India as a Nuclear-Capable Rising Power in a Multipolar and Non-Polar World

Michael Kraig is Director of Policy Analysis and Dialogue at the Stanley Foundation in Muscatine, Iowa.
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  • May 2009

    The two global trends of multipolarity (rising powers) and non-polarity (failing states) are strongly present in the South Asian geopolitical context. India's competitive-cooperative relationship with China is clearly part of the multipolar trend of rising powers throughout the world, while India's long, antagonistic history with Pakistan is increasingly witness to a weakening and radicalized Pakistani state. In this mixed strategic environment, Indian nuclear weapons are neither a global bane nor a coercive form of power for compelling a lopsided agreement with Pakistan on Kashmir. Indeed, the greatest indirect challenge to South Asian stability is not Indian nuclear capabilities, but rather US grand strategy, which helps fuel centrifugal forces in Pakistan while potentially increasing the bellicosity of other powers such as Russia and China, with potentially negative long-term effects on the currently minimalist Indian nuclear policy.