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Not War, Not Peace: Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border Terrorism. By George Perkovich and Toby Dalton. (New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2016). Pages XII + 297 + index. Rs. 695.

THIS 297-PAGE BOOK IS IN A CLASS BY ITSELF. IT PROVIDES a masterly account of strategies, doctrines, policies, decisions, and capabilities India requires in order to motivate Pakistan to refrain from cross-border terrorism.

There are two groups of terrorist outfits inside Pakistan. One group primarily attacks India.  But the other group can threaten Pakistan’s security. The first group launched the Mumbai attacks of 26 November 2008 (widely known as 26/11), centring which the introductory chapter of the Perkovich-Dalton book provides a scintillating analysis, noting crucial aspects of India’s policymaking. On 29 November 2008, national security officials assembled at a meeting at the residence of the Indian Prime Minister. That Pakistan was responsible for the 26/11 attack could be inferred from intelligence inputs including intercepted wireless messages. But the Indian Army appeared to be helpless, because it could not forget the irreparable loss of prestige in 2001-02, when, in retaliation against Pakistani attacks against the Indian Parliament, the Indian Army carried out an unproductive, though huge, mobilisation. After the 26/11 attack, the Chief of the Indian Air Force was ready to attack the training camps for terrorists in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), subject to the availability of intelligence on specific targets. There was no decision at the 29 November 2008 meeting.

At the subsequent meetings on 26/11, the Indian Army pleaded for adequate notice to launch a limited ground attack. But it gave warnings of probable escalation leading to a wider war. The prime minister inquired whether Pakistan could launch a nuclear attack by wrongly equating an Indian conventional attack to a nuclear one.  The prime minister failed to elicit any definite response. Suggestions of the Indian Army and Air Force were adjudged to be too risky to be acted upon.

Officials then outlined other responses, e.g. covert operations in POK, or in a central territory of Pakistan. If these operations generated some visible consequences, with India preserving deniability, the people of India would enjoy some satisfaction, whereas Pakistanis would be upset. The success of such operations, however, depended on the ability to kill a high value target; but India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) did not have anyone in Pakistan on its payroll to do this job. Inside POK, the Indian Army commandos could hit some targets. But Indian operatives could be arrested, and India might face an unmanageable international outcry. The Indian prime minister finally did not order immediate operations, military or covert. India resorted to pressure without violence. India entreated members of the international community to denounce Pakistan in line with India, while it stressed the determination not to permit cross-border terrorism to divert the country from the path of economic uplift. “It is impossible to say whether other options would have been more effective,” write Perkovich and Dalton.

But this opinion of the two learned authors may not be deemed to be convincing. As the authors themselves acknowledge, in an indirect admission of the ineffectiveness of Indian entreaties to the international community, China prevailed upon the United Nations Security Council not to pass any resolution for enforcement of action against Pakistan in terms of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. When, however, the United States suffered from 9/11 devastations, or the United Kingdom from the 2005 carnage, the UNSC had passed such resolutions. Pakistan escaped even economic sanctions on account of its 26/11 offensive against India.

“But,” Perkovich and Dalton argue, “Pakistan was further isolated and did find itself under intense international pressure to prevent similar attacks,” i.e. like 26/11. The opinion of the two authors may bring some comfort to Indians without being persuasive. A major (perhaps unique) asset of the Perkovich-Dalton study is the information from discussions with Pakistani civil/military officials/experts in Pakistan and the United States. This may provide a grand consolation prize to Indians (provided they are ready to ignore the aggressive outpourings of the Urdu press in Pakistan, as also the findings of reliable surveys, which conclude that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, including the youth, favour the implementation of the Sharia). The prize is: the people of Pakistan were so aggrieved by the massacre of the innocents in Mumbai, and so worried by the loss of Pakistan’s reputation that some of them imagined that India’s RAW carried out the Mumbai onslaught!

Like in-depth conversations with Pakistani officials, those with civil-military officials of India constitute an enviable resource of the Perkovich-Dalton study. Retired diplomats and military officials assembled in response to an invitation by a national security adviser (NSA) of the government of India for a forthright and long discussion in April 2014 on the 26/11 attack. It centred on how India could motivate Pakistan not to repeat such a terrorist onslaught in future. An additional topic was, in case of such a repetition and the inevitable hostilities, how to pre-empt the outbreak of a nuclear conflict. Perkovich and Dalton present a highly diplomatic summary of this discussion. Nevertheless, this reviewer is constrained to present the substance of the discussion in the following paragraph.

The ex-NSA and the diplomat appeared to have a cynical approach, which was a near-sophistic way of advocating no action. Amazingly, the ex-NSA even echoed the Pakistani view of lack of proper evidence of Pakistani role in 26/11. Only former military officers like the ex-Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) appeared to take a realistic view. They argued that India could have retaliated against terrorist camps inside Pakistan. One General observed that Pakistanis could have some respect for India if India took some sort of tough action. Another General inquired whether India gained anything because of the restraint it observed after 26/11. The ex-DGMO stressed that nobody, e.g. the United States, changed their policy towards Pakistan by stopping aid. The ex-NSA raised the sardonic query of whether terror was an act of war.

Whereas the current Indian policy (as of 2017) will be taken up later in this review, it is important to note here the excellent assessment of  Perkovich and Dalton about the persistent national security challenge posed by Pakistan to India following 26/11.  They write:

Despite the passing of years since 2008, Indian national security elites still struggle with how to effectively respond to the threats posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan. This is an exceptionally difficult and pressing challenge. Groups like the ones that conducted these attacks continue to operate in Pakistan. Real risk remains that they will strike again. Such groups could attack India with or without the authorization or complicity of state authorities in Pakistan. Moreover, even if the leaderships of India and Pakistan achieved a diplomatic breakthrough to pacify relations, militant elements within Pakistan could attack India in order to break the peace and perpetuate conflict. Indeed, militants and some in the Pakistani security establishment believe that without ongoing threats of violence India and the international community will ignore the grievances of Kashmiri Muslims and Pakistan.[1]

Keeping this paragraph in mind, we can conveniently commence the passage from Introduction to Chapter 1: “The Decision-making Setting.” Every  chapter, this reviewer must hasten to add, whether it is the 26-page Introduction, 15-page Conclusion, or the 45-page chapter 1, is a vast repository of wisdom with  unsurpassable documentation. Perkovich and Dalton identify India’s objective as prevention of terrorist attacks upon India by motivating Pakistan’s major decision-makers, i.e. the Army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). In order to accomplish this objective, Perkovich and Dalton argue, India has to devise a strategy and policies which are compatible with India’s actual capabilities. At this point of analysis, we enter into a maze from which it is impossible to get out. What does strategy mean? Thomas Schelling probably gives the shortest definition: strategy denotes a plan of action that a policymaker adopts to match means and ends.[2] Sir Lawrence Freedman seems to be the favourite author of Perkovich and Dalton on this subject. Freedman defines strategy “as being about maintaining a balance between ends, and means, about identifying objectives, and about the resources and methods available for meeting such objectives.”[3] This reviewer is tempted to quote Fred Nickols (a relatively unknown but competent author), who has analysed the meaning of strategy discussed by eight internationally famous authors from such important fields as business management, military strategy, etc. Nickols has pointed to shortcomings in the definitions offered by all these writers, and then states: “Strategy is a term that refers to a complex web of thoughts, ideas, insights, experiences, goals, expertise, memories, perceptions, and expectations, that provides general guidance for specific actions in pursuit of particular ends.”[4] 

So, where do academic analysts stand now? Can they get out of the labyrinth of how to define strategy? Perkovich and Dalton point out that a strategy is an amalgam of doctrine, diplomacy, international political and economic sanctions or rewards, and military preparations.  Moreover, strategy is time-bound—long-range, medium-range, short-range. Perkovich and Dalton then lay down a systematic summation of India’s strategies, policies, and capabilities.

India could have a long-term strategy of encouraging democratization of Pakistan and normalization of relations, and a more near-term strategy of compelling the Pakistani security establishment to demobilize anti-Indian terrorist groups. Policies and capabilities to decisively punish Pakistan in the event of another major terrorist attack against India could serve both objectives, even as the longer-term strategy would emphasize other instruments of power and influence.[5]

This Perkovich-Dalton prescription is academically persuasive, but practically questionable on many counts. It may not be possible for political-administrative-military leaders to pay much attention to long-term strategy because there are uncertainties of tenure due to changes brought about by elections in an Indian-type democracy, and the normal process of transfer/promotion/retirement of civil-military officials. Moreover, political-administrative-military leaders may be so overwhelmed by short/medium term challenges that they can ill-afford to devote time and attention to a long-term strategy. Even if they do, their efforts may not be fruitful vis-a-vis Pakistan, which is not a normal state.

Whereas an Indian observer does not find it difficult to stress that Pakistan is not a normal state, American researchers may hesitate because they may consider it a departure from impartiality, although Perkovich and Dalton have written nothing explicitly against such an assessment. After all, vastly learned as they are, they cannot be unaware that Pakistan is a country where the military possesses the state, and not the other way round, as in a normal state. Moreover, Pakistan has sponsored a large number of terrorist organisations which are trained, armed, and financed by the Pakistani state to unleash terror strikes against India (and Afghanistan). But some of these so-called non-state militant actors have become Frankensteins and turned against their creator. Apparently, Pakistani authorities are so obsessed with injuring India that they do not pay much heed to how, sometimes year after year, their terrorist progenies can murder larger and larger number of people their progenitors themselves are expected to protect. The outfits created by Pakistan’s Army/the ISI often can hurt Pakistan more than India, defeating the primary objectives of the creator of these militant agencies.

In view of these hard data about Pakistani behaviour, observations by Indian journalists (or professional researchers) that India does not have a strategy or doctrine to cope with security challenges from Pakistan could rightly encourage Perkovich and Dalton to write that “Indian authorities have not articulated any comprehensive strategy, nor rigorously analysed and debated the resources and methods they could feasibly acquire and deploy in order to motivate Pakistani leaders to curtail  the terrorist threat.”[6] This comment of Perkovich and Dalton is academically respectable. This reviewer chooses to prepare an evaluation of this comment only after he presents a rough summary of chapters 2-6 of the study by Perkovich and Dalton.

Chapter 2 deals with “Proactive Strategy.” This reviewer is of the view that, for the foreseeable future, India may not be able to pursue a proactive strategy due to lack of capabilities and intentions, and this is realistic. What Army Chief V.K. Singh stated in September 2010 is still correct. Perkovich and Dalton have quoted V.K. Singh: “As part of our overall strategy we have a number of contingencies and options, depending on what the aggressor does. In the recent years, we have been improving our systems with respect to mobilization, but our posture is defensive.”[7]  This is exactly the  ‘posture’  (often a far better term than ‘strategy’ in the  opinion of this reviewer) that has been adopted in the standoff commencing in June 2017 between India and China on the Bhutan-China border, where China is trying to construct a strategically important road in Bhutan’s territory. On 30 June 2017, India’s Times Now television channel has displayed photographs in which, despite provocations, Indian and Bhutanese soldiers have strenuously avoided escalation, wrestling with Chinese soldiers to push them out of Bhutan’s territory. In this context, China has even obliquely referred to the 1962 India-China conflict, and made a veiled threat to punish India.

The Indian defence minister has rightly affirmed that 2017 is not 1962.[8]  Obviously, the defence minister has hinted at large scale improvements in India’s military preparedness since 1962. This reviewer cannot but remind readers that in 1962, the Indian prime minister and defence minister rashly adopted a sort of proactive strategy—despite severe opposition from officers on the ground—and forced Indian soldiers in summer uniform, without necessary weapons and food, to scale a height of 18,000 feet and stage manoeuvres, evidently provocative, to an incomparably better equipped and aggressive China. The result was an unprecedented humiliation for the greater Indian army, which was avoidable.[9] It is a matter of pleasant coincidence for Indians that, during the India-China confrontation on Bhutan’s border, China has avoided the slightest offensive action in the China-Taiwan area despite expressing displeasure at the sale of arms worth US$ 1.42 billion by the United States to Taiwan.[10]

In Chapter 2 of their book, Perkovich and Dalton have duly noted various deficiencies in India’s armed services, e.g. weapons and equipment, communication, intelligence, inter-service coordination, etc. They also succinctly point to the awareness in the Indian military about the repercussions of any limited conventional war against Pakistan for a temporary occupation of Pakistani territory, or even a temporary entry into Pakistani territory as a brief punitive measure and quick exit, or, a naval blockade. But the exercise of any such proactive option by India entails the risk of escalation into a nuclear conflict or, at least, the use of battlefield nuclear weapons by Pakistan. Actually, in the past there were fierce limited wars between China and the pre-1991 Soviet Union. But, both being normal states, there was no escalation into a nuclear war (even though China had built a vast network of underground shelters for fear of this nuclear war). But Pakistan has been using for decades cross-border terrorism with a religious label as a declared instrument of foreign policy, thereby losing eligibility for being judged a normal state. There appears to be an inadequate realisation of this matter by Perkovich and Dalton, although otherwise their scholarship is impeccable. The depth of scholarship becomes evident from a variety of comments on numerous pages of their book.  They are all quotable, but cannot be quoted for lack of space in a book review. The following, on page 81, is just an example. According to the authors,

Satisfying a desire for punishment but executing it in ways that do not contribute to escalatory steps by Pakistan, and which terminate the exchange on terms favourable to India, will be a real challenge for Indian decision makers. Too little punishment will not inflict sufficient costs on Pakistan, while too much punishment might lead to escalation.[11]

It is now pertinent to move to Chapter 3 of the book being reviewed: “Air Power.” Some retired officers of the Indian Army or Air Force, who have written scholarly treatises, have expressed enthusiasm for a calibrated use of air power against Pakistan as an option for prevention of, or retaliation against, terror strikes.  This may redress the prevalent notion of India being a soft state, which may have encouraged terrorists across the border. But, as Perkovich and Dalton rightly point out, India does not have adequate capabilities. India cannot replicate against Pakistan what, for instance, Israel does against Hamas/Hezbollah, or the United States does in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and West Asia. Non-state militant agencies and opponents of Israel are not yet backed by a full-fledged nuclear-armed state, whereas India’s predators, the non-state outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), or Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HeM) are propped up by a nuclear-capable Pakistan. About U.S. military superiority to its enemies in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, or in West Asia, nothing needs to be mentioned. Yet, neither Israel nor the United States has been able to win any final victory. Both flounder in a state of unstable equilibrium.

As to India, any conceivable permutation/combination of air/ground offensive into Pakistan is fraught with inescapable risks of escalation into nuclear confrontation. For the Pakistani military, a permanent enmity with India is profitable, politically and economically, inside Pakistan till, by any stretch of imagination, a hostile Indian response is liable to be interpreted as an existential threat. True, as Perkovich and Dalton argue, the application of airpower by India, swift and short, may cause some damage to Pakistan and earn favourable domestic publicity, but “the attainment of large strategic goals through such strikes would be unlikely.”[12] This reviewer may prefer to replace the word “unlikely” by “impossible,” although the former sounds better academically.

Lt. Gen. Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi signing the Instrument of Surrender under the gaze of Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora. Standing immediately behind from L to R: Vice Admiral Krishnan, Air Marshal Dewan, Lt. Gen. Sagat Singh, Maj. Gen. J.F.R. Jacob (with Flt. Lt. Krishnamurthy looking over his shoulder). Veteran newscaster, Surojit Sen of All India Radio, is seen holding a microphone on the right. Photo courtesy: Indian Navy.

Chapter 5, “Covert Operations,” focuses on Pakistan starting a mix of covert-overt operations against India in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as early as October 1947. Actually, covert operations seldom remain covert when welded into military actions. It became well-known that intruders, including Pakistani tribesmen, trained, armed, and led by Pakistani regular forces, were soon deprived of their Sphinx-like face. Subsequently, Pakistan trained and assisted terrorist forces in India’s Punjab, forces who demanded Khalistan. There was no thinned cover of covert operations.  India trained the Mukti Bahini (the liberation force) for emancipation of East Pakistan from the clutches of the rulers in Islamabad. This operation of 1971, initially covert in some ways, eventually merged into a full-scale India-Pakistan war in which Pakistan was defeated, and East Pakistan emerged as the independent state of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971. If India succeeded in this case, it failed in Sri Lanka, where its initial covert support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) became overt support and eventually misfired (details are not relevant here).

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States has been conducting operations in many parts of the world, often unsuccessfully. In Pakistan, the United States curiously claimed to fight Soviet invaders in Afghanistan covertly with the help of Pakistan’s ISI, whereas the CIA supplied everything, i.e. arms, money, etc.—so much so that the ISI diverted enormous amounts of money and arms for use against India.  For decades, however, U.S. actions in the Af-Pak region have ceased to be covert.

India’s covert actions in Pakistan have a somewhat chequered history.  During the time of the Bangladesh liberation struggle of 1971, India assisted rebel groups in Afghanistan and Balochistan. Strangely, the success of the 1971 liberation struggle in Bangladesh probably generated a false complacency, and India stopped assistance to Baloch irregular forces battling the Pakistani armed forces. India also cut down its commitment to anti-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan.

In the 1980s, India’s RAW, mandated by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, took action against Pakistan to counteract its assistance to the Khalistanis. Some principal Pakistani cities, e.g. Karachi, Lahore, suffered from small-scale, though repeated, bomb attacks.  Circumstantial evidence suggests that such covert campaigns by the RAW might have induced Pakistan to desist from mobilising Khalistanis in India’s Punjab. But, as Perkovich and Dalton significantly note:  “Former Indian officials add that the ISI’s diminished involvement in Punjab corresponded with its mobilization of the violent insurgency in Kashmir.”[13]

In 1997-1998, India’s Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral practised a doctrine (whimsical and ill-considered in the opinion of this reviewer) that meant extending benefits to a neighbour (even as hostile as Pakistan) without any reciprocity. “As part of his peace offensive,” write Perkovich and Dalton on page 145, “Gujral ordered the RAW to cease covert actions in Pakistan and to demobilize the assets that had been developed to pursue them.”[14] Of course, collection and analysis of intelligence continued as part of the RAW’s activities in Pakistan. There was a strong expectation among the RAW officers that Gujral’s successor, Atal Behari Vajpayee, would order the resumption of covert operations in Pakistan. The expectation was short-lived. Vajpayee’s refusal shocked the RAW. Perkovich and Dalton are correct when they observe: “Critics still blame Inder Gujral for the diminution of India’s willingness and capability to conduct covert operations in Pakistan, the fact that the revered Vajpayee concurred in this judgement deserves more attention.”[15]

Pakistan frequently complains of covert manoeuvres by India in Balochistan and Sind. Although this reviewer wishes these complaints to be correct, as a solitary scholar he is unable to assess the authenticity of Pakistani allegations against India.  He finds it safe to refer to a pithy and authoritative comment by Perkovich and Dalton: “Reports of Indian practice over the past decades suggest that covert violence has been rare, but covert funding for political agitation less so.”[16]

General V.K. Singh, India’s Army Chief, authorised New Delhi’s Military Intelligence apparatus to establish a covert actions unit in mid-2010. “Singh was determined,” write Perkovich and Dalton, “to develop a capability to respond quickly, secretly, and more-or-less symmetrically to another Mumbai-like attack.”[17] As in every chapter, so in this chapter on covert operations, Perkovich and Dalton unfold a resplendent repertory of policy options for India, and then talk of the most valuable one on page 154: “Perhaps the best option would be to create the impression that India has the means to target individuals and disrupt operations, but will not employ them unless and until India is attacked again.”[18]

It is not feasible to attempt an evaluation of the numerous options analysed by Perkovich and Dalton simply because that will mean writing another book.  We pass on to Chapter 5: “Nuclear Capabilities.”

In a sense, after all that has been written in earlier chapters of the book about the possibilities and dangers of even a limited conventional response by India to a sub-conventional  (or terrorist) attack by Pakistan escalating into a nuclear conflict, Chapter 5 may be regarded as a little superfluous. But non-specialist readers will benefit immensely from authentic data supplied by Perkovich and Dalton. To list briefly some of these data and insightful comments may be deemed to be permissible here. This reviewer may also add something from his own researches.

India has long been suffering from inferiority to Pakistan in the field of nuclear capabilities—despite India being the first to test a nuclear device in 1974.  Sanctions were imposed by America and other nuclear suppliers. Indian political leaders failed to order weaponisation due to thoughtless and imaginary fears of economic dangers. The much-trumpeted independence of India’s foreign policy remained a misnomer. Post-1974 sanctions could hurt, but not cripple, Indian scientists. But they were greatly inconvenienced by the failure of India’s political leaders to order a few more tests after 1974. The suspension of nuclear tests, however, did not prevent Indian scientists from extracting maximum research benefits from the first test by using computer simulations, by fabricating a multiplicity of designs, through experiments with improvements in weapon configurations, and by testing components of weapons at a reduced weight. India’s political decision-makers persisted in timidity which could not but frustrate Indian scientists.[19]

This pusillanimity of India’s political leaders in acquiring a nuclear deterrent was in sharp contrast to the energy and determination of their counterparts in Pakistan (not to speak of China). India was ahead of China in nuclear reactor technology until 1965, but China soon left India behind. As for Pakistan, as early as 1972, Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan had secretly obtained from a laboratory in the Netherlands the technology to manufacture uranium-based nuclear bomb material.  Pakistan’s atomic bomb programme was quite advanced in 1974, when the first Indian nuclear explosion took place. In January 1978, however, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union, etc. formed a cartel of nuclear suppliers (known as the London Club) that prepared a list of nuclear materials and technology, the transfer of which was to be restricted, so as to preclude the preparation of a nuclear device. Pakistan had one problem: it could not get over the obstacles created by the London Club list, whereas the Indian scientists could do so. Nevertheless, Pakistan could compensate for this deficiency by means of clandestine supplies from Europe, and comprehensive assistance from China. Around 1980, the major western powers became aware that the Pakistani nuclear bomb was ready. One aspect of the Indian reaction was typical—consistent with neither the moralistic claims of pursuing an independent foreign policy, nor with the immense natural/human resources of India—which forwarded entreaties, prayers, etc. to the United States for prevailing upon Pakistan to terminate the nuclear bomb programme. Pakistan did not even pause. Pakistan eventually possessed a nuclear weapon in 1987, but India was still groping. For some years, Indians have to confess, unpublicised U.S. intervention compensated for India’s vulnerability, and pre-empted nuclear blackmail attempted by Pakistan.[20]

Whereas Perkovich and Dalton do not appear to stress some of these above-noted facts, they are candid in recording India’s current nuclear inferiority to Pakistan (pp. 194-96). For example, Pakistan’s capability for production of fissile materials far outstrips that of India’s. It is estimated that for one nuclear weapon that India can produce, Pakistan can manufacture at least four. In regard to nuclear missiles, too, India lags behind Pakistan. India upholds the doctrine of non-first-use of nuclear weapons. But Pakistan’s doctrine renders India’s doctrine unproductive. “By threatening use of nuclear weapons in response to effective Indian conventional military operations, and by accepting greater risk of escalation accordingly,” write Perkovich and Dalton, “it appears that Pakistan has prevented India from dominating the escalation ladder in South Asia.” Moreover, Perkovich and Dalton add: “Pakistan’s acquisition of short-range nuclear weapons that it asserts can be used on the battlefield has compounded India’s dilemmas.”[21] Probably, the most frustrating information for an Indian observer, provided by Perkovich and Dalton, is: “India remains years away from a sea-leg of the triad that could provide the desired assured second-strike capability.”[22]

In this perspective, no useful purpose may be served by any further discussion on the subject of India’s nuclear capabilities. Debates on whether India should aim at a minimum credible nuclear deterrent against Pakistan, or only minimum nuclear deterrent, whether India should plan a punitive or massive retaliation against a nuclear strike by Pakistan—appear to be redundant. Also, the fact that in India civilians exercise control over the use of nuclear weapons, whereas in Pakistan the military officers possess an exclusive control over the disposal of nuclear weapons, have ceased to be important.

We may now move to an analysis of Chapter 6 of the study by Perkovich and Dalton: “Non-Violent Compellence.” The two authors commence this chapter with a positive assessment of the policies of Prime Ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh towards Pakistan. The 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament did not impel Vajpayee to launch any conventional military operation or covert manoeuvres against Pakistan. The 2008 Mumbai massacre, similarly, could not shake Manmohan Singh’s restraint. The argument was that risks of conventional military or covert operations outweighed benefits, and, therefore, it was preferable to carry out propaganda against Pakistan, that would lower Pakistan’s prestige internationally as also domestically.

In the assessment of many Indians (including this reviewer), this argument in defence of inaction vis-a-vis Pakistani terror attacks is far from convincing. After all, logically, there should be inaction even if the houses of India’s president, prime minister, army chief are attacked. There could be questions on whether Pakistan had any international prestige except in the eyes of some Islamic countries and China, and whether Pakistan cared for such prestige. Internally, very few Pakistanis bothered.

A subsidiary argument for inaction by Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh is the decision to concentrate on economic development, and thereby gain international fame. But economic power and international prestige have not ensured any support from the UN or big powers like Britain, the United States, France or Germany, that can restrain Pakistan from launching terror attacks against India. Add to this the fact that the UK and France have suffered from terrorist attacks sponsored or inspired by Pakistan or Pakistani type jihadi countries.

Perkovich and Dalton recommend (p. 228) that India’s aim “would be to mobilize non-violent pressure to hold Pakistan’s government accountable for failing to do its utmost to prevent violent threats to international security that originate on its territory.” This reviewer will now try to assess how realistic is this recommendation. Perkovich and Dalton prefer the term “non-violent compellence” (following Thomas Schelling) to “non-violent pressure.” The first form of such non-violent compellence is the adoption of economic sanctions against Pakistan by such bodies on the UN/the European Union or by specific countries. There is no evidence that India can make this happen. The second form of non-violent compellence is political isolation. Most of the Islamic countries (if not all) will not be a party to isolating Pakistan politically, not simply because Pakistan possesses the so-called Islamic nuclear weapon, but also because those countries favour (even if silently) terror strikes by Pakistan against non-Muslim countries like India. Shia-Sunni conflict may complicate the situation, but that does not benefit India visibly. Moreover, India does not have the power of a United States to be able to influence global agencies to take steps against Pakistan for the purpose of political isolation.

Any reader of Chapter 6 will be deeply impressed (even amazed) by the innovativeness of Perkovich and Dalton. But the capacity for innovations cannot sometimes avoid the trap of anomalies and repetition of what has been noted in the previous chapters. For example, the authors argue:

If non-violent pressure does not work, harsher measures are the alternatives.  To make such a policy most effective, India would still need to reform its management of national defence. It would still need to acquire intelligence, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities that would enable its army, navy, and air force to prevail if Pakistan chose to respond militarily to non-violent pressure. And, because the nuclear shadow would hover over the competition, India still would need a reliable survivable nuclear force postured to deter conflict escalation.[23]

And so, back to square one! Non-violent compellence fails to achieve the professed aim of achieving a balance between benefits and risks.

U.S aid to Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Data from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The authors have produced an outstandingly skilful analysis of the paradoxical impact of Pakistan’s excessively worrisome political economy upon countries that may be inclined to apply sanctions against Pakistan in order to curb its terrorist proclivities (pp. 235-36). This attests to the capacity of all rogue states—and this reviewer cannot conceive of a better term to depict Pakistan—to practise blackmail against potential users of sanctions against a rogue state. Pakistan is so dependent on foreign aid that any reduction in aid by donors will increase the weakness of the Pakistani economy, and enhance the prospects of emergence of terrorists. Again, reduction in external aid and the resultant reduction in government budget for education will lead to a strengthening of madrasa education, which will reinforce the growth of recruits to terror groups.

Perkovich and Dalton do not openly say that Pakistan can blackmail the United States into continuing to supply funds to Pakistan despite Pakistan’s persistence in supporting terrorist groups. But they implicitly recognise this when they write that “American officials worry that cutting support could motivate Pakistanis to become more indulgent of such groups.”[24] The authors also note the complementary view of Pakistani officials that tough measures against terrorist outfits would so alienate them from the Pakistani state as to foreclose the possibility of future reconciliation.[25]

Therefore, the United States does not stop aid to Pakistan or cut it down significantly despite occasional noise by some lawmakers that aid to Pakistan should be conditional upon Pakistan’s determination and ability to restrain the terrorist agencies. Significant U.S. aid continues to flow to Pakistan—e.g. security assistance worth US$ 1.2 billion in 2014.[26] In this context, the authors make a pregnant observation: “It would not be easy to convince policymakers who have invested so heavily in working with Pakistan” that U.S. security assistance to Pakistan should be stopped or even suspended.[27] This reviewer will amplify later in his own way the scope and significance of this observation.

If a reader studies Chapter Six of the Perkovich-Dalton study thoroughly, he may get lost in a maze of arguments and counter-arguments on policy suggestions, as also of provability versus plausibility. Yet, he will be left marvelling at the capabilities of the two authors for conceiving imaginative formulations. For any specific policy guidance, one can turn to page 273 of the concluding chapter. It does not appeal to this reviewer, although he knows from the writings of some New Delhi journalists that they will recommend this guideline. On the Jammu and Kashmir issue (widely though not accurately known as the Kashmir issue), which is at the heart of India-Pakistan relations, Perkovich and Dalton advocate: (1) that India should recognise the existence of a dispute on Kashmir, (2) that India should carry on continuous, long term talks with Pakistan and disgruntled Kashmiris, and (3) that India should try to achieve a reconciliation of the claims of parties to the dispute. This obviously well-intentioned proposal of the two authors represents not only an over-simplification of the Kashmir issue, but suffers from a large number of fallacies enumerated below in an unavoidably summary fashion. (On this subject, many researchers, including this reviewer, have written books and/or long chapters in books).

Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountabatten and his wife Lady Edwina meet the future Pakistan leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah in January 1947. Photo courtesy: Imperial War Museums, London.

Kashmir was an integral part of India in 1947 when Pakistani soldiers led mercenaries recruited from tribal areas to commit an aggression upon India in Kashmir. At that time, as acknowledged by Pakistan President General Ayub Khan in his autobiography, the Indian Army was incomparably superior to its Pakistani counterpart, and it could easily drive out the Pakistani raiders from Indian territory. But the Indian prime minister had committed some avoidable blunders. For instance, he appointed a British citizen, Louis Mountbatten, instead of an Indian, as the Governor-General of India. He also sidelined capable Indian military officers and appointed British citizens as the Chief of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. Moreover, the Indian prime minister vested extraordinary powers in Mountbatten by making him the Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet. The British officers engaged in nasty manoeuvres: (1) to conduct military operations in such a way as to lead to a stalemate, (2) to prevail upon the Indian prime minister to refer the Kashmir issue to the United Nations without first clearing Indian territory of Pakistani invaders, and (3) again calling upon the Indian prime minister to agree to a ceasefire at a time when Pakistanis were fleeing on all fronts. This enabled Pakistan to keep under its occupation approximately one-third of Kashmir, and created the so-called Kashmir dispute out of nothing. The British design was to create a Muslim client state in possession of the strategic Kashmir territory, and thus to win over the Muslim countries in the Middle East, where the British manipulation was facilitating the emergence of the Jewish state of Israel.[28] 

The UN resolutions obliged Pakistan to remove all its forces from Kashmir before the British-Pakistani demand for a reference to the people (or plebiscite). Pakistan neither cared nor could afford to carry out this obligation. In 1965, and again in 1971, Pakistan committed aggression upon India. The UN has currently wiped out Kashmir from its purview. What some foreign authors like Perkovich and Dalton, as also some Indian authors, journalists, and political leaders do not try to introspect upon is the jihadi mindset of the Pakistani ruling circle, which rules out long term, peaceful, effective dialogue. One instance may suffice. General Muhammad Musa headed the Pakistan Army during the 1965 war. Remarkably, he pleaded for the nurturing of a ‘spirit of jihad’ in Pakistani soldiers in his book on the 1965 war published from New Delhi. No wonder that a young Pakistani officer, wounded in the 1965 war and captured by India, rejected the offer of blood transfusion for normal medical treatment because he preferred death to donation of blood by an infidel. It is indeed nearly impossible to negotiate for durable peace—then and now—with an enemy country that can indoctrinate its soldiers with such jihadi bigotry. It should be remembered that on 29 August 1965, three days before launching large scale aggression in Kashmir, Ayub Khan issued a ‘top secret order’ to General Musa, which radiated the jihadi spirit. He wrote: “As a general rule, Hindu morale would not stand more than a couple of hard blows at the right time and place.” Actually, in 1965, it was an open secret that Pakistan, in search of the delusion of a quick victory over India, exhausted in the first three weeks nearly all its ammunition, which were gifted by America and could not be manufactured in Pakistan. That was the moment when Pakistan had to ask for a ceasefire. Although it was not necessary for India to agree to the ceasefire, India did so. As in the case of the 1947-48 war, so in the case of the 1965 war, India made a terrible blunder by agreeing to a ceasefire at a thoroughly inappropriate time. In the 1965 war, India should have carried on the war and occupied some important places like Lahore or Sialkot, which could later on be bartered away against the evacuation of PoK. Once Pakistan was brought to its knees there could be a chance of curbing its jihadi mindset, stopping the India-Pakistan arms race, and benefitting the common people of the two countries by focussing on economic development. Not only was this chance lost, but the dangerous Pakistani view, that Indians (Hindus) were cowards, could not but persist.[29]

Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee was a firm believer in persistent negotiations with Pakistan, despite setbacks, so that durable peace could be established. Pakistan, fortified by U.S. arms and money supplied during the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan, but stashed away for use against India, started a relentless (and still continuing) proxy war against India since the late 1980s. This was the policy of bleeding India by a thousand cuts propounded by Pakistan’s military dictator, Zia ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1977 to 1988. The proxy war is conducted by terrorist outfits trained/armed by Pakistan’s ISI, but sometimes around the Indian border regular Pakistani soldiers, trying to infiltrate into India, may get caught or killed. Pakistan calls these militant outfits non-state actors, which is a misnomer.  Despite continuing depredations by these terrorist agencies, Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Lahore on 22 February 1999, even though a few hours before the visit, Pakistan-backed terrorists slaughtered a number of civilians in Kashmir. Although the Lahore Declaration upheld the need for normalisation of relations, Pakistan’s Army Chief Pervez Musharraf had other ideas that conformed to continuing jihad against India. In May 1999, Musharraf launched the Kargil operation, crossing the Line of Control (LoC) and occupying some Indian bunkers at a height of about 15,000 feet, which were customarily left unoccupied in some periods. By the third week of July 1999, despite an intelligence failure, and the unavailability of advanced surveillance systems, the Indian military, without crossing the LoC, drove out all intruders. Meanwhile, as noted in President Bill Clinton’s book My Life, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan had to secure U.S. President Clinton’s help to secure safe passage for Pakistani soldiers captured by Indians.[30] 

Timeline of Kargil War in May-July 1999. Wikicommons map in public domain.

Subsequently, to cut a very long story brutally short, like Prime Minister Vajpayee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nursed the idea of talks to promote peace with Pakistan, in spite of the continuation of jihadi proxy war. India swallowed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s bait of conducting diplomacy through the media. An Indian television channel broadcast a four-point package of proposals on Kashmir. According to some Indian journalists, this package was a product of months of backroom negotiations between Indian and Pakistani officials. It is bad enough if an Indian television channel obediently publicises Musharraf’s proposals, which can never be accepted at face value (as even his most steadfast ally, America, discovered). It is much worse if Musharraf’s package carries the secret endorsement of Indian officials. For, this will mean another attempt at counterproductive appeasement in a long series of such attempts since 1947-48. The package of 2006 proposed that the LoC in Kashmir should cease to be relevant, that all troops should be withdrawn, and that the people should gain self-governance and establish a state under the joint supervision of India and Pakistan. The prima facie absurdity of the package does not need much elaboration. There is vast asymmetry between the nature of self-rule (if any) in PoK and in the Kashmir state of the Indian union. New Delhi has no right to challenge the legal and popular foundation of the J&K state (briefly called Kashmir) where sometimes the voter turn-out in a general election can be as high as 70 per cent. Moreover, in an important survey conducted in the first decade of the 21st century by a British non-government organisation, only 6 per cent opted for Pakistan, 33 per cent could not decide, whereas 61 per cent chose to stick to the Indian union. In these circumstances, to consider seriously Musharraf’s four-point package is to forget the lessons of history, especially Pakistan’s perfidy towards India. For one, among numerous instances, in January 2004, by means of a joint India-Pakistan statement, Pakistan promised not to permit any part of Pakistani territory (and PoK) to be used for cross-border terrorism against India. Pakistan never fulfilled that promise. Musharraf’s four-point formula had the transparent aim of strengthening jihad and destabilising India.[31] 

Indian Army soldiers capture a hill from Pakistani intruders in the Kargil War.

Photo courtesy: Indian Army.

Results of the February 2008 parliamentary elections in Pakistan led to the emergence of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, Asif Ali Zardari, as the president of Pakistan, following Musharraf’s resignation as president in August 2008. Consequently, Musharraf’s four-point package died a natural death.

The present situation in Kashmir has to be properly assessed by those who advocate talks with Pakistan and with Kashmiris. It is clear from what has been noted above that Kashmir is India’s internal matter, and, in the assessment of this reviewer, Kashmir cannot be discussed with Pakistan. Jammu, Ladakh, and the northern part of the Kashmir valley are normal. Parts of southern Kashmir, which witness disturbances, are a very small part—not more than 30 per cent of the geographical area—of the whole of Kashmir (properly J&K). Most Kashmiris do not favour militancy, although some of them are forced to join the militants since otherwise they and their families come under attack. Kashmiris eagerly join the police, the army and the civil services, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the elite public service. The Indian armed forces carry out a lot of social welfare work in the areas of health and education. The Indian military and the J&K police (JKP) can subdue the Kashmiri dissidents with proper instructions from the J&K and central authorities. After all, what many analysts forget, the government of West Bengal, in cooperation with the government of India, could stamp out in the middle of the 1960s and the early 1970s the Naxalite menace which was no less severe in the then circumstances of absence of weapons like AK-47 rifles, etc. than the present menace in Kashmir, and had foreign support. In the interpretation of this reviewer, the authorities could stamp out the menace because they could take extraordinarily tough measures (heedless of collateral damages), and avoided two traps: the democracy trap and the secularism trap. In J&K, state and central authorities fall into the democracy trap as they pursue the vote bank politics, remain sensitive to mindless criticism by politicians, especially opposition party politicians, which need not be elaborated beyond a mention of how opposition parties of today (in their United Progressive Alliance, or the UPA, avatar) committed a treachery on the Indian people by portraying the Samjhauta Express blasts of 2007 as an act committed by Hindu terrorists. Pakistani suspects planted bombs on the train. After they were caught, the investigating officer (IO) was constrained to release the Pakistanis after incomplete investigations on the orders of a senior officer. In June 2017, the same IO testified in a court to confirm this partiality of the UPA regime, which invented a Hindu terrorist movement. The UPA regime did so despite the finding of the UN and the U.S. State Department that Pakistani terrorists carried out the Samjhauta Express blast. All this was revealed by Times Now television channel on 20 and 21 June 2017, and shocked the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. State and central  authorities also fall into the secularism trap because there are many so-called intellectuals and human rights advocates, who care more for the human rights of terrorists than for the human rights of victims, and there are many authors and journalists who denounce any action against Muslim militants, even if legitimate, as a violation of secularism. This leads to such unbelievable practices as giving cushy jobs to sons of Syed Salahuddin, declared as a global terrorist by the U.S., and spending millions of rupees on police protection to separatist leaders as also devising facilities for the children of separatist leaders, so that they can obtain lucrative assignments in India or abroad.[32]

The facts noted above should not be unknown to Indians who are enamoured of Musharraf’s four-point formula, but Perkovich and Dalton may be excused if they are not aware of these and related facts, or, their deep significance in the specific Indian context. On 10 July 2017, for instance, seven pilgrims died and nineteen received serious injuries when terrorists attacked Amarnath pilgrims. The ready wit and bravery of a Muslim driver, Salim Sheikh, saved a large number of passengers as he drove through a hell of bullet fire. Since all pilgrims were Hindus, the secularist lobby went into action in newspapers and television channels, arguing that terrorists had the nasty design to create communal conflicts and destabilise India.  Whereas all possible steps should be taken to prevent communal flare-ups, especially because the behaviour of driver Salim is not an exception in J&K, the implicit suggestion of secularists (which they do not have the guts to explicate) is that actions against terrorists must not be so stern as to lead to communal conflicts. The query of a lady Professor, Syed Tanveer Nasreen, as to whether movements like ‘Not in My Name’ will shed tears for Amarnath victims, should quench the misplaced zeal of secularists. Actually, the reprehensible attack on pilgrims—all from Gujarat—plotted by LeT commander Abu Ismail, a Pakistani, justifies the elimination of all local terrorists (not more than 300) at the first stage, and taking on at the second stage the terrorist launching pads in PoK. The elimination of terrorists must not exclude stone pelters, who have often enabled top ranking terrorists to escape. Occasionally, Indian security forces did not hesitate to kill stone pelters in order to eliminate a top-ranking LeT terrorist. It should be added that stone pelters, whatever their age, work systematically as the agents of Pakistani handlers, and their incentives are not only financial benefits but also narcotics as stimulants for abnormal behaviour. Human rights apologists may not approve of this approach to stone pelters, just as they do not appreciate the exceptionally innovative act of Major Leetul Gogoi, who tied Farooq Ahmad Dar (a stone pelter) to the bonnet of an army jeep in pursuit of the legitimate doctrine of minimum force.  The J&K State Human Rights Commission (JKSHRC) has asked the state government to pay a compensation of Rs.10 lakh (US$ 15,600) to Farooq. Gogoi saved eight Election Commission officials trapped by hundreds of stone pelters without killing anyone. Unfortunately, even a retired IAS officer has denounced Gogoi’s behaviour and criticised the Indian Army Chief in an ugly fashion for rightfully honouring Major Gogoi. No critic of Gogoi has been able to identify any action demonstrably superior to the application of minimum force by Gogoi.[33]

All this is enough to discard the well-meaning suggestion of Perkovich and Dalton that India should persist in talks with Pakistan despite the continuance of a jihadi proxy war by Pakistan. They have not attached as much importance to monstrous human rights violations in PoK as an Indian author would do. This reviewer will bypass it, as also the complexities arising out of China’s presence in PoK, and come to the broader question on page 28 of the book, quoted in the early part of this review. This relates to the lack of articulation by India of a ‘comprehensive strategy’ and of attendant resources/methods acquired/deployed to motivate Pakistan to reduce the terrorist menace. The term ‘strategy,’ as we noted earlier, can create confusion. ‘Objectives’ may be the preferable term. Here we can point out that India does not have the capabilities of a United States to formulate a detailed analysis of strategy, resources, etc. as desired by Perkovich and Dalton. One can further point out that the United States, too, may not always claim to have an elaborate strategy. In this context, this reviewer proposes to refer to what he considers to be one of the best guidebooks on foreign policy analysis, The Pentagon Papers.[34]

To cut a long story short, the Introduction and Foreword of The Pentagon Papers will be mainly used in this review. The term ‘strategy’ is missing. What appears is much more sensible and intelligible: “The papers tell what decisions were made, how and why they were made, and who made them.”[35] If we have to find out whether decisions add up to a policy, and whether a package of policies coalesces into a strategy or (what is more easily comprehensible) a long term objective conducive to national interest, we may consider some specific actions. Independent sources recorded impressive evidence of how U.S. aircraft destroyed North Vietnamese villages even without any industry or militarily important target located inside the villages or in their vicinity. At a time when two-thirds of the world’s population suffered from chronic poverty, the United States systematically destroyed the bases of industrialisation in an underdeveloped state like North Vietnam.[36] Even medical facilities were not spared. One model colony for lepers was bombed 39 times by a U.S. airman.[37] The lack of concern among U.S. policymakers  for the sufferings of the North Vietnamese (belonging to an enemy country) made itself felt even in their inhuman treatment of the people of South Vietnam (a U.S. ally fighting North Vietnam, though not successfully). From 1962 to 1969 (to take an example), the U.S. food destruction programme in South Vietnam led to the spraying of 6,397,000 pounds of chemical upon 688,000 acres of land, i.e. upon nine per cent of South Vietnam’s farm land.[38] The aim was to deny food and forest cover to the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF, described derogatorily by the American forces as “Vietcong” or Vietnamese Communists) fighters that were backed by Communist North Vietnam and were successfully overcoming U.S. onslaughts and entering into South Vietnam.

Americans obviously grew impatient with the failure of their superiority in technology and resources (whatever the strategy/policy/decision bundle) to counteract the NLF’s political and military skills. Impatience goaded them to rely still more heavily on the technology of destruction, e.g. on new defoliation techniques (rather than on the politics of construction), to commit further atrocities on the ordinary people, and thus paradoxically generate greater popular support for the NLF. The people would lend willing ears to the NLF plea that Americans thought they were a master race with the right to bring desolation to Vietnam. “To apply scorched earth tactics to one’s own country is heroic; to apply it to a country one claims to be saving is brutal and cowardly.”[39]

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (from left) greet South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem at Washington National Airport on 5 August 1957. Photo courtesy: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Maryland.

Yet, those Americans who forged the decisions/policies/objectives/strategies for the Vietnam War were men of the greatest intellectual power. They were The Best and the Brightest, to use the title of a book by David Halberstam.[40] A few lines from The Pentagon Papers deserve to be quoted: that will exempt this reviewer from any charge of misrepresentation of the views/actions of The Best and the Brightest.

The written language of these men, and that of a number of the Pentagon authors, is the dry, sparse language of problem-solving. These are the “Option A,”  “Option B,” and “Option C,” and the scenarios for war planning, and the phrases like “wider action” and “overt military pressures” to describe open warfare. The conflict in Indo-China is approached as a practical matter that will yield to the unfettered application of well-trained minds and of the bountiful resources in men, weapons and money that a great power can command.  . . . There is an absence of emotional anguish or moral questioning of action in the memorandum and cablegrams and records of the high level policy discussions.[41]

There were exceptional cases of expressions of moral reservations, which did not have such impact on policy. More on the Vietnam policy of the United States will be provided later in this review. 

Meanwhile, another epoch-making aspect of U.S. policy, i.e. what is related to the phenomenon of 9/11, may be analysed with extreme brevity. One has to inquire whether 9/11 could be foreseen even partially, and forestalled. The 9/11 Commission Report—a wonderful policy narrative—provides some vital clues to facilitate this inquiry. The Report does not hesitate to indulge in self-criticism. It admits that the imagination is not deemed to be a virtue of bureaucracy. In August 1998, there was an intelligence report that some Libyans might try to batter the World Trade Centre with an aircraft. In September that year, again, there was an intelligence report of a conspiracy to smash a plane (full of explosives) on an American city. Subsequently, on one occasion, the U.S. Counterterrorism Security Group even analysed the possibility of an aircraft being hijacked by Al Qaeda. Therefore, 9/11 could not be assessed by policymakers as unforeseen nor unforeseeable. Over a number of decades, since the Pearl Harbor surprise attack of 1941, U.S. officials steadily worked on and refined elaborate techniques on how to track down and warn against a surprise attack. The efficacy of these techniques could not be tested before the occurrence of 9/11 because they were never tried.[42]

It is easy to criticise a government—any government (including the Indian one )—for failure to cope with terrorist attacks. And more so, when these are launched by Al Qaeda that has a loose worldwide organisation without any identifiable assets, territory or cadres/supporters. No task can be conceivably more difficult and no criticism for failure can be deemed to be absolutely accurate. In a sense, the United States was less globalised than Al Qaeda. U.S. decision-makers were so great as intellectuals that, instead of considering how to smash Al Qaeda in the best possible manner, they engaged in debates. One debate was on whether Al Qaeda was a “first order threat.” Another debate was on whether Al Qaeda’s “terrorist network was a nuisance that killed a score of Americans every 18-24 months,” or whether Al Qaeda was the spearhead of “radical” Islam. On 4 September 2001, one brilliant decision maker launched a “blistering protest about foot dragging in the Pentagon and at the CIA.” But, “no one forced the argument into the open by calling for a national estimate or a broader discussion of the threat. The issue was never joined as a collective debate by the U.S. government, including the Congress, before 9/11.” There was thus a touch of tragic inevitability to the 9/11 catastrophe.[43] The official account of the catastrophe mentioned the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, an aborted assault by an aircraft in Pennsylvania, and an attack on the Pentagon.

Anyone can put the pertinent question to this reviewer on why, in reviewing the Perkovich-Dalton study, he is delving into The Pentagon Papers and the 9/11 Commission Report. The answer is, if the United States, with incomparably superior machineries of war and information, compared to India, can commit peculiar blunders at various levels of decision/policy/objective/strategy, Perkovich and Dalton may have been somewhat remiss in assessing Indian deficiencies at all these levels. The authors have also been reticent (if not negligent) on whether the military-industrial combine in the United States cannot substantially diminish (far less eliminate) security assistance to Pakistan despite indefinite lapses in the use of this assistance for executing the war on terror. They provide a mild hint on page 242 of their book.  But this reviewer deems it obligatory to emphasise the operation of (what President Dwight D. Eisenhower first called) the military-industrial complex in the case of the Vietnam War as also in the matter of failure to avert the 9/11 attack. After all, the U.S. military-industrial complex, by its occasionally and apparently puzzling behaviour, can affect adversely the whole world, including India. But for the operations of the U.S. military-industrial complex, India could have easily averted Pakistani terror attacks, and the people of Pakistan too would not have to confront a nearly failing terror-loving state. But it is not fair to expect Perkovich and Dalton to acknowledge this.

First, let us again deal briefly with the Vietnam War. The majority of Americans seemed to support the U.S. role in the Vietnam War—even if silently—as long as it did not pose a serious menace to their affluence. They gave little encouragement to anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. Perhaps, they refused to countenance threats (even if short term) to their living standards arising out of a possible transformation of the armaments economy in consequence of a successful anti-war movement. The organised section of labour kept largely aloof from anti-Vietnam War agitations. As late as May 1971, I.F. Stone explained this phenomenon as follows: “Clearly the organised labour movement, rank and file as well as leadership, is still wedded to the military-industrial complex by bread and butter as well as ideology.”[44]

The Vietnam War is an old half-forgotten story, but not the U.S. military-industrial complex. Even the 9/11 story is now being retold in a way sustaining the military-industrial complex. The 9/11 Commission Report, although authentic, often creates the bizarre feeling that the attacks were not pre-empted voluntarily. This is reminiscent of the fake Tonkin Gulf incident, falsely signifying North Vietnamese aggression upon the United States, which permitted the U.S. military to cross a threshold and step up its campaign in Vietnam. By the middle of 1965, the Americans should have been thoroughly familiar with an impressive body of evidence—as reflected in newspaper accounts—of how the U.S. government was resorting to distortions or double-talk, concealment or obfuscation, half truths or falsehoods, in its public pronouncements on Vietnam. Towards the end of 1965, one important newspaper wrote: “A government, like a man, can be caught in only a few misrepresentations before people refuse to believe anything it says. Much of the current clamour against the U.S. Vietnamese policy is probably based on just such a feeling.”[45] In the case of the 9/11 attack, “A growing number of scientists, engineers, architects and academies have questioned the U.S. government’s official story that Middle Eastern fanatics carried out the worst terrorist attack on American soil.”[46] One question relates to the World Trade Center 7. This was the third skyscraper which collapsed a few hours following the destruction of the iconic Twin Towers.  The 9/11 Commission Report does not even mention WTC 7, the third tower, probably because it fell in such a way as to indicate that the destruction was carried out by an insider. As to the Twin Towers, none could find the wreckage of an aircraft that hit the Towers. Moreover, neither at the Pentagon, nor in Pennsylvania, the other sites of the 9/11 incident, was there any evidence of a plane crash. This challenge to the official story has been offered by Americans, not by any Arab.[47]

In such matters as the operations of the U.S. military-industrial complex, it is not possible to furnish any proof that will be deemed to be irrefutable by all observers. But enough circumstantial evidence has been provided to substantiate the operations of the U.S. military-industrial complex in the case of the Vietnam War and the 9/11 catastrophe. We cannot but refer to the First World War in which more than 53,000 Americans died, whereas weapon manufacturers made gigantic profits, and there was a debate on whether merchants of death influenced U.S. decision-makers to join the First World War.[48] In the current context of India-Pakistan confrontation, merging into the Af-Pak situation and multi-dimensional Islamist terrorism, it is possible to revive the debate on whether the U.S. government has been colluding with the merchants of death—although American scholars like Perkovich and Dalton may not appreciate this—beyond recording elegant limits.

It is advisable in this connection to refer to a U.S. State Department publication released in July 2017.[49] This valuable publication states clearly that the Pakistan government did not carry out any effective action against agencies like the LeT or JeM, which target India regularly. Terrorist agencies enjoy “safe havens” in Pakistan, according to this publication. The LeT and JeM enjoy all facilities to train and finance their cadres, and to keep their organisation in a proper shape. Pakistan has the unique capacity to ban the LeT, and yet enable it to function under the banner of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD). It is a case of seeing or not seeing something at the same time. The United States, too, performs the miracle of simultaneously criticising and encouraging a basically terrorist state, i.e. Pakistan. The United States cannot declare it to be a terrorist state, because that will force Washington to stop military aid to Pakistan, and thereby hurt the merchants of death. From time to time, the United States promises to cut aid to Pakistan and/or publicises the imposition of conditions on disbursement of aid. For instance, Pakistan may be threatened with an aid cut if it refuses to put effective curbs on terror outfits inside the country. Seldom is the reduction of aid or fulfilment of conditions taken seriously by either the United States or Pakistan. The latest instance is the recommendation of the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2016. The Committee has recommended that Islamabad must obtain a certificate from the U.S. Secretary of State that Pakistan has taken effective measures against indigenous terrorist agencies before it can obtain US$ 47 billion under Overseas Contingency Operations which is, incidentally, less than the previous year by US$ 10 billion. This recommendation has to travel a long way through the Congress, and it is hard to predict the outcome.[50] Probably, the most recent and picturesque evidence of the operations of the U.S. military-industrial complex are the two arms deals of President Donald Trump in May-June 2017. Amidst war cries of Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Middle East against Qatar, “Trump signs largest areas deal in American history with Saudi Arabia,”[51] and in a few weeks Qatar signed an arms deal with the United States.[52]

In tune with U.S. Standard Operating Procedure, from time to time a token cut of a minimal amount of coalition support fund to Pakistan in the war on terror is announced. U.S. Defence Secretary confused Indians and anti-establishment Americans in late July 2017, and cut down US$ 350 million of this fund.[53] Of real significance is what Larry Pressler, a former U.S. Republican Senator, has observed in his latest monograph Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator’s Quest for Disarmament, in a Nuclear Subcontinent.[54] In his view, like North Korea, Pakistan should be treated as a “rogue state,” which has been blackmailing the United States into pouring aid to Pakistan, so that Pakistan can fight terrorism. But, Pressler complains that Pakistan is actually sheltering terrorists, and, therefore, the United States should form a “super alliance” with India to combat terrorism. “Unless Pakistan changes its ways with respect to terrorism, it should be declared a terrorist state. Several leading foreign policy experts besides me have urged as much,” writes Pressler (whose earlier activities about Pakistan as a Senator cannot be recorded here for lack of space and of relevance to the current situation).[55] Nobody can perhaps expect the U.S. administration to heed the advice of Larry Pressler, which will be shocking to the merchants of death. This is why, in an exclusive interview to an Indian newspaper on his book Neighbours in Arms, Pressler observes: “Pentagon is the most powerful part of the U.S. government. It is not only the Pentagon, but it is the arms construction business, law firms . . .  it permeates all over.” He adds: “Secretary of Defence is not only a person, he is a system . . .  Some people have said, our economy needs a large public works programme and building arms is one such.”[56]

From the abovementioned information and analyses, one is tempted to go back to an old phrase of policy sciences—“muddling through”—or an even older phrase—“trial and error.” These phrases probably provide a realistic view of India’s policy towards Pakistan. To be brief, one has to draw a distinction between pre-2014 policy and post-2014 policy of muddling through. In pre-2014 days, in general, if Pakistan fired one bullet across the LoC in pursuit of its proxy war, the Indian armed forces might or might not respond with another bullet. Today, if Pakistan fires one bullet, India will retaliate by not less than five bullets. That is why sometimes one reads in the newspapers that the Indian envoy to Pakistan is summoned to the Pakistan foreign office for protests against Indian shots across the LoC. Moreover, occasionally India stages a systematic strike upon the terrorist camps in PoK, against which, in order to hide its shame, Pakistan does not protest and tries to deny altogether the occurrence of such a strike—as evident from the statements of a number of retired Pakistani military officers appearing on India’s Times Now television shows on the Indian “surgical strike” of mid-2016.

Perkovich and Dalton are great scholars. Their intellectual asceticism does not permit much appreciation for the role of the merchants of death in U.S. foreign policy, or for “muddling through” in Indian foreign policy. Even if sometimes one feels lost in the labyrinth of complex policy options, Not War, Not Peace marks a summit of academic excellence. It is compulsory reading for students and teachers, for those in the field of social sciences, as well as for lawyers and policymakers.

Dr. Jayanta Kumar Ray is National Research Professor, Government of India.  He is also Honorary Adviser, Centre for Research in Indo-Bangladesh Relations, Kolkata, and Honorary Professor, Institute of Foreign Policy Studies at Calcutta University. He has written thirty books on international relations, diplomacy, global and national politics, and geostrategy, the most recent being India's Foreign Relations 1947-2007; Cross-border Terrorism: Focus On Pakistan; and India Myanmar Connectivity (with Prabir De). His numerous articles have appeared in peer reviewed journals like Asian Affairs, The Calcutta Historical Journal, The Journal of Social Studies, South Asian Studies, and others.

[1] Perkovich and Dalton, Not War, Not Peace, 4.

[2] Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966).

[3] Perkovich and Dalton, 27.

[4] Fred Nickols, Strategy: Definitions & Meanings, www.nickols.us/strategy_definitions.pdf.

[5] Perkovich and Dalton, 27-28.

[6] Ibid, 28.

[7] Ibid, 79.

[8] The Statesman, Kolkata, 1 July 2017.

[9] For details, see the chapter on “Relations with China” in Jayanta Kumar Ray, India’s Foreign Relations 1947—2007 (New Delhi/London: Routledge, 2016).

[10] Report from Beijing by Agencies, The Statesman, Kolkata, 30 June 2017.

[11] Perkovich and Dalton, 81.

[12] Ibid, 130.

[13] Ibid, 144.

[14] Ibid, 145.

[15] Ibid, 146.

[16] Ibid, 147.

[17] Ibid, 148.

[18] Ibid, 154.

[19] Ray, India’s Foreign Relations, 727.

[20] For necessary details, see Ray, India’s Foreign Relations, 726-32.

[21] Perkovich and Dalton, 198.

[22] Ibid, 195.

[23] Ibid, 229.

[24] Ibid, 238.

[25] Ibid, 239-240.

[26] Ibid, 237.

[27] Ibid, 242.

[28] For necessary details including references to primary/secondary sources, see Ray, India’s Foreign Relations, Chapter 3, “Relations with Pakistan,” 113-96.

[29] Ibid.

[30] For necessary details, including references to primary and secondary sources, see Ray, Indian’s Foreign Relations, Chapter 3; also for a reference to Bill Clinton’s My Life, see Kuldip Nayar, “Musharraf’s Outbursts,” The Statesman, Kolkata, 21 May 2015.

[31] For necessary details, see Ray, India’s Foreign Relations, Chapter 3.

[32] Pravesh Jain, “Why PM must intervene directly in Kashmir,” The Statesman, 18 June 2017, for a reference to the geographical extent of disturbances in J&K; and Vishal Monga, “Samjhauta probe: Prasad questions UPA cover-up,” The Times of India, 22 June 2017.  Also see, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, a member of the BJP’s Central Election Committee and former Union Minister, in an interview by Dipankar Chakraborty, The Statesman, 15 July 2017, wherein Mr Hussain claims that with the liquidation of terrorists the situation in J&K will be normal soon. On 8 July 2017, Times Now television channel broadcast a report by its team of investigators that the sons of Syed Salahuddin, declared by the United States as a global terrorist, have been occupying cushy jobs provided by India’s J&K state, which has also spent (rather wasted) millions of rupees on providing financial support plus security to separatist Hurriyat leaders, and helped their children by remunerative jobs and/or facilities for stay abroad. A PTI report from Srinagar quoted Lt.-Gen. J.S. Sandhu, the GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, who stressed that in the early part of 2017, as many as 15,000 youths assembled to compete for 800 vacancies in the Army, despite the brutal killing of a local Army officer recently by terrorists. Sandhu further informed that in March 2017, in order to fill 200 posts in the J&K Light Infantry, not less than 5,000 candidates turned up (The Statesman, 16 July 2017).

[33] Ashok Kapur, “Hail to the Chief II,” The Statesman, Kolkata, 27 June 2017; PTI report from Srinagar on the slaughter of Amarnath devotees, The Statesman, 11 July 2017; PTI report from Srinagar on JKSHRC award of compensation to Farooq; PTI report from Srinagar and dispatch from Jammu by S.P. Sharma, The Statesman, 12 July 2017 on the Amarnath tragedy, Salim Shaikh, possible Pakistani involvement, and suggested remedies; report of S.P. Sharma from Jammu in The Statesman, 2 July 2017, on the collateral damage for killing a terrorist; Sunil Gupta, “Protect Honour of the Armed Forces,” The Statesman, 2 July, 2017. Also see, Pravesh Jain, “Why PM must intervene directly in Kashmir,” The Statesman, 18 June 2017, on the harsh truth about stone pelters; Reports of Statesman News Service (SNS) and PTI from Srinagar, The Statesman, 13 July 2017; SNS & PTI reports from Srinagar on 15 July 2017, in The Statesman, 16 July 2017 wherein J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told newsmen after the Amarnath carnage: “Kashmir issue is not a law and order problem. It is happening because of external forces. The ongoing fight is a handiwork of external forces and now unfortunately China is also trying to meddle into it”; Harsha Kakar, “Pilgrimage that builds bridges,” The Statesman, 18 July 2017 demonstrates that there is a deep mutual faith between pilgrims and Kashmiri Muslim helpers, which transcends occasional terrorist onslaughts, and permits the continuance of the journey towards the shrine even after the terrorist onslaught; Kashmiri Muslim helpers are from different parts of J&K, including the area south of the Pirpanjal; Srinagar witnessed a candle light procession in condemnation of terrorists, and even ‘Not In My Name’ did so, despite some doubt as to whether they would shed tears for the dead pilgrims.

[34] Neil Sheehan et al., The Pentagon Papers: The Secret History of the Vietnam War (New York: New York Times Company and Bantam, 1971).

[35] Ibid, X.

[36] Gerard Chaliand, The Peasants of North Vietnam (London: Penguin, 1969), 180-81, 195, 209, 225 and 238. 

[37] Mary McCarthy, Hanoi (London: Penguin, 1969), 56.

[38] Douglas F. Dowd, “The Political Economy of War,” in The Wasted Nations: Report of the International Commission of Enquiry into United States Crimes in Indo-China, ed. Browning, Fra and Dorothy Forman (June 20-25, 1971), 21-22.

[39] Neil Middleton, ed., The Best of I.F. Stone’s Weekly (London: Penguin, 1973), 219.

[40] David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (New York: Random House, 1972).

[41] The Pentagon Papers, XV.

[42] The 9/11 Commission Report (New York: Norton, 2004), 344-48.

[43] Jayanta Kumar Ray, Cross-Border Terrorism: Focus on Pakistan (New Delhi: M.A.K. Azad Institute of Asian Studies and Shipra Publications, 2016), 64.

[44] Neil Middleton, ed., The Best of I.F. Stone’s Weekly, 240. Also see Jayanta Kumar Ray, Public Policy and Global Reality: Some Aspects of American Alliance Policy (New Delhi: Radiant Publishers, 1977), Chapter Four.

[45] For this and some well-chosen examples, see United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, News Polices in Vietnam (89th Congress, 2nd Session, 1966), 63-66.

[46] Tulsathit Taptim, “9/11 Truth Movement fights on,” Asia News Network, and Editor-at-large, The Nation (Bangkok), reproduced in The Statesman, Kolkata, 8 July 2017.

[47] Tulsathit Taptim, The Statesman, 8 July 2017; also see Rachel Moore, The Sun (London), 8 September 2016, for a satiric critique of the Truth Movement.

[48] For details, see H.C. Engelbrecht and F.C. Hanighen, The Merchants of Death (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1934).

[49] Bureau of Counter Terrorism, United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2017).

[50] AFP report from Washington, D.C., The Statesman, 21 July 2017.

[51] The Week, 20 May 2017.


[52] Reuters, 15 June 2017.


[53] Report in The Statesman, 22 July 2017.

[54]  Larry Pressler, Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator’s Quest for Disarmament, in a Nuclear Subcontinent (New York: Penguin, 2017).

[55] PTI report from Washington, D.C., The Statesman, 22 July 2017.

[56] Verghese K. George, The Hindu, 21 July 2017.