The Myth of Indian Strategic Restraint

June 18, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Asia Tags: IndiaStrategyNational SecurityChinaPakistan

The Myth of Indian Strategic Restraint

Indian security policy is guided more by pragmatism than by moralism.

As we have shown, a careful reading of India’s past behavior strongly suggests that this will not be the case. Indeed, quite the opposite is true—India has, since achieving independence, consistently protected its security interests against China and other threats. And it has done so as a developing state, with severely limited strategic resources. As its capabilities grow, India is likely to protect its security interests even more energetically. This does not mean that India will seek out conflict, or that it will allow the United States to embroil it in fights that it otherwise would avoid. But it does mean that India is unlikely to passively accept infringements on its sovereignty or the imposition of authoritarian economic and security architectures in its near abroad. This bodes well for the U.S.-India partnership as the two countries meet the growing strategic challenges of the Indo-Pacific region in the years ahead.

Sumit Ganguly is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Holds the Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington.

S. Paul Kapur is a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, an affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and a visiting fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India. The views that he expresses in this article are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense.

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