Monday, October 5, 2015

Did Rajiv Gandhi Really Plan to Go to War with Pakistan to Save the Najibullah regime?

Maybe. 

This is one of the several little nuggets I found in an essay on Soviet-Indian relations in the last decade of the Cold War.  It was published as a chapter in 2011 by Sergey Radchenko in a book he co-edited with Artemy M. Kalinovsky, The End of the Cold War and the Third World:New Perspectives on Regional Conflict based on declassified East bloc archives.  [I had not seen this earlier; it was bought to my attention by Yogesh Joshi, one of my PhD students]. I have little doubt that the documentary evidence Radchenko presents is credible, even if I might quibble with some interpretations.  The broad argument that Radchenko makes is that both Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi were somewhat na├»ve not only about international politics but also about Soviet-Indian relations.  It also shows both sides maneuvering around each other in a manner that reveals somewhat greater crudity (in the best Realist sense of the word!) than I would have imagined.  But it also reveals a lot of other things, including India’s unhealthy obsession with Pakistan and – despite Indira Gandhi’s and Rajiv Gandhi’s successful state visits to the US and generally improving US-India ties – deep and abiding Indian suspicions about the US. 

Now to the juicy bits: