The nationalist interpretation of nuclear deterrence : evidence from the Kargil War
Title: The nationalist interpretation of nuclear deterrence : evidence from the Kargil War
Author: SUZUKI, Akisato
Citation: International politics, 2017, pp 1–17, OnlineFirst
Series/Number: [Europe in the World]; EUI RSCAS; [Global Governance Programme]
ISSN: 1384-5748; 1740-3898
Why did Pakistan initiate the Kargil War with India, so soon after the two states reached overt nuclear status? Existing theories attribute war between nuclear states either to the strategic opportunities of limited conflict or to a closing opportunity of preventive war to destroy the nuclear capabilities of nuclearizing states. However, strategic opportunities explain the possibility of, but not the motivation for, war; after all, the nuclearization of India began long before the war. To develop a better explanation, I propose an original theory of how the theoretical mechanisms of nuclear deterrence can be altered by nationalist conflict. The Indo-Pakistani nationalist conflict not only motivated Pakistan to initiate the war because of its perception of a threat, but also caused both states to overestimate their own deterrence credibility and underestimate the other’s capability and resolve to conduct war. These nationalist motivations and estimations enabled the war between the two nuclear states. The article suggests that nuclear weapons may have different effects on different types of conflict.
Subject: Nuclear weapons; Deterrence; Nationalism; Kargil; India; Pakistan
First Online: 13 December 2017
Type of Access: openAccess
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