LIEUTENANT GENERAL E. A. VAS (Retd), MAJOR GENERAL K.S.PENDSE (Retd) AND Dr. (COLONEL) ANIL A ATHALE (Retd).
The devices tested included a thermonuclear
trigger and two sub kiloton devices.
The paper that follows builds a case for
Most conflicts in history can be safely attributed to the factor of mis-perception. International research journals and media will be doing a great service by giving an opportunity to Indians to put forward their views.
This is an ‘Indo-centric’ analysis and in no way an apologia for Indian actions as most of the logic and prescriptions pre date the nuclear tests.
Ever since the end
of the cold war and the duo-polar
world balance, there has
been a spate of speculation about
future of nuclear weapons and role of force . Some have talked of
end of history,
clash of civilizations and
economics replacing power as the
arbiter of mankind.
In the new situation there is in fact increased threat to countries like
India as the West is attempting to
freeze the current economic and
political balance for
of Indian potential poses a challenge to this staus quo
The demise of Soviet Union is often seen as
victory for capitalism and the
At the same time
it is impossible
to ignore the communications revolution that is
sweeping the world. In the medium and long term, this is likely to change the existing power
balance. Despite strenuous efforts, control of spread of knowledge is an
impossibility. The real challenge before
the world is to
ensure that this
change, that is inevitable
, takes place peacefully. It needs
no reminder that despite all the talk of peace
having broken out at the end of cold war, the terrible instruments of mass destruction, thermo-nuclear weapons ,
are very much in existence
and there seems no early prospect
becoming extinct. The rash of `settling score‘ conflicts
in many regions of the world is a grim reminder of the reality of use of force.
From the ‘Realist’ point of view, the situation is different from
this perception. But while pursuing realist thinking one must remain aware of the
danger of realist thought degenerating
into asserting status quo ante. In the military field that is what happened in
It appears that the world is basically still divided between main and subordinate systems. The main system comprises of the countries of the industrialized North with the former Communist countries on the fringe and attempting to get into the main system. The rest of the world is part of the subordinate system. During the cold war period as well, this division existed. The primary factor of interdependence in the main system at that time was based on the destructive power of nuclear weapons. The states of the subordinate system were in a dependency relationship with the main system. While the changes in the main system affected the states in the subordinate system , the converse was not true to a large extent.
In the post cold war era, with the passing away of the balance of
terror, at the main system level, it is economic interdependence that is the
governing reality. At the level of the main and subordinate system, that is not
so and use of force remains valid. This is what makes the new situation appear
familiar and unchanged to the countries of the third world. But that is only a
superficial view because in the earlier regime, force and balance of terror was
the stabilizing factor at both the levels and thus there was a linkage between the
use of force at two levels that acted as a restraint. With the changes at the
main system level to economic linkages, the use of force against the states in
subordinate system has become autonomous and much more probable. The danger for
The debate in the West on role of force in post cold war era is partly sparked off by
the failure of
Deterrence is a product of capability plus intent, credibility therefore is as important as physical capability. All means are used to constantly convince the adversary about the will to use force. Successful deterrence thus means a fine tuning of ‚all the activities of a nation to convince the credibility of use of force. Strategic studies developed this technique of making use of the ‘threat‘ rather than the force itself to achieve the end ie national security. This is a major departure from past history where the concept of balance of force kept peace but failed from time to time resulting in war. In its place deterrence as a multi dimensional technique managed to keep peace.
Strategy of force as a technique of
keeping peace remains relevant in the post cold war era as well. As stated earlier there is attempt to make it multi-use.
Deterrence which was a two person non zero-sum game is now sought to be made a
global non- zero sum game. This is clearly indiated
by the recent American writings on the subject when there is a search on for a
viable enemy. A parameter that is being used to justify the nuclear weapons is
that these are to deter a possible adversary, yet to be identified. Technology
control regimes like the Non Proliferation treaty (NPT), Missile technology
control regime (MTCR) et al are means to keep that number under check. The new
thinking also believes that deterrence can be used on issues not directly
related to ‘threats‘ and ‘force‘. Taking a farfetched
example, a situation may arise when the shifting rainfall patterns that may
affect Mid Western America or
WORLD SITUATION- ANALYSIS OF TRENDS
Looking at the world, one is struck by the spectre of unchecked
population growth in the poor countries and concentration of technology growth
in the already advanced and develped countries. All
this is taking place in a world that has become a global village. The growth of
technology is confined to the rich North. If study of history is to be
understood as study of society, one sees the diferrence
between the societies that are progressive and are willing to follow the lead
given by creative people within it and societies that are not progressing.
These are the societies in stupor. Unfortunately the Indian society falls in
the second category. It is a society that is very difficult to prod into action
even in its own self interest. The demise of cold war does not affect
While the developmental process is on in
Demise of the
On the issue of denial of technology to the poor and its impact , it must be clearly understood that it is the
population growth that is removing the green cover. This is true of
What is the post cold war world likely to look like
? Paul Kennedy in his book ‘ Preparing for the Twentyfirst Century‘, comments that population explosion in
poor countries and technological revolution amongst the developed ones cannot
lead to peace and stability in the coming century. As a consequence of growing
disparity in incomes, he foresees major wars of redistribution- of people and
resources. It is a well known fact that 23% people in the rich North command
85% of the world income. Alvin Toffler has forecast that simultaneous existence
of agrarian, industrial and informational civilizations is a recipe for
confrontations, strife and wars amongst nations. In this scenario nations such
The Club of Rome in its report ‘ The First Global Revolution‘ wonders whether the graying populations of the developed world will retreat into a ghetto bristling with nuclear weapons in order to keep out the hungry and the deprived peoples of the developing world from demanding their just share in the world cake, monopolized by the affluent west for so long. IN SUCH SITUATION THE GREYING WEST MAY WELL USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS AGAINST THE THIRD WORLD ONSLAUGHT AND IN THE PROCESS DESTROY THE EARTH. Such gloomy forecasts bring to mind the warning given by historian Arnold J. Toynbee years ago that mankind may have to choose between the two extreme alternatives of genocide and learning to live like a single family. Toynbee was obviously echoing the ancient Indian value of ‘VASUDHAIV KUTUMBAKAM‘(All the world is one family).
attempt to understand the world situation
in the Indian context will remain a mere intellectual exercise unless
According to the thesis by Toffler,mentioned earlier, the simultaneously existing agrarian, industrial and informational civilizations have different ways of production, survival needs and working speeds . Consequently there will be differences in outlook towards the concept of nationalism , sovereignty , national interests . Equilibrium , stability and peace are unlikely and instead events like changes in military balance, surge in religious fanaticism or sudden economic changes should some of these issues converge in time and space, the world system may well breakdown. Ronald Higgins in his work ‘The Seventh Enemy‘, has identified these as nuclear proliferation, ecocide, famines leading to mega deaths in the developing countries under condition of population explosion, while the developed world continues its progress in technology and feels confident of finding a technological ‘fix‘ for human problems. It has escaped notice that technology is fast outgrowing human control fuelled by the cycle of ever increasing consumption artificially generated through marketing in order to make mega profits for trans-national corporations who have jumped national barriers.
This frenzied race for consumerism has generated the threats of green house effect & depletion of earth‘s resources, thus jeopardizing the existence of future generations. Thought of future generations and their welfare was the furthest from the thinking of the Western Pundits in their mindless pursuit of nuclear weapons or unbridled consumerism. Such a global system is anything but rational in its behaviour and its future course difficult to predict. However some major trends can be identified and are listed below to facilitate the understanding of the environment.
TECHNO ECONOMIC ISSUES
Communication and information revolution making the world a global village.
Continued emphasis on technological drive in the advanced countries to sustain their growth but denial of the same to developing world to maintain the income differentials.
Continued over exploitation of earth‘s resources to support the Western economic model of growth and wasteful lifestyle oblivious of its effect on ecosphere.
Growing realization of the need to balance budgets as also expenditure on defence, development and domestic consumption. At the same time huge budget deficits and various scams show the dangers of consumerism.
Total autonomy of an individual‘s ‘desires‘, bereft of social responsibility as recently admitted by Ms Margaret Thatcher. There will no longer be any society, only a collection of individuals.
Emerging global lifestyle in which the developing world adopts Western mores and consumption patterns giving rise to crass materialism and also loss of self esteem in the poorer parts of world.
Population explosion in the developing countries , amongst the illiterate and the poorest marking the survival of demagoguery and deceitful leadership there. There may arise support to cultural narrow nationalism and religious fundamentalism as a way out of this morass.
Declining respect for state authorities due to their failure to solve problems and rise of sub nationalism and ethnic fervour as people search for a narrower territorial focus .
POLITICO -MILITARY ISSUES.
Ideology has weakened in favour of economics, concept of absolute national sovereignty is being diluted and individual is having a greater say in the political process as well as demanding equitable standard of living.
Leadership structures are being weakened due to their inability to comprehend the fast developing impact of various issues at various levels. Narrow specializations are becoming mandatory while the incompetent leaders strive to remain in power at the cost of the governed.
For want of holistic view bureaucracies are getting politicised while politics is being criminalised and nation states are living from crisis to crisis.
While influence of the military in decisionmaking is on the wane, it is being increasingly called upon to restore order due to greater recourse to proxy wars , low intensity conflicts and terrorism that is supported across the borders.
Militarisation of space, the ultimate high ground, has led to the development of costly military machine that can only be afforded by the rich thus further widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
As most technologies are of dual use, it has become difficult to prevent horizontal proliferation with even terrorist groups able to develop sophisticated weapons in their backyards.
The year l99l
changed the global balance existing since l945. In place of the
bipolar world we have today a virtual unipolar world.
Robert Oppeinhemer , the father of atomic bomb had asked a question that remains pertinent even today,
‘do we need nuclear weapons to prevent ,win,or limit
war ? ‚.Nuclear weapons were created in the first place to deter use by Nazi Germany .Later these were used
against Japan to save Americans lives in a costly land operations and kept to
deter the ‘other‘ nation. Today with
POSSIBLE THREATS TO INDIAN SECURITY
Right at the start of the nuclear era, when the
India had three basic choices, sign the NPT and IGNORE the job of countering the Chinese, Central Asian & Pakistani nuclear threat to India‘s security and leave it to conventional armed forces, or exercise the nuclear option and create a deterrence force to take care of the conventional and nuclear threat and finally continue with the existing policy of neither signing the NPT nor exercising the nuclear option.
Even as the world was moving towards closing the Indian nuclear
option, de facto, the for the bureaucracy
dominated decisionmaking process in
Signing the NPT with some safeguards was a possibility provided
world restrained the Chinese and Paksitani
adventurism in the subcontinent. Instead
In l964 after the Chinese nuclear test, there was a serious debate
CURRENT INDIAN POSTURE.
The threat to
In this posture Indian strategy of ‘ambiguity‘ will be confined only to our ‘intentions‘. There would be nothing ambiguous about Indian capability (not just potential). To rescue Indian ambiguity from being reduced to a ‘bluff‘ , India needed to carry out a ‘diagnostic‘ thermo- nuclear test. This Indian position does not threaten any one and yet safeguards long term Indian interests.
At a parliamentary consultative committee meeting on February 1,
1996, the then PM Mr Narisinmha Rao
who is also the Defence Minister, confirmed this stance. At this meeting
In everything except open declaration,
MEAURES TO ELIMINATE THE NUCLEAR MENACE
It is dangerous to treat nuclear weapons as useless. If possible, a
Noble peace prize should have been given to the first atomic bomb that has kept
peace for the last 50 years. The
NPT is a selective arms control measure that does not address many
issues. But these issues need to be clearly defined by
a) Nuclear weapon powers should drastically reduce their weapons to show that they are serious.
b) Universal regime of fissile material accountability-neither freeze nor cap but transparency.
c)transparency in missile production .
d)same about aircraft.
e)in a ten years time frame if the above takes place then the threshold powers should declare their assets and join the club.
TIME TABLE TO LESSEN THREATS TO MANKIND.
I NUCLEAR WEAPON POWERS
a) Begin discussions on reducing NWs and ratify CTBT.
b) Threshold powers may attend but need not participate.
II FISSILE MATERIAL.
a) Commence discussion on control. Keynote transparency and protection of commercial interests.
b) All producers to attend.
III MISSILE MANUFACTURE AND CONTROL.
a) Commence discussions on Missile manufacture control treaty (MMC) keynote transparency and protection of commercial interest.
b) All missile producers to attend.
IV NON NUCLEAR WEAPON STATES.
a) Commence discussion on NPT in light of progress made in areas I to III.
b) All non nuclear nations to attend.
c) Threshold powers to discuss desirability of declaring status and joining the club.
V MAJOR CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS.
a) Discuss the need to control sale and manufacture of
i) Fighter bomber aircraft.
ii) Armed helicopters.
iii) Heavy Guns and tanks
b) Same parameters as fissile and missile control. Keynote transparency.
VI SUPERVISION REGULATION AND VERIFICATION.
a) UN to be kept informed.
b) Discuss role composition and powers of the supervisory body.
THE COMPLETION OF ABOVE PROCESS NEEDS AT LEAST FIVE YEARS.
NUCLEAR WEAPON POWERS.
Agreement on phased reduction of NWs, finalization of fissile material and missile production control.
All nations accept open policy on manufacture, storage , sale and inspection.
NON NUCLEAR STATES
Satisfied with the progress on items above all nations sign NPT as non weapon states. Threshold powers with independent capability given option to join as weapon states.
MAJOR CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS.
All nations accept open policy on sale and manufacture on the lines of current norms on ICBM testing.
SUPERVISION,VERIFICATION AND REGULATION
UN approval and setting up of organization to carry out the tasks. All nations have to cumpulsorily forced to accept.
Reduction of NWs, FMC and MMC treaties implemented
All nations accept mandatory sanctions against treaty violations including use of force if necessary. A re organized UN creates a strategic force under joint command to implement the treaties and also to defend earth against extra terrestrial threat if any.
1 Who will organize these deliberations ?
2 Who will bear the cost ?
3 How will the implementation cost be borne ? ( A world Tax ?).
The time frame may well appear unduly optimistic. It can well be streched to even two decades. The proposal also offers flexibility as the process can linger on at any one phase without detriment to any one. The two most important points are , a it forces the nuclear haves to make a commitment and pay a price and secondly it attempts to tackle the whole gamut of use of force and not merely nuclear weapons. Piecemeal approach is unlikely to work as the arms race will merely shift into other areas.
The fact is that while
Most Indians agree on the issue of
Ideas and alternatives that have been thrown up in this discussion have one singular aim, how do we
create the restraint of the cold war era without the nuclear terror.
Undoubtedly this restraint was one aspect of the cold war that is missed much
today. Recreating this to control nuclear weapon menace is the real challenge
before us. Even the nuclear weapons powers should welcome this as nuclear
threat has never worked. Even when it appeared to have worked against
NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Most of the the ideas and arguments given in this paper were first put forward at a University of Pune seminar in February 1994 and during a discussion on NPT on 18 March 1995. For a complete exposition of the view of authors on this subject, readers may refer to “Nuclear Menace: The Satyagraha Approach” published in May 1997.
l. Jungk Robert, BRIGHTER THAN THOUSAND SUNS,Penguin Books, Middlessex, England et al,1960. pp 83-l0l.
The logic of scientists who feared the Germans getting the atom bomb
first was based on the fact that as
2.Ibid, pp 147-158.
Gilpin Robert,AMERICAN SCIENTISTS AND
NUCLEAR WEAPON POLICY,
3. Kothari D S,NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THEIR
EFFECTS, Publications Division Govt of
Gilpin, op. cit. p.40. „---- on the basis of World War II experience ,strategic bombing was so ineffective in comparison to the effort expended that its future was actually in doubt—„
Quester George H , NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY : THE FIRST TWENTY FIVE YEARS,
Dunellen Pub Co Inc,
4 Brodie Bernard, STRATEGY IN MISSILE AGE,
Agakhan Sadruddin (Ed),NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND
CLIMATIC CATASTROPHE : SOME POLICY IMPLICATIONS, Claredon
Keller C M et al (Ed), NUCLEAR DETERRENCE : NEW RISKS -NEW OPPORTUNITIES, Peragamon-Brasey‘s, Washington et al, 1986. Chapter V.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, vol 244, no 4, Apr 1981, „Catastrophic Release of Radio Activity „ by Fetter S A & Tsipis K , pp. 33-39.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, VOL 251,NO 2, Aug 1984, „The climatic effects of nuclear war“, by Turco R P et al, pp. 27-29.
INTERNATIONAL DEFENCE REVIEW, vol 14,no 9,“Nuclear fallout the real deterrent“ by Lt Col Hamming N, p.1120.
One megaton explosion will make a crater 400 feet deep and 1200 feet
in diameter. At the maximum acceptable dose of 2 Rems
per annum, 1200 sq miles of land will become unfit for living for one year.Even today 367,000 Japanese still suffer the effects
of radiation in the aftermath of
Even if only 40 % of the world nuclear arsenals explode the awesome emission will exceed 100 million metric tonnes. If spread uniformly over the globe , 95% of the sunlight will be blocked. Even considering the lower level threshold nuclear war involving ‚only‘ 100 Mt weapons , the effect in short term will be akin to nuclear war involving 10,000 Mt weapons. Difference will only be in the duration for which the effect will last.
Resistance to acceptance of apocalyptic pronouncements regarding the effects of nuclear war are due to, fortunately, ‚theoretical ‚ nature of the study, psychological denial of reality syndrome and need of the politicians to justify the arms race making the nuclear war and nuclear weapons thinkable.
6 Jacobson Carl G (Ed) THE UNCERTAIN COURSE, SIPRI, Oxford University Press, Oxford et al , 1987.
Brewer Garry D & Shubik M , THE WAR GAME: A CRITIQUE OF MILITARY PROBLEM SOLVING,
FOREIGN AFFAIRS,vol 32 , no 2, Jan 1954, „Nuclear weapons :strategic and tactical“,Brodie Bernard, pp. 217-229. FOREIGN AFFAIRS, vol 34 , no 2, Jan 1956, „ Atoms , strategy & policy“,by Nitze Paul,pp. 187-195.
Stability was not a product of nuclear stalemate between the
7. Gerard Chaliand, REVOLUTION IN THE THIRD WORLD, Penguin ,New York et al,1978.
Robert E , LIMITED WAR,
Griffith Samuel F,trans,
MAO TSE TUNG ON GUERRILLA WARFARE, Holt,
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10.POWER AND INTERDEPENDENCE,Keohane Robert and Nye Joseph S, Little Brown & Co , Boston & Toranto, 1977.
11.PACIFIC AFFAIRS VOL XV MARCH 1942, Kate Michell.‘India‘s economic potential“.
12.ECONOMIC TIMES 7 FEB 1988,p.8,‘
13.STUDY OF WAR, Wright
14.ARMS AND INFLUENCE, Schilling Thomas S,
15.POPULATION , POLITICS AND FUTURE OF SOUTHERN ASIA, Burki Javed et al [ed], Columbia University Press , New York , i983.
16. Extensive use has been made of research done in the Ministry of Defence , War Studies Division, where the Dr. (Colonel ) Anil Athale served as a Joint Director from 1986-1990.
17. MILITARY POLICY AND
18. THE BALANCE OF
TERROR, Edgar Bottome,Beacon
19. THE BOMB:A NUCLEAR HISTORY, Corinne Brown and Robert Munroe, Sterling
ABOUT THE AUTHORS.
Lt. Gen. E. A Vas. A
former Eastern Army Commander and an author of several books on security and
related issues. Prominent works include a trilogy on violence in
society, book on
Maj. Gen. K.S. Pendse , former Director financial planning Army Headquarters is a thinker on socio economic issues and a frequent contributor to professional journals. He is member of executive committee.
Dr. (Colonel) A. A. Athale worked on official history of Sino Indian
war, Mizo insurgency and
was a result of work carried out at Indian Initiative for Peace,
Arms control and Disarmament (INPAD). The authors are founder members of this
organisation that is affiliated to Bhartiya Vidya Bahavan , Pune 411016 (