Book Review: Moeed Yusuf, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia

Published date01 January 2020
Date01 January 2020
AuthorP. Sahadevan
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Moeed Yusuf, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis
Management in South Asia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,
2018), xii+304 pp. US$30, ISBN 978-1-5036-0485-8 (Hardback).
The book under review provides a profound analysis of three major India–Pakistan
crises in the last three decades and theorizes the United States’ successful third
party role in terminating them. Drawing from crisis behaviour of two nuclear-
armed rivals in South Asia and US crisis management strategies, the author devel-
ops an interesting theory of ‘brokered bargaining’ that explains the whole
processes and mechanisms underpinning the trilateral interaction aimed at pre-
venting war and creating negative peace. Calling it a theory of process, the
author’s ‘three-way bargaining framework’ shows how the regional rivals and a
third party intermediary ‘seek to influence each other to behave in line with their
crisis objectives and in doing so affect each other’s crisis choices’ (p. 3). It is, in
essence, a theory that underscores the crisis outcomes as much as the process
leading to them.
Three crises used as empirical cases for developing the theory of brokered
bargaining are the 75 daylong limited India–Pakistan war in Kargil (1999), a year-
long (2001–2002) standoff between the two militaries and a month-long bilateral
tension following the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. Of these, the
Kargil crisis saw India’s direct military action against about 1,000 Pakistani para-
military intruders whom Islamabad tried to portray as Kashmiri mujahedeen. As the
crisis escalated in the wake of India’s intense military operations, Pakistan’s civilian
leadership chose to issue a deterrent threat of using nuclear weapon if India
crossed the Line of Control (LoC). Unlike the Kargil crisis, the 2001–2002 military
standoff following the terror attack on the Indian parliament on 13 December
2001 did not escalate into full-scale armed hostilities, but the looming threat of
war became serious to cause national and global concerns. Compared to both
these crises, the Mumbai terror attacks did not apparently develop into a crisis but
caused tension in India–Pakistan relations. As the author rightly notes, while
‘there was genuine fear of escalation at the outset’, India exercised ‘restraint’.
‘Neither side mobilized its armed forces extensively, nor were there any skir-
mishes. Nuclear rhetoric and posturing were all but non-existent. Tension faded
gradually as both sides launched investigations into the attacks and Pakistan took
some actions against the perpetrators’ (pp. 121–2). Considering these facts, one
could ask how plausible it is to include the Mumbai terror attacks in the list of
crises. In our conceptual understanding, mere tension cannot qualify to be a crisis
International Studies
57(1) 79–85, 2020
2020 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0020881719885527

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