclear and the state itself is fearful of losing its alliance with the US - which not only provides national security, but economic and political benefits. Perhaps as the younger generation ages and becomes more involved in politics, there will be a shift towards nuclearization and away from a US alliance.
The Future of Japanese Nuclear Weapons Policy
Japan’s changing domestic politics are the result of Prime Minister Abe’s leadership and attempts to amend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, pursuing an “independent, fully self-reliant” Japan . The use of the term ‘self-reliant’ certainly alludes to the questionable nuclear umbrella of the US, instead advocating that Japan should seek its own mechanism to defend itself rather than rely on questionable external defense. The current administration is challenging the pacifist nature of Japanese culture engrained in its Constitution, undoubtedly stirring up proponents and opponents within the Japanese population. Despite this, in 2015, Abe’s bill to reinterpret Article 9 in the Constitution was met with “raucous debate in the House of Councillors” , indicating the regime’s continued split between proponents of nuclear armament and proponents of nonproliferation. Yet, the bill passed. Possibly, the ’veto players’ that have been ever-present in Japan since the end of WWII are slowly declining.
Abe’s proposal highlighted the ‘war hawk’ definition of the Constitution, stating that it “does not necessarily ban the possession” of nuclear weapons . This is a massive diversion from its original interpretation, which “forever renounce[d] war” . While weapons development is not a declaration of war, it significantly changes the perception of Japan on an international scale. Shifting from pacifist ideals will likely change Japan’s interpretations of the NPT, and can have an effect on its alliances with Western nuclear powers. This shift is all the more evidenced in Abe’s 2014 declaration allowing the Self-Defense Forces to “become more assertive and militarily assist foreign countries” , showing the true nature of Abe’s goal: power projection in the international system. Paired with Japan’s attempts to establish itself as a permanent member of the Security Council, Abe’s government will likely continue asserting itself on an international scale, which can raise nationalist attitudes and discourage dependence on other states. Over the next decade and a half, the younger, more nationalist generation will have its opportunity to take part in Abe’s political legacy, and they may choose to continue slowly dismantling Japan’s pacifism.
Ultimately, the relationship between Japan and the US is a large factor in whether or not Japan will decide to pursue nuclear weapons. Under the Obama Administration, Japan and the US worked together to expand nonproliferation regimes. Yet, the new Trump Administration currently makes it unclear whether the US will continue these practices alongside Japan. This is especially evident in Trump’s statement regarding how the US “cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world” and encouraging Japanese proliferation  Despite this, the cost of extended deterrence for Japan seems minuscule compared to the massive overall defense budget that the US already allocates.
In Japan’s perspective, political elites likely see Trump’s opinions on US support to Japan as unpredictable, revitalizing the argument that Japan cannot rely on the US for protection in times of need. If Trump decides to withdraw America’s long-standing policy of extended deterrence, it will foster instability and potential proliferation of another nuclear power. For advocates of nuclear weapons within Japan’s political elite, Trump’s ambivalent stance on US protection for Japan has “allowed ‘Japan to change the peace-addled notion that America will protect [it]” .
As the years pass, especially in the coming years under the Trump Administration, it is likely that Japan will continue increasing its military’s capabilities, yet the aforementioned reasons that Japan has foregone nuclear weapons in the past will likely remain barriers to proliferation for a long time. Likely, the public pacifism and the legal structure surrounding proliferation will change. Regardless, this remains no match for the ramifications of regional tensions with China and North Korea should Japan pursue nuclear armament. In all likelihood, Japan will continue to build up a conventional military whilst evading addressing nuclear weapons policies.
In the future, Japan will only proliferate under certain scenarios, including: (1) the US no longer willing to provide an umbrella; (2) worsening regional tensions and credible nuclear threats by China and North Korea; and (3) a collapse of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and all of the work that Japan has done to supplement it. Ultimately, the next decade and a half may see Japan seek its own nuclear weapons program if one of these three scenarios comes to light. But without one of these scenarios, it is more likely that Japan will continue conventional buildup and allow the United States to continue its policy of extended deterrence.
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