Another complaint -- perhaps most annoying to Pakistani and Indian analysts – is that US commentators keep harping on problems of escalation control and deterrence stability, as if leaders on the subcontinent lack sensitivity to these dangers. Indian and Pakistani decision makers have indeed been very mindful of escalatory dangers during prior crises and during the Kargil war. But those who take umbrage at alarums emanating from the United States would have a more persuasive grievance if India and Pakistan worked harder at diplomacy to reduce nuclear risks.
Finding equilibrium in a triangular nuclear competition across unsettled borders is an entirely new challenge. Even if Pakistan’s national security establishment decides to slow down or get off this treadmill to attend to internal security and economic imperatives, India will still compete against China’s rise, and instabilities will persist.
Weapons that cannot be used except in extremis are a poor substitute for military preparedness or successful diplomatic engagement. Diplomatic accomplishments between Pakistan and India, and between India and China have been rare. On what basis can national leaders offer confident predictions of security and stability?
Did that sound preachy or annoying? Or is this a simple statement of fact?
Michael Krepon is the co-founder of the Stimson Center.