Strategic Space

Regional Nuclear Behaviour and Third Party Mediation

05 Sep, 2018    ·   5513

Dr Manpreet Sethi reviews Moeed Yusuf's book, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: US Crisis Management in South Asia, published by Stanford University Press in 2018

Manpreet Sethi
Manpreet Sethi
Distinguished Fellow at CAPS

Mooed Yusuf, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: US Crisis Management in South Asia, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2018), Pp: 320, Price: INR 3,431.

Concern regarding crises between two regional nuclear powers has been high ever since India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998. The world, led by the US, was quick to not just condemn the act, but also express its lack of faith in the ability of the nascent nuclear powers to responsibly manage their weapons. It was widely predicted that India and Pakistan, who already shared a troubled relationship, would face a nuclear flash point sooner rather than later.

As if on cue, the Kargil crisis took place soon after the two countries completed one year as nuclear-armed states. Illegal occupation of Indian territory by regular Pakistani soldiers under the garb of the mujahideen led to a conflict that lasted until India evicted the intruders. Two and a half years later, India and Pakistan were again in confrontation after the terrorist strikes on Indian Parliament in December 2001. Nearly all of 2002 saw both in a tense military stand-off, which fortunately however did not erupt into a hot war. Demobilisation took place towards the end of the year. Six years down the line, another terrorist strike took place in Mumbai and the region teetered yet again on the verge of war.

Strategic analysts within the region and beyond have studied these crises in great detail to understand actions on both sides in escalating or stabilising the situation, as well as the role of third parties in facilitating de-escalation. A recent book by Moeed Yusuf makes another significant contribution to the subject. Having spent nearly nine years on the study, it is not surprising that the author offers a well-researched book based on extensive interviews with the main protagonists of the crises, and an in-depth examination of relevant writings. Some of the chapters have endnotes well over 200, which reflects a thoroughness of investigation that has been undertaken to articulate, in the author