Power Politics; Not Values

Power Politics; Not Values

Narendra Modi has said that dialogue is the only way to cut through deep-rooted religious stereotypes and prejudices that divide communities across the world and sow seeds of conflict between nations and societies. According to Modi, “As the inter-connected and inter-dependent world of 21st century battles a number of global challenges, from terrorism to climate change, I am confident that the solutions will be found through Asia’s oldest traditions of dialogue and debate”. While it’s not clear what audience Modi has in mind, but it would appear that he is targeting multiple audiences. The immediate ones that come to mind are China, the international community and perhaps even Pakistan. Consider China and the international community first. India and China are in the midst of a stand -off over Doklam. Bellicose rhetoric and media attention over this issue has been quite belligerent, so much so that it may have had the international community worried over a potential conflagration between the two countries. So what Modi appears to be doing is reassuring the international community , on the one hand, and hinting at some kind of a rapprochement between China and India, under the broad rubric of “Asian values” . The broad inference that can be made from this is that India does not want war with China. In fact, from a prosaic perspective of military and hard power differentials between China and India, India cannot go to war against China. This means that, in the world of international relations and politics, power is the ultima ratio. Power and power differentials determine the pecking order of nations , their strength, and ability to negotiate and even go to war. This has a searing resonance in the relational dynamic between India and Pakistan, especially over the conflict in and over Kashmir. Pakistan’s conventional military strength, relatively weaker than India is cancelled out by Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. There then is a rough parity and symmetry between India and Pakistan. This symmetry, in turn, leads to a stalemate over Kashmir and a “cold peace” between the two countries. Kashmir gets subsumed into this stalemate and there is no progress or even movement in terms of conflict resolution. In the process, hapless Kashmiris suffer. It would appear that , in the world of states, it is power, that determined the trajectory and evolution of conflicts. If Modi were indeed sincere, then this reference to ‘ Asian values’ should have found an echo and resonance in Kashmir. But this does not appear to be the case.

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