The independence-dependence paradox: stability dilemmas in south
Khan, Feroz Hassan
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Has a new era of detente and stability emerged in South Asia five years after India and Pakistan first openly tested nuclear weapons? In the process, have India and Pakistan effectively demonstrated the value of nuclear weapons in deterring war? Deterrence optimists claim that fear of the ultimate weapon has restrained the otherwise rough actors who have been at each others' throats more often than any other nuclear neighbors in the nuclear age. Empirical evidance also suggests that the region has been spared from major wars, despite recurrent crises during the past two decades. Deterrence pessimists, however, dispute that nuclear weaons have had a stabilizing impact in the region. Indeed, the advent of nuclear weapons has witnessed increased tensions, a growing arms race, and a half-dozen crises nearing war. The region has come close to full blows at least twice since the open 1998 nuclear weapons tests -- in 1999 and 22001/2002--and thrice earlier in the covert nuclear period--in 1984, 1986-1987, and 1989-1990. In fact, the three most recent crises--in 1990, 1999 and 2001-2002--only avoided escalation into a full-scale war because of intense U.S. diplomacy. In fact, it could be argued that the deterrence equation in South Asia now implicitly depends on U.S. intevention. In essence, India's and Pakistan's nuclear politics involve what might be called the "independence-dependence paradox". These two proud countries have attempted to wean themselves from outside support by using nuclear weapons. But this strategy has ironically served to make them more dependent on other powers who are forced to mitigate the consequences of this arms race. No other country has played a more crucial role than the United States.
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