Avoiding Nuclear War in South Asia

Alien

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Avoiding Nuclear War in South Asia
by Ali Ahmed October 14, 2015

The best case scenario—the one in which there is no military confrontation—is the only way out.


Two nuclear war scenarios have figured into the strategic discussion lately in South Asia. Both emerged from a war game conducted by the US National Nuclear Security Administration inDubai that brought together experts from India and Pakistan. Two Indian analysts who attended the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory-organized war game subsequently wrote up two different scenarios.

The first raised the interesting, and certainly welcome, possibility that nuclear war outbreak may not occur despite a conventional war. The second scenario, following the script of the war game, depicts a couple of tactical nuclear weapon strikes by Pakistan responded to with four tactical nuclear weapon strikes on military targets by India. Even so, it depicts a relatively desirable end state, with the two sides pulling back from the brink of all-out nuclear war despite the limited nuclear exchange.


The war game—and the second scenario—follow the by-now well-worn script of Pakistani terrorist provocation instigating Indian military reaction. India’s launch of conventional forces prompts ‘minor’ Pakistani nuclear first use, targeting Indian troops within its territory. While India does retaliate, the counter is not against strategic—counter value—targets, read cities. India thereby eschews its nuclear doctrine’s promise of ‘massive’ retaliation designed to inflict ‘unacceptable damage’.

In the first scenario, Pakistan resists the temptation to go nuclear, though one weapon is depicted as going-off accidentally. In the second, the war that has gone nuclear, is wound up while still a ‘limited nuclear war’, through the good offices’ intervention of the US-led international community.

While clearly the best case scenario is one in which there is no military confrontation between the two nuclear powers, that the war game was conducted suggests continuing apprehensions that war clouds can beset South Asia in short order.

The key questions are: How to make such a war follow the first scenario: keep it from going nuclear? Should it ‘go nuclear’, how to make it end in line with the second scenario? Finally, and more importantly, how to assure the best case scenario?

Since India has a No First Use pledge in place and is the stronger conventional power, it is not one seen as initiating a nuclear exchange. If a war is stay non-nuclear, the onus is on Pakistan. However, the onus for incentivizing Pakistan lies with India.

India has for its part been practicing a limited war doctrine for about a decade now. The doctrine is reportedly cognizant of nuclear thresholds and keeps its limited offensives below these. Nevertheless, this does not appear to be enough since the second scenario depicts even such offensives attracting a Pakistani lower-order nuclear strike.

This owes to the scenario depicting a week-long prelude to war between the mega- terror attack and war outbreak. The interim witnesses the Indian military having a crack at the Pakistani military, designed to create conditions for launching its limited offensives. Consequently, by the second day after these are launched, it is easy to see why Pakistan reaches for its nukes.

Clearly, if it wants to keep the war non-nuclear, India must avoid using the opportunity of war instinctively, to degrade the Pakistani military. This is counter-intuitive in the Clausewitzian framework, in that war is taken as meant for just this purpose: to militarily grapple with and hurl down the enemy.

However, Clausewitz needs adapting to the nuclear age. In the nuclear age, Clausewitz’s foremost principle—that the political retains primacy over the military even in war—dictates that nuclear war avoidance continues to make sense even when engaged in military hostilities.

This implies India’s strategic response should not be military-centric and military-led, as much as have the military play second fiddle to a more significant politico-diplomatic prong of war strategy. The latter must be weighed in a manner as to beget war aims, with the military posturing at best to strengthen the political hand. Adapting war strategy to the nuclear age implies ruling out a military-dominant war strategy.

The political hand in such a case understandably entails a tradeoff: Pakistan to roll back terror with a tacit Indian promise to meaningfully address ‘outstanding issues’, shorthand for Kashmir. Foreign interlocutors agreeable to both and the back channel can serve as conduit. Internally, the public may need to be conditioned to get off the war horse. Such political exertion alone can bring about the first scenario: of nuclear non-use by Pakistan.

Military application in this case would then begin and end with the limited offensives by India’s pivot corps, corps deployed along the border in a defensive role but with an offensive bias. In the second scenario, Pakistan’s hand is forced towards the nuclear button owing not so much to the limited offensives, but due to India’s three strike corps shown as mobilizing in the wake of these limited offensives.

For staying relevant, scenario building usually reflects current thinking. In the second scenario, not only is the Pakistan army degraded starting ‘I’ Day (Incident Day)—the day of the terror attack—but is mauled further in the duration of the conflict. Even after the exchange involving six nuclear weapons—two of Pakistan and double that number of India—India proceeds to up-the-ante by launching its three strike corps to force Pakistan’s hand into capitulation.

This suggests a delusional intent to prevail in a nuclear war. While the scenario ends happily without prompting a strategic nuclear exchange, it is dangerously over-reliant on American intercession.

The second scenario, in as much as it reflects current thinking, emphasizes a military dominant strategy that not only prompts nuclear war but also rules in catastrophic nuclear consequences. It thereby misleads that war is fightable and winnable, and indeed, so is nuclear war.

The best case scenario is therefore the only way out. Getting there is through jettisoning the misreading of Clausewitz that war is politics by military means, by a return to Cluasewitz’s original thought that war is politics but with only an admixture of military means.

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/10/14/avoiding-nuclear-war-in-south-asia/
 

tarunraju

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If there's a 26/11-scale attack, and Modi doesn't respond militarily, he will lose the 2019 elections. It's that simple.

Military response to a 26/11-scale attack is one of Modi's political pivots. Other such pivots include Ram Temple reconstruction, uniform civil-code, etc. If those pivots aren't delivered upon, BJP's defeat in the 2019 polls is certain.

The Modi administration can clock double-digit GDP growth rates, create millions of jobs, immeasurable prosperity all it wants, but non-delivery on political pivots will cost it its next elections. On the other hand, Modi can run a very lukewarm and mediocre administration, but merely delivering on the political pivots will guarantee his comeback in 2019.

This is why Modi is keeping Pakistan at an arm's length. Pakistan is most dangerous when you're feeling comfortable with it.
 

Hari Sud

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Ali Ahmed writing an honest opinion of nuclear war in Asia is a news to me. A war hysteria has been drummed up by Pakistan to draw US in the picture.

No, neither Pakistan has capacity to start a nuclear war, nor it has capacity to withstand the retaliation which will come with it. Hence it is a war hysteria anyway.
 

Alien

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If there's a 26/11-scale attack, and Modi doesn't respond militarily, he will lose the 2019 elections. It's that simple.

Military response to a 26/11-scale attack is one of Modi's political pivots. Other such pivots include Ram Temple reconstruction, uniform civil-code, etc. If those pivots aren't delivered upon, BJP's defeat in the 2019 polls is certain.

The Modi administration can clock double-digit GDP growth rates, create millions of jobs, immeasurable prosperity all it wants, but non-delivery on political pivots will cost it its next elections. On the other hand, Modi can run a very lukewarm and mediocre administration, but merely delivering on the political pivots will guarantee his comeback in 2019.

This is why Modi is keeping Pakistan at an arm's length. Pakistan is most dangerous when you're feeling comfortable with it.
Couldn't have said it in a better way :namaste:. It appears that, you have read my mind ;)
 

thethinker

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This is why Modi is keeping Pakistan at an arm's length. Pakistan is most dangerous when you're feeling comfortable with it.
India's Pakistan related diplomacy is contained within a specific set of parameters i.e diplomatic offensive related to Kashmir and a counter offensive by highlighting Balochistan.

This is handled by lower level diplomats from India while Modi focuses on securing business and investments from other nations.

And this snub has not gone down well with Pakistan who were expecting full and undivided engagement by India PM whenever they desire Kashmir talks.

No wonder why you see Pakis from military and bureaucracy provoking Modi to personally engage on one-one talks with the bald Sharif.
 
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Ali Ahmed writing an honest opinion of nuclear war in Asia is a news to me. A war hysteria has been drummed up by Pakistan to draw US in the picture.

No, neither Pakistan has capacity to start a nuclear war, nor it has capacity to withstand the retaliation which will come with it. Hence it is a war hysteria anyway.
USA is considering giving Pakistan a nuclear deal similar to India?
Seems like outside powers want a nuclear exchange? What is the nuclear deal for
Reward for creating the tacloban and helping USA lose in Afghanistan?
 

Compersion

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Get Pakistan focus also take care of sunni people. They are after all the only Islamic nuclear weapon area.

If i were the pakis i would not be looking at getting a nuclear civilian deal with americans but a deal india like we have with exchanging nuclear sites. A good CBM would be a joint statement by india and Pakistan that if any other area and nation tests (e.g
North korea, taiwan , etc) nuclear weapon either and both will do the same. It would signify that both want existence and safeguard defence. Not sure Pakistan has such thoughts and freedom
 
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I_PLAY_BAD

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If there's a 26/11-scale attack, and Modi doesn't respond militarily, he will lose the 2019 elections. It's that simple.

Military response to a 26/11-scale attack is one of Modi's political pivots. Other such pivots include Ram Temple reconstruction, uniform civil-code, etc. If those pivots aren't delivered upon, BJP's defeat in the 2019 polls is certain.

The Modi administration can clock double-digit GDP growth rates, create millions of jobs, immeasurable prosperity all it wants, but non-delivery on political pivots will cost it its next elections. On the other hand, Modi can run a very lukewarm and mediocre administration, but merely delivering on the political pivots will guarantee his comeback in 2019.

This is why Modi is keeping Pakistan at an arm's length. Pakistan is most dangerous when you're feeling comfortable with it.
That is how almost all the political parties and leaders were able to fool and exploit the stupid people of India for more than 50 years !!! Screw up everything and fix just one issue was/is/going to be their mantra ever!!
 

sayareakd

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What if Pakistani terrorists attack us, we attack Pakistan and they nuke our soldiers in their land and in return we just take out Pakistan from world map at first opportunity, including their second strike capabilities. Question is will world miss Pakistan, if not its not bad option.
Victor write its own history.
 

tarunraju

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That is how almost all the political parties and leaders were able to fool and exploit the stupid people of India for more than 50 years !!! Screw up everything and fix just one issue was/is/going to be their mantra ever!!
People do stand to benefit from Modi's political pivots:
  • Uniform civil code: Immeasurable benefits for national integration and uniformity of law in the society, immeasurable benefits to Muslim women (marital integrity and property rights).
  • Ram Mandir: Cultural renaissance, Hindus will never feel victimized again, restoration of a key pillar of Hindu faith
  • Military response to Pakistani terror: Pakistan won't dare attempt another 26/11-scale attack for the next few decades, just as there we earned ourselves 15-20 years of peace when RAW stepped up anti-national activities in Pakistan and a peace was agreed upon between ISI and RAW, and when we had 20 years of peace following 1971 war.
  • GST/Land-Reforms: It will end Congressi benami landlordship, huge boost for industry and investments
 

A chauhan

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Those who are afraid of Pakistani nukes should first consider Indian nukes. Be it conventional or Nuclear we are ahead than Pakistan, so if we wish, we can take back PoK/punish them anytime we wish, off course at a great loss of economy but bearable.

If we attack PoK, Pakistan will be at tight corners since indulging in nuclear war with India for tiny land PoK would be a big question of existence for Pakistan, not for India.

Next 26/11 will have to be followed by a punitive attack from India, I concur.
 

I_PLAY_BAD

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People do stand to benefit from Modi's political pivots:
  • Uniform civil code: Immeasurable benefits for national integration and uniformity of law in the society, immeasurable benefits to Muslim women (marital integrity and property rights).
  • Ram Mandir: Cultural renaissance, Hindus will never feel victimized again, restoration of a key pillar of Hindu faith
  • Military response to Pakistani terror: Pakistan won't dare attempt another 26/11-scale attack for the next few decades, just as there we earned ourselves 15-20 years of peace when RAW stepped up anti-national activities in Pakistan and a peace was agreed upon between ISI and RAW, and when we had 20 years of peace following 1971 war.
  • GST/Land-Reforms: It will end Congressi benami landlordship, huge boost for industry and investments
Everything is nice to hear. Let us see how Modi is implementing them.
NDA was not able to push simple GST and Land bills despite 283. You have listed 100 times more sensitive and political-enemies-uniting issues. Lets see how Mr. Modi tackles and does some good to Hindus also.
 

no smoking

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What if Pakistani terrorists attack us, we attack Pakistan and they nuke our soldiers in their land
Pakistani lost their Kargil war in 1999 but they didn't nuke your soldiers. This means you need a lot larger scale of war to force them, something like 1971 war.

and in return we just take out Pakistan from world map at first opportunity, including their second strike capabilities.
No, you don't have the numbers and technical capability to take out neither Pakistan from world map, nor their second strike capability. The possible nuclear war scenario between you two is both sides shooting out all their nuclear weapon at the same time. And both sides socially, economically collapse.

Question is will world miss Pakistan, if not its not bad option.
The question is how the world to save the hundreds of millions refugees in Pakistan and India.

Victor write its own history.
After being hit by 100 nuclear warheads, you can hardly call yourselves victor.
 

sayareakd

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Oh I forget to add that we should 10 top Chinese cities, its industrial heartland and it's dams simultaneously along with attack on Pak. This will be true deterrent.
 

Bornubus

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Military action or surgical strikes are not an answer to 26/11 type Terrorists attack in India,otherwise terrorism in Pakistan would've been ended by Paki army.We should retaliate the way RAW did in 80s during khalistan insurgency thus avoiding nukes and war.

Its the job of RAW not Army to fight a non conventional war.
 

I_PLAY_BAD

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Pakistani lost their Kargil war in 1999 but they didn't nuke your soldiers. This means you need a lot larger scale of war to force them, something like 1971 war.

No, you don't have the numbers and technical capability to take out neither Pakistan from world map, nor their second strike capability. The possible nuclear war scenario between you two is both sides shooting out all their nuclear weapon at the same time. And both sides socially, economically collapse.

The question is how the world to save the hundreds of millions refugees in Pakistan and India.

After being hit by 100 nuclear warheads, you can hardly call yourselves victor.
Pakistan did not nuke Indian soldiers because its nuclear program is a jinx. Don't say that they showed compassion and maturity. Today if India retaliates for any Pakistan terror attacks I am damn sure Pakistan will nuke India before India grabs 10 sq.KM Pakistan territory.

An Indian citizen himself does not know the full capability of his country's armed forces. Can a keyboard warrior like you predict a country's tactical capability accurately ? Don't joke and put yourself to sleep.

What about 30 nukes on China ? Will China call itself victor after destroying India ?
 

A chauhan

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Pakistani lost their Kargil war in 1999 but they didn't nuke your soldiers. This means you need a lot larger scale of war to force them, something like 1971 war.
Arguing in the favor of a terrorist state? We had nukes and platforms ready to nuke them in 1999, not them. Pakistan knows it can not stand against India in a conventional war so it'll take up nukes on first available opportunity.

No, you don't have the numbers and technical capability to take out neither Pakistan from world map, nor their second strike capability. The possible nuclear war scenario between you two is both sides shooting out all their nuclear weapon at the same time. And both sides socially, economically collapse.
There is a big difference between India and Pakistan, you are simply overestimating Pakistan since you nurture it and underestimating India since you want to deter us.

The question is how the world to save the hundreds of millions refugees in Pakistan and India.
The question would be how to avoid Pakistani refugees who are not better than ISIS Jihadis.

After being hit by 100 nuclear warheads, you can hardly call yourselves victor.
In the next 5-7 years we'll be having a good BMD, so we are not afraid of 100s of terrorist nukes.
 

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