Saturday, May 25, 2013

Discussing Nuke Disarmament at Glion

The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GSCP) invited a small group to discuss nuke disarmament at Glion, a small village about a hundred kilometers outside of Geneva (on Lake Geneva), Switzerland.

The discussions were under the Chatham House rule but I can report that it was a fairly useful and innovative approach, with a focus on how security might be maintained after nuclear disarmament.  We discussed some of the challenges, potential institutional and other other response measures and the prospects for stability.  My feeling was that the
insecurity of the weaker members of the current nuclear weapons club (and some of the potential members such as Iran) needed to be taken seriously, may be even more seriously than the concerns of the great powers.  I suspect that even if the major nuclear powers agree to give up nuclear weapons (!!), the smaller ones might be more reluctant because they (countries like Israel, Pakistan, North Korea etc.) pursued nuclear weapons to overcome significant disadvantages in conventional  military power.  Unless there are drastic reductions in conventional military imbalances (if then), it is unlikely that these weaker nuclear weapon powers will give up their nukes.  But it was a good exercise in imagination what might happen in one possible future, at a breathtaking venue.  And the thirty degree Celsius temperature difference with Delhi didn't hurt either!

On Premier Li's visit

Here's my take on the Premier Li's visit, published a few days back in the Economic Times

India need not sacrifice balancing China at the altar of better relations 

Despite the border intrusion, China has been making the right noises about improving relations with India. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will echo that theme during his visit to India this week. But New Delhi needs to look beyond the rhetoric and make hardheaded assessments about its relations with China.

This does not mean that India should not be open to Chinese efforts to improve relations or resolve the border dispute. What it does mean is that India should look to Chinese actions rather than its words.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Views on the Li visit . . . .

Lots of comment of Chinese Premier Li's visit to India.  Here are just a few . . .

I will shortly post my own take . . . 

AII-Lowy Institute Indian Foreign Policy Poll

The Australia India Institute (AII) and the Lowy Institute for International Policy have released a poll that largely (but not exclusively) focuses on Indian foreign policy attitudes.  This is very welcome: polls on attitudes towards Indian foreign policy among Indians are few and far between.  The full data and analysis are available from AII and from the Lowy Institute.  Amitabh Mattoo and Rory Medcalf wrote a short essay in The Hindu today outlining their key findings.  The report was presented earlier today in New Delhi at the Observer Research Foundation.

Some key points after a quick read:

  • Indians feel warmest towards the US by a sizeable margin and coolest (coldest?) towards Pakistan, again by a wide margin.  China is in the middle.
  • When asked to compare between US, China and Pakistan, fifty percent want to see ties with the US improve "a lot" over the next decade, while only 33% want for the same for China, and only 15% for Pakistan.  
  • Pakistan and China are seen as the most serious military threats by far
  • Indians generally rate environmental threats, water shortages and food shortage as higher threats than war

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Morning Reads . . .

  • From the Rising Powers Initiative Blog, a nice summary of various Indian and Chinese perspectives on Sino-Indian border dispute and relations.
  • Raja Mohan has a great essay on the Indian Express website on being realistic about Sino-Indian relations in the light of the Sino-Pakistan alliance.
  • Global Times clearly sees the Taiwan-Philippines spat as a way to bring Taiwan closer to the mainland
  • An Insight Crime analysis (via the Small Wars Journal Blog) by Steven Dudley and Viridiana Rios of the rapid expansion of the Zetas, the Mexican drug cartel.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Morning Reads . . . .

  • Two nice essays in the Indian Express.  One by Tanvi Madan argues persuasively that India shouldn't focus as much as it does on personalities in foreign policy.  Another by former Ambassador K.S. Bajpai calls for a "national consensus" about what to expect with China, pointing to some key geopolitical facts that cannot be overlooked.  A couple of key quotes from Bajpai:
    • "While nobody would help us in extremis, some would help us become strong enough to prevent extremis."
    • "We should not slur over unwelcome facts in determining policies, nor assume we are inevitably adversaries."

  • Couple of fairly hardline Chinese views on Manila's apology to Taiwan for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman, though China Daily was relatively more sober than the Global Times, which called on Taiwan and the Mainland to "pursue 'complete victory' over the Philippines this time", whatever that means.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Remembering Kenneth Waltz . . .

More tributes to Kenneth Waltz (here, here, here and here).  This latest set is from Foreign Policy and includes a number of his former students, all of whom are distinguished academics themselves.  

And a couple more, one by Robert Murray in e-IR and another by Robert Powell in the Indian Express.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kenneth Waltz

As published on the IDSA website:

Kenneth Waltz R.I.P. (1924-2013)
May 15, 2013
Kenneth Waltz, probably the most influential international relations theorist since the late 1950s, died on May 13, 2013. I did not know Waltz personally and I only saw him once, when he was given an award for his achievements at the International Studies Annual Convention in 2010 at New Orleans. As the tributes to his life and contributions pour in, I wanted to set down a few thoughts about how much his work has influenced the field as well as my own intellectual development and ideas.
What I find most fascinating is how little Waltz has written when compared to the enormous impact he has had on the field. He has only three full-length books, spread over three decades and the last of these, Theory of International Politics, was written almost thirty-five years ago. Two of these books became classics and are still widely read, including Man, the State and War, the book that grew out of his PhD thesis.

Will Pak Elections Improve India-Pakistan Relations?

Colour me skeptical.  I gave my take on the elections in Pakistan and its impact on relations with Pakistan  in a brief piece in Economic Times.  Here's the link to the essay.  I argued that there was too much irrational exuberance and not enough realism in New Delhi about Pakistan.  Neither democracy nor good intentions alone are sufficient.  I am pasting the full essay below as published:

India seems almost as excited by Pakistan’s election results as Nawaz Sharif

By Rajesh Rajagopalan

New Delhi seems almost as excited by Pakistan's election results as Nawaz Sharif. Manmohan Singh's gushing letter to Sharif was probably to be expected. Even the BJP has joined the general consensus that the strengthening of democracy in Pakistan would improve India-Pakistan relations. But the India-Pakistan dispute was not caused by military rule in Pakistan and the strengthening of democracy, which this election surely indicates, will have only marginal effects on improving India-Pakistan relations.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sixth India Trilateral Forum, Stockholm

Jyoti Malhotra, Abraham Denmark, Dan Twining, me and Francois Godement at the 6th India Trilateral Forum, Stockholm

I attended the 6th India Trilateral Forum in Stockholm recently (April 12-13, 2013).  The India Trilateral Forum’s are organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, with support from the Swedish, US and Indian governments.  I had attended the previous two meetings too and it is the only meeting that brings together such a diverse group: scholars, practitioners and some business people.  Since most of the academic meetings I attend include only the first category (and a sprinkling of retired members of the second group), this was an interesting change.  In previous meetings, I found business leaders more optimistic and somewhat less cynical than academics, and it was no different this time. 

The Real China Threat

As the border tension between India and China mount, Economic Times (New Delhi) published an essay I wrote on the issue.  I argued that India should focus on longer term issues about balancing China rather than get distracted by the border pinpricks.  The essay in full:

India should build up capabilities on border with China, exert its influence in the region

Reports of Chinese military intrusion into the Ladakh region once again highlight India's troubled relations with Beijing. While border incursions are no doubt serious, they should not be allowed to mask the real problems that India faces with China, which have more to do with China's growing power and what this means for India's foreign policy.