Strategic Thinking

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  • Kenneth Waltz R.I.P. (1924-2013)

    Kenneth Waltz hailed as the ‘King of thought’ was a towering thinker in the field of IR. His two most important works, Man, The State, and War (1959) and Theory of International Politics (1979), provided a framework within which emerged the principal debate in IR.

    May 15, 2013

    Contribution of Brijesh Mishra in Strategic Affairs and Security Reforms

    The late Sri Brijesh Mishra's perceptive mind and pragmatism in the formulation of foreign and security policies earned him the title of ‘Chanakya of the modern period’. During his long career as a diplomat, he held many important positions and retired from the Indian Foreign Services (IFS) as India's permanent representative in the United Nations (UN).

    March 2013

    Cinema and Strategic Culture

    As India celebrates a century of its cinematic culture, there is a need to elevate its quality and role to complement India’s power profile and socio-cultural aspirations.

    February 12, 2013

    Corruption in Administration: Evaluating the Kautilyan Antecedents

    The significance of Arthasastra for the issue of corruption in contemporary times lies in Kautilya’s realisation that corruption in government is inevitable but can be combated through a set of strict measures

    October 12, 2012

    The Problem of Grand Strategy

    This paper interrogates the concept of grand strategy. Its proponents argue that the absence of a publicly articulated and coherent grand strategy leads to incoherence in practice: armed forces acquire technologies without a strategy, government departments pursue their specific interests without reference to overarching national goals, and diplomats have a hard time explaining India’s behaviour to foreign interlocutors.

    July 2012

    What does the discovery of Higgs boson mean?

    With the discovery of the Higgs boson, the missing link in the Standard Model of physics has been found and the Standard Model stands further strengthened.

    July 09, 2012

    Raviteja asked: What is strategic depth? What does it mean? If possible, please give some examples.

    Anit Mukherjee replies: The concept of Strategic Depth emerges from the realm of military operations and it usually denotes the distance between enemy forces and the main centres of gravity of a country. These centres could be military frontlines, bases, or industrial and commercial hubs. For a military professional, the greater the distance that has to be traversed by enemy forces to reach these bases, the better are the chances of a successful defensive operation. This is primarily because it gives the defender more time and space to organise the defence and stretches the enemy’s logistical chain.

    The best examples emerge from the French and German invasions of Russia/Soviet Union. Russian strategy traded space for time and even followed a scorched earth policy. They also relocated key industries to the hinterland. In short, Russia had the luxury of space and had greater strategic depth. In more contemporary times, some in Pakistan have justified meddling in Afghanistan so that they can attain ‘strategic depth’ in case of a war with India. This, however, logically means that the Pakistani military will desert its people and the country and operate out of Afghanistan to fight India. Rightfully so then this idea has been ridiculed by many Pakistani analysts.

    Ravi Ranjan asked: What is the difference between natural ally and strategic partner?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: Natural allies are normally 'birds of the same feather', while strategic partners are often ‘strange bedfellows’. Natural allies (think of America and Britain during the Second World War) share common political and cultural values—they may believe in democracy or authoritarianism; they may uphold liberal capitalism or socialism or state corporatism; they may share common historical and cultural traditions; their societal values may be more or less similar; they may practice the same religion; and so on.

    Strategic partners (think of America and the Soviet Union during the Second World War) may share none of these similarities. Notwithstanding this difference, what makes two countries either natural allies or strategic partners is the common security challenge that they both face at a particular juncture in history and more importantly their decision to come together and pool their resources to deal with this challenge (think of America, Britain and the Soviet Union coming together to deal with the Fascist challenge during the Second World War).

    Sustainanble Culture for Soft Power

    To maintain our cultural heritage, it is vital that the state encourages the study of Sanskrit and impart vigour to reworking Sanskrit texts like that of the Arthsastra of Chanakya.

    June 07, 2012

    Ravi Ranjan asked: What is the meaning of geo-economics and geo-strategy? What one means by strategic engagement?

    Namrata Goswami replies: Geo-economics is the study of how economics functions in an international environment. It is basically an academic study of the global move of capital, market and labour. The concept of geo-economics thereby interacts with the geographic and demographic aspects of states and consequently influences their own policy with regard to international trade and commerce. Geo-economics also provides us with a list of economic powers; the states with the greatest economic strengths, and how that influences the structure of power. For example, the US as the top economy followed by China as the second largest economy, and how the distribution of economic power informs their politics, etc.

    Geo-strategy is the practical world of policy-making amongst states at the international level. It basically informs states to chart out a strategic course of which policies to undertake in order to improve ones’ own position in the international order. This could include policies to become the world’s pre-eminent power, or to become an economic power or a regional actor. The geographic location of a country plays a critical role in the formulation of geo-strategy.

    Strategic partnership is a partnership between two states in order to support/forward/craft particular goals in the international order. A strategic partnership enables two states to have a common vision towards a particular foreign policy goal. For example, the US and India have a strategic partnership between them. This strategic partnership brings the two countries together on global issues like safeguard of the global commons, the fight against piracy, non-proliferation, high technology cooperation, etc. The strategic partnership framework also offers the guidelines for future policy making on issues of common interest.