Sumit Ganguly is no stranger to scholars in international and
strategic studies. His book The Origins of Wars in South Asia is
a popular text with undergraduates. He takes his earlier work
that finishes with the 1971 War further in the volume under review
by beginning with the Kargil War. His is a slim volume covering the
first decade of the century, the beginning of which he dates to this
In his view, Pakistan’s India policy cannot be explained through
the ‘spiral model’. The spiral model relies on the concept of security
dilemma. The security dilemma has it that states, perceiving even
defensive actions of neighbours as threatening, resort to counter
measures that in turn generate a negative threat perception in their
neighbour. This leads to a spiral—hence ‘spiral model’—expressed
through worsening relations, the arms race and recurrent crisis.
Since Pakistan covets Kashmir, to Ganguly, Pakistan is a revisionist
and ‘greedy’ state—‘with nonsecurity motivations for expansion’
(Charles Glaser) (p. 20). Wanting territorial revisionism, its
actions in the security sphere are not a result of a perceived threat
from India that can be attributed to a security dilemma. Nothing
India can do in terms of reassuring Pakistan by reining in its actions
in the defence and security spheres can assuage Pakistan. Therefore,
the recurring crisis and potential for conflict in the subcontinent
cannot be explained by the spiral model.
The deterrence model on the other hand has it that a state’s
security preparedness deters a neighbour from threatening it, but
even such preparedness can be found wanting when confronted with a revisionist state out to change some or other facet of the status quo
or relationship. He uses the deterrence model in appraising India.
To Ganguly, evidence in favour of this model is in the quiescent
period in the seventies and eighties when Pakistan was fended off by
India’s defence preparedness. However, Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession
got an outlet with the outbreak of troubles in Kashmir in the nineties.
Since Pakistan is attempting to overturn the territorial status
quo, India cannot but restrict itself to warding off Pakistan through
defence related measures. This brings Ganguly to his prescription
that, since the deterrence model provides a better vantage for India’s
Pakistan strategy, a strategy informed by deterrence by denial is the
preferred one for India.
Ganguly makes his theoretical case in his opening chapter. He
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