Follow by Email

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Post Comment
#813, 5 August 2002
Moving Beyond Realism Firdaus Ahmed
The Indo-Pak standoff has its roots in realist logic pervading both their security establishments. This is understandable given that realism came to dominate the Cold War years, into which both states were born and nurtured. It is no wonder then that the perennial answer to India’s ‘Pakistan predicament’ is to heighten military spending, and thereby exhaust Pakistan, which predictably strives to keep pace. Pakistan’s effort to neutralize Indian preponderance is to enlarge the scope of engagement from sub-conventional ‘proxy’ war to improving its nuclear capability.
If there is to be any movement out of this cul de sac, the answer is not likely to be found by Pakistan – given that its external situation suits the internal political equations biased in favour of its praetorian military establishment. Is there any greater hope in hoping that the initiative would arise in India?
Certain advantages that could accrue might act as incentives for India. If unilateral dilution in its dominance is countenanced by India, there is scope for a positive fallout in two major directions. One is that the military in Pakistan will lose its contrived legitimacy. Consequently, liberal democratic forces can hope to reclaim the state in Pakistan. This may result in dividends for India in the form of a ‘democratic peace’ breaking out in the Indo-Gangetic plains. The second is that Pakistan would not feel compelled to undercut Indian power through alliances with extra-regional powers, or by keeping India’s geographic and socio-political periphery in turmoil.
In other words, there is a case for India to move beyond realism. Instead of deepening the existing power asymmetry, India could explore power parity. This does not translate into power equality, given India’s broader concerns, but a balance in which residual military power should be agreed upon wherein India cannot prevail militarily while Pakistan will not lose its entity. This is no different from the present situation in which national effort begets the same result, though at a higher level of militarization.
There are two ways to bring about this change. One is to have liberal nationalism prevail politically, an unlikely proposition in view of the political ascendancy of the Right which is interested in a muscular India. The second is to justify the new thinking in realist terms – an intellectual coup. Since the security establishment prides itself on being essentially secular, non-partisan, and rational in the interests of national security, this is a viable way to appropriate the discourse currently hijacked by the realists.
The realists argue that not enough has been done to manage the Indian security problematique. ‘More of the same’ is their recipe; the hope being that Pakistan, seen as a tottering ‘failed’ state, will keel over. Pakistani dexterity notwithstanding, it is fairly evident that, over the middle term, it has become the most allied ally of the sole super power. Therefore, Pakistan will utilize this opportunity to indulge in its balancing game with India. In effect, the dénouement desired by realists is not likely to be forthcoming. Even if India were to succeed, it is uncertain whether a truncated Pakistan, prey to fundamentalist forces, is in Indian interests. It is worth pondering whether a chaotic Pakistan is desired by the present dispensation in Delhi for perverse ideological reasons that politically unschooled realists may be oblivious to. It is not unknown for realists to take the state as a given, disregarding the internal political dynamics and complexity that propels policy, including foreign policy.
The point is that realists require to be challenged on their home turf of ‘national interest’, ‘rationality’ and ‘morality’. This ‘war of position’ has first to be won before the direction of the affairs of state in the subcontinent can be liberated from realist fallacies. They have to be exposed as handmaidens of a design they cannot fathom.

No comments:

Post a Comment