Monday, January 18, 2016

Change Pak army terror calculus by supporting domestic rebels in Pakistan

The terrorist attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force base once again highlights the problematic nature of India's 'talk-no talk' strategy vis-à-vis Pakistan.  I had written about this earlier too, in 2008 in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack, and in August 2015, in the aftermath of the Gurdsapur attack and pressure on the Indian government to cancel NSA (National Security Advisor)-level talks. My views on the subject have remained fairly consistent: to respond to Pakistan's transgressions, India needs alternatives to simply calling off talks.  Calling off talks is usually a foolish gesture.  India needs to develop military and covert measures to deter and punish the Pakistan army's use of terror against India. 

Though I argue that India should not discontinue talks, I also argue that continuing talks without responding to terrorist attacks and other outrages by the Pakistan army is equally foolish -- and unsustainable.  Since this essay was published a few days back, other analysts, who are far more knowledgeable about Pakistan, have pointed out that much of the supposed 'action' that Pakistan is taking against the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists is the usual drama they have engaged in many times before, without any real effort at curbing these terrorist organizations, in essence a farce to placate foreign leaders.  This is eminently understandable because the Pakistan army feels no pressure to take any real action, and as I point out in the essay, it is a high-benefit, low-cost and low-risk strategy.  If, as seems likely, the talks were to continue, we should expect more attacks, unless India can develop options to change the Pakistan army's calculus.  My essay, published by the Observer Research Foundation, is reproduced below.

Suspending talks is surrendering to Pak Army strategy

In the aftermath of the terror attack in Pathankot, the pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suspend dialogue with Pakistan is mounting.  Even if he resists the pressure this time, the India-Pakistan dialogue will constantly be at risk because the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) can sponsor more terror attacks until it becomes politically impossible for the Modi government to continue the dialogue.  As long as India’s only response to terror attacks is to suspend talks, the Pakistan Army will hold the upper hand.  Suspension of talks does not impose any cost on the Pakistan army; indeed, it is what they seek.  India needs to develop alternate counter-measures so that it has options other than suspension of talks.  Indian decision-makers need to understand the Pakistan army’s support for terrorism as a rational and usually effective strategy if India is to develop such counter-measures that increase the costs and reduce the benefits to the Pakistan army in using terror as a strategy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Structural Consequences of China's Rise

I wrote an essay on "The Structural Consequences of China's Rise" for a conference on "the US Rebalance and the Asia-Pacific Region", organized by the Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi. The papers have now been put together by CPPR and is available as a book. My essay, more a brief and slightly abstract think-piece, is pasted below.  
I have tried to explore the impact of China's rise from a Structural Realist perspective.  One of my concerns with Structural Realism is its focus on just great power politics.  Though Kenneth Waltz and other have their justification for such a focus (that great powers are more consequential) I think it is time that Structural Realists, and other Realists, started focusing more on regional politics. This is one among a few of my early explorations of how this might be done, so comments are very welcome.   
The Structural Consequences of China's Rise
Rajesh Rajagopalan

China's rise, over the medium term, can lead to three possible structural consequences,

depending on different permutations of Chinese and US economic growth rates. These are (in random

order) a continuation of the current unipolar order; a bipolar system with China joining the United

States (US) as a polar power; and a multipolar system in which China and one or more powers join the

US as polar powers. Over the long term, there are other possibilities such as a non-polar order or a

unipolar system with China as the unipole, but these are not considered here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

India's Unrealized Power

This is being posted a bit late but . . .

I wrote the India chapter in the NBR's (National Bureau of Asian Research) latest annual edition of Strategic Asia.  The volume titled Foundations of National Power in Asia, was edited by Ashley Tellis, Alison Szalwinski and Michael WillsIt involved trying to measure national power through a complex set of quantitative and qualitatives indices that Ashley Tellis et al has originally proposed in a RAND study in the 1990s.  In my chapter "India's Unrealized Power", I argued that though India was growing richer and more capable, its relative power vis-à-vis some key players such as China has actually gotten worse.  India, I argued, is being held back primarily because of the inefficiency of its state structure and particularly its bureaucracy.  I am somewhat pessimistic about India's future prospects, though I would expect that India would continue to grow at a reasonable pace.  But India has been extremely inefficient in converting its various resources -- natural and human -- into military power. 

The volume was released on November 18. Though I could not be there for the launch the audio and video of the launch is available at the NBR site.