Friday, April 19, 2013

A review of my book, Clashing Titans, in Tribune... written by Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal....

Here's a review of my latest book, Clashing Titans: Military Strategy and Insecurity Among Asian Great Powers, written by Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal and published in Tribune, last Sunday, April 14, 2013.

The political, economic and military interplay between the major Asian powers, including China, India, Japan, Russia and the US, will define the emerging contours of the geo-strategic landscape. In this context, Rajeswari Rajagopalan's meticulously researched book is timely. It provides a uniquely Indian perspective on a subject of immense significance.

It takes stock of the military modernisation programmes of major Asian powers, attempts to understand their military strategies, provides an analysis of the mutual suspicions and insecurities being generated by the emerging military postures and theorises how these military powers as well as India might interact in future. Individual chapters look into the current threats and challenges confronting the major Asian powers, the military strategies adopted by them, the modernisation efforts underway to respond to emerging threats and the likely effectiveness of the planned responses.



PRESIDENT OBAMA announced in October 2011, that the United States will rebalance its global strategy and “pivot to Asia”. Soon after that, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta indicated that the bulk of the US Navy will redeploy from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. These moves are widely seen to be designed to counter China's growing power and influence as well as marked assertiveness in its maritime neighbourhood. In response to China's rise and uncharacteristic belligerence, its neighbours have begun to upgrade their military capabilities and simultaneously reinforce their relations.

The political, economic and military interplay between the major Asian powers, including China, India, Japan, Russia and the US, will define the emerging contours of the geo-strategic landscape. In this context, Rajeswari Rajagopalan's meticulously researched book is timely. It provides a uniquely Indian perspective on a subject of immense significance.

It takes stock of the military modernisation programmes of major Asian powers, attempts to understand their military strategies, provides an analysis of the mutual suspicions and insecurities being generated by the emerging military postures and theorises how these military powers as well as India might interact in future. Individual chapters look into the current threats and challenges confronting the major Asian powers, the military strategies adopted by them, the modernisation efforts underway to respond to emerging threats and the likely effectiveness of the planned responses.

The author notes that the US has contributed positively to peace and stability in Asia through power projection, the forward presence of its armed forces and unwavering military alliances, primarily with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. However, America's capacity to maintain its regional pre-eminence is gradually starting to erode, even as China's military capabilities are growing rapidly stronger. The author correctly notes that China's anti-access and area denial strategies —particularly the threat posed to carrier battle groups by the deployment of the DF-21D ASBM (anti-ship ballistic missile) in large numbers — are rapidly undermining US responsiveness.

While analysing how China's military modernisation and evolving strategies affect Indian security, the author states that India's standing within South Asia has been adversely impacted, that China might make new territorial claims. The emergence of a possible G-2 (China-US) scenario in international security will have a negative impact and that a growing Russia-China partnership will have “tactical and strategic implications for India.” While the attempt at G-2 cooperation in Asia was an early blunder in President Obama's first administration, the others are low- probability and low-impact scenarios.

The core truth facing India is that a militarily powerful China, which is also an economic powerhouse, continues to remain its foremost military threat as long as the unresolved territorial and boundary dispute between the two countries is not resolved satisfactorily. India must upgrade its military strategy from dissuasion to deterrence and speed up its own military modernisation if a disaster like that of 1962 is to be avoided in the eventuality that there is another border conflict between the two countries

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