Tuesday, April 17, 2007

K Sub weighs in on Credible Minimum Deterrence

In a recent opinion piece in DNA India, K Sub spoke about the factors influencing the notion of credible minimun deterrence in India.

I summarise his list as follows:
  1. Overwhelming numerical superiority does not imply a stable deterrent
  2. Pakistan is a Chinese proxy state in nuclear affairs - so it is not simply a question of what deters Pakistan.
  3. An American intervention in any India-Pakistan escalation is guarenteed.

This is a good baseline for things as they might stand and I would like to add the following comments.

More generally, deterrence works only between nuclear states with the capability to inflict unacceptable losses on each other.

Non-use against non-nuclear states, even "effectively" non-nuclear ones (as in states who have a nuclear arsenal, but do not have the means to deliver them to targets of choice) remains the norm solely because there is a general distaste for the use of nuclear weapons.

In the event that deterrence breaks down between India and Pakistan, there will no longer be any constraints on any declared nuclear state to avoid the use of nuclear weapons. Firstly the very idea of deterrence will have been demonstrated to be inadequate and secondly public attention will have focussed on the breakdown of deterrence itself, this atmosphere of fear will dictate a rewriting of norms.

If one assumes that the deterrence breakdown is local, i.e. declared nuclear states (other than India and Pakistan) do not see any reason to abandon deterrence as a idea altogether, then any nuclear weapons aimed at India or Pakistan by the declared nuclear powers will have to come from existing stockpiles devoted to maintaining their current deterrence relationships.

In the event that such a use of weapons takes place, the people intervening in the India Pakistan dispute will likely retroactively invoke the justification that India and Pakistan were behaving irresponsibly in order to legitimise their (possibly) nuclear attack against an effective non-nuclear power.

If Pakistan successfully articulates a recessed nuclear deterrent vis-a-vis a P5 state, as it might for example, if it were to allude to the possibility of a Jihadi led nuclear strike on their soil if they intervene in an India-Pakistan nuclear standoff in ways that do not meet their approval, then Pakistan gains a small but definete position of advantage.

6 Comments:

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi maverick,
sorry to add this here. regarding
"""US Attempts to shove the Hyde Act down India's throat """
it has already started
1)http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=01aa677a-9d87-4a52-a623-e46b0d9e13ff&
2)Dupatta's editorial
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/28428.html
Is India & US considering type 4 scenarios? that was the crux of my last email to you(kindly do respond, I know for sure that you are a very learned person, but kindly spare some time for me)
3)Why is India not publicy rejecting the deal.

 
At 6:52 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

We have nothing to gain from publicly or privately rejecting the deal. We want the deal at least as much as the Americans do.

All through out the first half of the negotiation process NPAs like Perkovich etc... went around telling the world how the US didn't need the deal and India actually did need it and so America could afford to do hard negotiation with India. Perkovich even publicly argued that the US could impose whatever it wanted in the deal because India would have no choice but to accept it at this point. He also felt the Bush administration was losing out on this opportunity.

Now the tables have turned, India can publicly pretend to need the deal and tell the US that it does not find the price of its wares acceptable.

We have to have the offending clauses removed otherwise nothing will be purchased from any US supplier.

The trajectory beyond this point is very simple, the US will "unofficially" make some changes in the draft of the bill and sell India what it wants to buy. Once that is done, the US will reserve its pent up angst for the time when India wants spares and when India does want spares, the US will create an atmosphere where India has to pay through its nose. After that the cycle will repeat.

Kindly send me a reminder email, I would love to reply to you, however my email is swamped with spam presently. I regret not being able to reply earlier.

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

We have nothing to gain from publicly or privately rejecting the deal. We want the deal at least as much as the Americans do.

All through out the first half of the negotiation process NPAs like Perkovich etc... went around telling the world how the US didn't need the deal and India actually did need it and so America could afford to do hard negotiation with India. Perkovich even publicly argued that the US could impose whatever it wanted in the deal because India would have no choice but to accept it at this point. He also felt the Bush administration was losing out on this opportunity.

Now the tables have turned, India can publicly pretend to need the deal and tell the US that it does not find the price of its wares acceptable.

We have to have the offending clauses removed otherwise nothing will be purchased from any US supplier.

The trajectory beyond this point is very simple, the US will "unofficially" make some changes in the draft of the bill and sell India what it wants to buy. Once that is done, the US will reserve its pent up angst for the time when India wants spares and when India does want spares, the US will create an atmosphere where India has to pay through its nose. After that the cycle will repeat.

Kindly send me a reminder email, I would love to reply to you, however my email is swamped with spam presently. I regret not being able to reply earlier.

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
check mail

 
At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you please provide a list of abbreviations like NPA etc for newcomers like me.

 
At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NPA = non proliferation ayatollah (expert)

 

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