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  • Asian Strategic Review 2014: US Pivot and Asian Security

    Asian Strategic Review 2014: US Pivot and Asian Security
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    The “Pivot to Asia” strategy qualifies to be called Obama Doctrine: a part of Obama’s “grand strategy”. This policy may radically redefine not only the US engagement with Asia but also the Asian strategic dynamics. This book looks at various facets of the pivot strategy, to include US, Chinese, regional and country specific perspectives with an aim of providing greater clarity and understanding.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-769-2,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    Federalising India’s Neighbourhood Policy: Making the States Stakeholders

    The politics of coalition has posed new challenges to India’s foreign policy. This problem becomes particularly evident in India’s neighbourhood, which inevitably becomes intertwined with domestic politics. The rise of regional political parties and their role as coalition partners makes it more difficult for the union government to ignore provincial sentiments. Competitive politics featuring both national and regional political parties provides primacy to local interest as this is linked to the vote bank politics.

    January 2014

    Vibin Lakshmanan asked: Why is 'polarity of power' thesis less relevant and meaningful than the 'balance of power' in the present international system?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: Polarity of Power and Balance of Power are not contrasting explanatory or theoretical perspectives.

    Polarity of Power refers to the structure of international systems, whether they are dominated by a single Great (Super) Power [unipolar system] or two Great Powers [bipolar system] or multiple Great Powers [multipolar system].

    Balance of Power is the attempt by each Great Power in an international system to ensure itself against rivals or adversaries through a combination of alliance formation (external balancing) and building up its own capabilities (internal balancing). The efforts made in this regard by the various countries inhabiting an international system are referred to as Balance of Power politics.

    Theoretically, it can be argued that Balance of Power politics ceases to operate in a unipolar international system. A good recent example is America's 'unipolar moment' which dawned after the demise of the Soviet Union. Contrary to the expectations of many theorists of a realist persuasion, no other power or combination of powers (for instance, Western Europe) automatically rose to balance against American power or challenge American hegemony. And contrary to Paul Tsongas' cryptic judgement (The Cold War is over; Japan won.), and Paul Kennedy's prediction that Japan would supplant the United States as the new superpower, Japan in fact entered a period of stagnation from which it has still not completely recovered. However, since international politics is a human endeavour and not a mathematical equation, 'History' did not 'End' with the triumph of a liberal democratic United States and the international system did not freeze into unipolarity forever.

    Over the last 25 years, China has steadily risen to Great Power status and a nascent bipolar international system can be discerned. Notwithstanding dire predictions of a terminal American decline, there are indications that the United States may actually spring back from the consequences of its recent imperial overstretch thanks to the shale gas revolution, the domestic backlash against globalisation and the shrinking of the cost differential between domestic and overseas manufacturing. The belief that the international system may actually become multipolar in character with the Rise of the Rest (including India) no longer appears to be a certainty and may well prove to be a distant mirage. Be that as it may, it is in the context of the return of bipolarity or multipolarity that the practice of Balance of Power has returned to the international system.

    None of this means that Balance of Power as state practice fell into disuse in the context of relationships between regional powers. The 50-year old China-Pakistan entente cordiale is a good example in this regard.

    Posted on February 11, 2014

    Arthasastra: Lesson for the Contemporary Security Environment with South Asia as a Case Study

    Arthasastra: Lesson for the Contemporary Security Environment with South Asia as a Case Study

    In this monograph, the Arthasastra framework is used for examination of dynamics of fragility in South Asia, with a case study of Pakistan. The insights into human policy choices which can be gleaned from the treatise have a timeless quality that can offer a fresh perspective to today’s policy makers. It can be open to further academic investigation and debate for developing and enriching an indigenous strategic vocabulary.


    Central Asia: Democracy, Instability and Strategic Game in Kyrgyzstan

    Central Asia: Democracy, Instability and Strategic Game in Kyrgyzstan
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    Central Asia remains both stable and unpredictable after 20 years of its reemergence. The states here continue to undergo complex nation-building process, which is far from complete. The book is an attempt to provide an overview of political and strategic processes at work in the region by taking the case of Kyrgyzstan – tracing the events erupted since 2005 and more after 2010.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-752-4,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    Critical Issues in Indian Politics: India’s Foreign Policy, edited by Kanti P. Bajpai and Harsh V. Pant Critical Issues in Indian Politics: India’s National Security, edited by Kanti P. Bajpai and Harsh V. Pant

    Indian foreign policy has made tremendous progress since the collapse ofthe Berlin Wall. Today, India is being seen as an important regional powerand a responsible global player. It is the goal of India’s foreign policy toachieve major power status for the country in the international arena.This ambition has been a common thread in the policies of all politicaldispensations to have ruled the country. To achieve this stated goal, Indianeeds to be pragmatic and instead of being guided by the past, it has tolook at safeguarding its interest in the future.

    January 2014

    Akhila Reddy asked: What is the significance of Monroe Doctrine in international relations?

    Saroj Bishoyi replies: The Monroe Doctrine is a foreign policy statement made by former US President James Monroe in his 7th annual address to the Congress on December 02, 1823. The ideas spelt out in the address became a longstanding tenet of the US foreign policy, and it remains so even today. President Monroe in his address had asserted: “American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.” He further stated: “we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.” Thus, President Monroe made three important points to the European powers in his address: First, the Western hemisphere is no longer an open area for influence or colonisation by any external power; second, the US has no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of the European nations and, therefore, Europe should keep away from the internal affairs of the Western hemisphere nations; and lastly, America would consider any attempt by European powers to control newly independent nations of the Western hemisphere as a hostile act against the US.

    At this time, however, the US was not either economically or militarily powerful enough to implement Monroe’s assertion. The doctrine could have proved ineffective without support from the UK, whose interests converged with that of the US in keeping away other powers, i.e., Spain, Portugal and Russia, from dominating the continent. The UK supported the doctrine because it not only helped in promoting its commercial interests in the area, but also established a special relationship with the US which continues till date. In addition, newly independent countries of Latin America supported this policy believing that it would help protect their sovereignty and national interests. The doctrine was used by the US along with its ideas of “manifest destiny” for increasing its influence in the region as well as developing trade relationship with the new countries of the hemisphere or the “New World.” It was also used by successive American administrations as justification for further adding territories like Texas (1845), Oregon Territory (1846), Mexican Cession (1848), California (1850) and others.

    The Monroe Doctrine subsequently contributed to the emergence of the US as a world power by early 20th century, certainly the sole power in the North and South America. The US thereafter began to play a lead role in the foreign affairs of the Americas and began influencing the European nations too. The doctrine was also used to justify American power projection in the Western hemisphere and to further promote its foreign policy interests. President Theodore Roosevelt added the “Roosevelt Corollary” or “Big Stick” to the Monroe Doctrine in 1904, which sought legitimate right to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American countries for their recalcitrance or refusal to pay their debts and to keep the European powers out. Thereafter, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his intention to replace the “Big Stick” with the “Good Neighbour” policy for improving American relationship with Latin American countries. Moreover, President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and President Ronald Reagan during Iran-contra affair in the late 1980s used the doctrine to defend American interests. 

    The doctrine, therefore, not only helped the US in defending new nations of the Western hemisphere from the influence of the then European powers, it also accelerated its own presence and influence in the entire region. Subsequently, with the increase in its economic and military might, US became the most powerful country in the entire Western hemisphere. Interestingly, what started in 1823 as an attempt to check the growing influence of the European powers, has since become a rationale for American unilateralism and interventionism in various countries including on humanitarian grounds. Thus, the Monroe Doctrine has significantly influenced the American foreign policy, and thereby the international relations, for over a century now and, perhaps, will continue to do so for many more years to come.

    Also, refer to the following sources on the subject:

    “Monroe Doctrine”, Primary Documents in American History, the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

    James Monroe, “Seventh Annual Message”, The American President Project, December 02, 1823.

    “Monroe Doctrine, 1823”, United States Department of State, Office of the Historian.

    Vibin Lakshmanan asked: What could be the new dimensions of human conflict in view of growing resource scarcity?

    P.K. Gautam replies: There is a vast body of literature available on this issue, of which water wars hypothesis and grab for Arctic resources are relatively recent examples. The available literature is along three lines:

    1) Neo-Malthusian Model. In this “first wave” body of literature, the sources of environmental scarcities and resultant violent conflict are identified as: (a) Resource depletion and degradation (b) population growth, and c) structural scarcity or uneven distribution. The pattern of interaction due to scarcities manifest in basically two forms: the first is termed ‘resource capture,’ and the second is termed ‘ecological marginalisation.’ The link between scarcity and conflict is at three levels: first is “simple scarcity” conflict, second on group identity, and the third is “relative deprivation.” The conflict may lead to the following:

    (i) Technical and social ingenuity to adapt
    (ii) Decouple by trading goods and services for environmental resources
    (iii) Country may fragment due to warlordism
    (iv) State turns into a hard authoritarian regime

    2) Resource Nationalism. This is about non renewable resources like oil and diamonds. Critical resource scarcity will increasingly motivate military intervention as markets and technology fails to address perceived threats of supply.  The three interrelated factors that introduce stress in the international system are:

    (i) Insatiable demand due to growth of population;     
    (ii) The looming risk of shortages of fossil fuel and also water; and         
    (iii) Contested source of supply, for example oil and gas. 

    3) Political Economy. Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler and others of the World Bank have done work on the link of resources with conflict. The “resource curse” thesis showed that some resource dependent countries were more prone to civil wars.

    However, cooperation is often the outcome as wars may not solve the problem. Thus, the Indus Water Treaty is a good example. Sustainable development, controlled demand, reduced consumption, recycle & reuse, and reasonable ‘expectations’ of the growing population and economies with technologies could help minimise the problem.

    ‘Arab Spring’: Implications for India

     ‘Arab Spring’: Implications for India

    As India–Gulf relationship is taking an upward trajectory, and India’s stakes and interests are growing with time, it is time for India to adopt a formally articulated “Look West Policy” in line with the successful “Look East Policy”. This Policy Brief by the West Asia Centre of IDSA explores some policy options for India.

    January 02, 2014

    Vibin Lakshmanan Asked: Can one conclude that the international order is more ‘liberal’ and 'security friendly' nowadays?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: Yes to more liberal and no to security friendly. The international order has assumed a more liberal tendency after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the triumph of the United States in the Cold War competition. The resultant unipolar moment, which has just about begun to wane in the last few years, saw the first and hitherto only democratic, non-imperial, superpower in history (exceptionalism writ large indeed!) and its European allies assuming a new civilizing mission to create a new international order. The defining features of this new order are (were?): the modification of the Westphalian notion of absolute sovereignty through the imposition of the idea of the state’s responsibility to protect all sections of its population; and the promotion of democracy, especially within those recalcitrant states that opposed, or refused to kowtow before, the West, to create a world composed of democratic states. The liberal and neoconservative assumption behind these initiatives was that an international system composed of democratic polities that exercised restraint within and without would lead to the utopia of perpetual peace wherein states and their people would be content with pursuing happiness through the accumulation of wealth. Ironically, the means adopted to achieving this ideal involved the imposition of democracy (regime change) at the point of a bayonet. Further, the end envisaged involved two related impossibles: annulling politics between polities, and the triumph of competitive economics [capitalism or geo-economics] over competitive politics [war or geopolitics] without the first degenerating into the second. The future of this more liberal international order is now in doubt because of the rise of China as a new geoeconomic and geopolitical rival of the United States, the re-emergence of an assertive Russia after a decade plus of decline, the onset of economic decline in the United States and in Europe, and the West’s unwillingness to expend greater amounts of blood and treasure for realising the envisaged vision.

    While the post-Cold War international order may be ‘security friendly’ for European states in conventional terms, the same cannot be said for the United States especially in the wake of the rise of an assertive China. And the international order has definitely not become security friendly for India or other Asian states. India’s security situation has become more challenging since the end of the Cold War, given Pakistan’s continued support for terrorist groups (which may increase in the aftermath of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014), its rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal and entente cordiale with China as well as China’s growing assertiveness, rising influence all around India’s continental and maritime periphery, and continuing progress in power projection capabilities.