N-“flashpoint” for 3rd party intervention

The nuclear “flashpoint” is the usual reason trotted out especially by Western thinktanks to gather willing Indian and Pakistani commentators and get the whole caboodle to endorse the official US, UK, or other view that to ward off a nuclear exchange, Western intervention is necessary. Most subcontinentals with variable knowledge of issues nuclear are easily roped in for the purpose because they crave invitations to such conclaves in the hope that these will lead to more such invitations and to short or long term attachments with the host and other participating institutions. Have never ever heard any of these South Asian invitees to do other than in various ways end up supporting the view that because Indians and Pakistanis cannot take care of the business of keeping themselves and their countries safe from rogues, hotheads, and similar variety of undesirables ostensibly populating the governments and the strategic forces commands in their home countries, or their inability generally to keep a cool head in crises, that well-meaning US government forays into peace-making and peace-keeping is in order. It is understandable why retired Pakistani generals and the like would stoke the idea of a pressure-cooker situation obtaining along the LOC — after all Islamabad has always sought such intervention as an antidote to certain annihilation in a nuclear exchange and, in any case, have desired international intervention in the Kashmir dispute. If the possibility of a Kashmir confrontation can get such attention, then damned if they don’t put light to that tinder. What isn’t clear is why Indian commentators seem so eager to buttress the case of an inherently unstable situation when, in reality, it is anything but, unless it is for aforementioned reasons.

As I have argued since 1987, in fact, the subcontinent has reached a meta-stable state in security relations, which cannot easily be disturbed. Unless the concerns of a really skewed exchange ratio — the extinction of Pakistan for a couple of Indian cities, notwithstanding, GHQ, Rawalpindi, is determined on national suicide. After all, the Pakistan Army has been nothing if not thoroughly professional particularly in gauging its own severe limitations and how far it can push India short of provoking it to deliver a fatal blow. This is the point I have made to Western and Pakistani audiences, and it is a telling one that has brooked little refutation. It is not a point welcomed, however, by thinktanks in America and Western Europe because it robs their governments of a line that accommodates a go-between/mediator role for the US, UK, et al, and the thintanks in question of a good part of their funding available to them by generating scenarios of prospective apocalypse that scares everybody to death. And, any promise to prevent it — including by such soirees — opens up the purse strings! In the event, herding a bunch of professional Indian seminar-ists with variable grip on deterrence reality, history, or even the national interest, is not difficult. They are relied upon to mouth stuff conforming to the laid down script. The still grander aim of such do’s is by slow degrees to build up a regional consensus to draw India fully into the nuclear nonproliferation treaty net. (This little disquisition is triggered by a newsreport of a conference on “limited nuclear war” hosted by the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory with grants for this exercise sourced to the US National Nuclear Security Administration.)

Isn’t it time an Indian government with some strategic wits about it hosted an international conference about the nuclear touch-trigger situation now obtaining in Europe and the imminence of a US-Russian nuclear war which, by the way, is a far greater possibility than a nuclear conflagration in South Asia? So if the US and Russia are not going to blow themselves up, neither are India and Pakistan.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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6 Responses to N-“flashpoint” for 3rd party intervention

  1. Shail says:

    Putin is blackmailing the west to stay out till he can re capture ukraine, and no one is going to go beyond a feeble protest. US wont risk even conventional war over Ukraine. Who is making a noise really (except of course Ukraine)
    As far as the Indo-Pak Calculus goes, I agree with the post in toto. The set of assumptions which underlie it must of course remain true for that stable state to continue. A detente kind of sit is also a good reason to whittle down the force levels because with nukes, one doesnt see the huge tank, aircraft and naval strength to be actually used. Its a dead investment. Its a good time for force manpower reductions rather than accretions

  2. santhosh says:

    very gud article….USA has lost all the moral and political will to fight any major power of significance like russia and china…. i dont think USA is superpower in fighting sense ….all it has superior technology weapons….since many decades, i had overthrown small kids and dictators in the middle east and involved in proxy wars and now it is facing blowback from it….unless it fights major powers like russia and china , we cant even say whether USA possess the invincibility in military terms

  3. santhosh says:

    coming to our strategic analysts and media ….they dont have any expertise or background research on any country whether it is usa , china or pakistan……in the last 3-4 days , times now has come out with news headlines ” UNSC seat is a step away …modi has stepped in IRELAND because ireland has influence in the western world” —this is our media knowledge on UN…western countries will think indians as fools if we behave like this and it is easy for english people to make us dance by offering carrots “india should be in UNSC” and we r happy to appease the emperors of western world with gifts like defence imports….we r subservient nation , that does not have self respect to become great ..all the time our chief ministers in 2 telugu capitals are busy showing the dream of making capitals like singapore…damn it! a country of 120 crore people is no match to a country singapore …this is the level we have fallen to…some thing is wrong in our DNA …UNSC seat is a big damn thing to try for…i care damn for UN….our politicians dont treat and serve indians well but they want to serve world …how foolish we are….our politicians are born of 2nd category who lack spine ….a tiny country srilanka of no consequence on world map is making us feel nervous…..if u buy a indian political map , srilankan map is free…..

  4. Shaurya says:

    The only sensible response!!!

  5. Guru says:

    Sir, your analysis of the so called nuclear strategists is spot on. The Pakistan Army, which is full of hard nosed realists, will continue to keep needling India unless we send out a strong, unequivocal message that such actions will be punished. The nuclear bogey has been used so successfully by Pakistan that a section of the so called strategists in India too have started believing it !!! The Nasr too is one such bogey. Its high time that Pakistan is told to rein in its stooges, triadic deterrence against non state actors will only work when the state sponsor KNOWS that he will pay heavily.

    • Tenzing says:

      Ditto. Especially if what Professor’s statements hold true – that 70 % of n-assets across the western border could be pre-empted.

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