Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Clarification on India's Nuclear Submarine

I've received comments from both friends and strangers about my post on India's new nuclear submarine, so allow me to clarify a few points.
First, I am totally in favor of India's right to defend itself. Whether this third leg of its nuclear triad is aimed at deterring Pakistan or China, it is clearly intended as a second-strike capability, especially given India's proclaimed no-first-use nuclear doctrine.
My argument is that launching its nuclear submarine now, with great fanfare, has the potential to make India less secure, since Pakistan will clearly become even more nervous and paranoid (Pakistan said the Indian sub is "detrimental to regional peace and security" you say?) and be less likely to focus on the biggest threat to both Pakistan and India at the moment, the militants. If any bystander were asked to come up with India's enemy she would name Pakistan, so how is calling a submarine the "destroyer of enemies" supposed to sound to Pakistan? Why not the INS Peacemaker? The INS Gandhi? Although it is intended as a second strike, it can hit from 700 km away with either conventional or nuclear K-15 missiles. It's not a zero-sum game; Indians need to think how they would react if they were Pakistan, and make decisions accordingly.
Second, I too applaud India's restraint in (not) responding to the Mumbai attacks. Previous Indian administrations would have had, at a minimum, massive military build-ups, and some of my friends and colleagues could have written a trilogy of books on India-Pakistan crises (together with the 1999 Kargil crisis and the 2001-2 standoff). Again, my point was to call for more restraint, and the wisdom that should help facilitate a peaceful rise to India's place as a great regional and someday world power. Acting like an 800-pound gorilla, as some previous U.S. administrations have demonstrated, only makes everyone go bananas. Far better to remain wise, prudent, and restrained, and increase your power and capabilities softly, humbly, and with carefully calculated timing.

1 comment:

  1. An arms race is just not needed, but the launching of this sub does not help much. Indeed India has shown restraint over the Mumbai attacks, but this restraint only followed extensive U.S. diplomacy and, I believe, an understanding that Pakistan will retailate to whatever surgical strikes were suggested. India Pakistan escalation does not help keep the eye on the ball either.
    -A.Z., Pakistan