mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
War In Kashmir
India Hits Militants in Pakistan

After a week of rising tensions, India is targeting military sites in Pakistan. Reuters reports:

India said on Thursday it had conducted “surgical strikes” on suspected militants preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, making its first direct military response to an attack on an army base it blames on Pakistan and raising the risk of escalation.

Pakistan said two of its soldiers had been killed in exchanges of fire and in repulsing an Indian “raid”, but denied India had made any targeted strikes across the de facto frontier that runs through the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

The cross-border action inflicted significant casualties, the Indian army’s head of operations told reporters in New Delhi, while senior government officials said Indian soldiers had crossed the border to target militant camps.

Pakistan, as ever, sees real advantages in taking swats at India. India’s Narendra Modi, who heads a broadly nationalist party, can’t allow these kinds of things to go unanswered. He has been threatening various possible responses (including abrogating a long-standing water use treaty) to what Delhi claims was a Pakistani-sponsored terror attack less than two weeks ago killed 18 Indian soldiers.

This sort of unnerving skirmishing happens every so often between the two unhappy cousins, and is in its own way a kind of valve for relieving pressure. While it’s true that possessing nuclear weapons makes open conflict between powers much less likely, it also encourages both sides to snipe at each other much further down the escalation ladder. The fact that early reports have Pakistan is in its own way downplaying the significance of India’s strikes suggests Islamabad is not that keen on escalating.

Of course, tempers run hot, trust is low, and miscalculations can happen. The Bush Administration managed to pull India and Pakistan back from the brink of nuclear war in 2001. With elections looming, and the Obama Administration’s attention already stretched thin in other theaters, would the United States have the capacity and energy to do the same this time around?

Features Icon
show comments
  • WigWag

    The India/Pakistan imbroglio demonstrates how foolish it is for the United States to extend its nuclear umbrella to other nations. Can you imagine if we had made that mistake with either India or Pakistan? We are far safer having both nations with nuclear arms then we would be if, say, Pakistan had nuclear weapons and India was sheltering under an American nuclear umbrella. The converse is also true; back in the day when our country considered Pakistan an ally, it would have been a mistake to have permitted them to shelter under an American nuclear umbrella while India had its own nuclear arsenal.

    For one, the fact that both countries have nuclear weapons allows them to deter each other. If only one of these countries had nuclear weapons and the other relied on the potential of an American nuclear strike to deter a nuclear attack, deterrence would be dramatically reduced. Who in their right minds would believe that when push came to shove, America would launch nuclear weapons to protect one or the other of these countries. No American President would do that, the American public wouldn’t stand for it and there would be no real deterrence at all.

    In the 21st century when most nuclear armed nations can mount nuclear weapons on long range missiles and a few (including India) can launch nuclear weapons from submarines, the threat of an American nuclear response to, lets say, a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan simply isn’t credible. Is an American President going to risk a nuclear attack on San Francisco, Portland or Seattle in response to a North Korean nuclear attack on Seoul? Would the American public tolerate half a million dead Americans in the event that North Korea could mount a second strike?

    The idea is absurd on its face. It is good, not bad that India and Pakistan deter each other with their nuclear arsenals. The world would be safer, not less safe if Japan and South Korea deterred China and North Korea with their own nuclear arsenals. North Korea might or might not be able to launch a second strike against American retaliation for a North Korean attack on Japan or South Korea. But China clearly has a second strike capability along with what’s probably a third and fourth strike possibility. It will become increasingly obvious over the next couple of decades that the American nuclear umbrella sheltering our Asian allies is an illusion. It simply isn’t credible which means that its ability to deter is decreasing all the time.

    It’s time for South Korea and Japan in particular to develop their own nuclear arsenals to deter China and North Korea. Their willingness to do that would make the world safer and more stable not more dangerous and less stable.

    American elites consider Donald Trump to be a moron. If he’s such a moron, how come he understands this reality while our international relations Mandarins are too oblivious to see it.

    American elites are already dismembering the American economy from the ground up. The greed, myopia and even disloyalty of America’s hyper educated elite is already weakening our country and putting millions of Americans at risk. These same elites are so sclerotic in their thinking that they can’t get it through their thick skulls that we’re not living in the 20th century anymore. Their nostalgia for the binary choices of the Cold War is making the world dramatically more dangerous for everyone.

    Unless these elites are squashed, things are likely to continue to deteriorate.

    If Trump is wrong about encouraging South Korea, Japan and even Europe to protect themselves with their own nuclear arsenals, the American Interest should make its case instead of posting one ignorant essay after the other about what a creep Trump is.

  • Anthony

    Relative to India/Pakistan and expansion of nuclear capability: Redefining the U.S. Agenda for Nuclear Disarmament (webcast – live)

  • Fat_Man

    “would the United States have the capacity and energy to do the same this time around?”

    Given Obama and Kerry’s proven ability to find the sour spot in any situation, there will be an exchange of nuclear weapons in fairly short order.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service