Defence Diplomacy

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Preventive Diplomacy,
Defence Cooperation
& the Pursuit of
Cooperative Security:
The Indian Experience

Swapna Kona Nayudu*

This article is an exploration of the effectiveness of defence cooperation as a means of preventive diplomacy. The paper begins by suggesting that both defence cooperation and preventive diplomacy are concepts rooted in cooperative security. For the purposes of this paper, cooperative security is understood as an overarching concept that comprises alliances, collective security and preventive action. The fundamental claim of the article is that defence cooperation has more to offer than its own immediate benefits. The paper discusses how that value can be exploited towards a larger project of preventive diplomacy. As an illustration of these possibilities, the Indian experience of defence cooperation in the context of South Asia is also discussed.

In 1995, Joseph Nye argued that the present era
was one of dramatic power transitions. He said
that the nature of power and the ways in which
power is exercised play important roles in causing
o r preventing conflicts. 1 H e also said that the
nature of power transitions makes military conflict
between the great powers highly unlikely. Nye’s
thesis pivoted around the US, Europe and Japan,
citing them as examples of democratic powers with
shared values and interlocking institutions. He was
less optimistic about other parts of the world.
Understanding Preventive Diplomacy

He also said that

the nature of power
transitions makes
military conflict
between the great
powers highly
unlikely.

In the post Cold War-era, Russia and China posed serious challenges to regimefriendly diplomacy. Although efforts at engaging these states had seen some limited successes, inter-state, territorial and border conflicts in these regions seemed intractable. The situation was not very different on the Indian subcontinent. The importance given to the arms build-up in the region owed itself not only to bilateral disputes, as in the case of India and Pakistan, but also to the opposing strategic patterns of external powers and major players in the region such as the US and China. Such situations of security deficit required an effective toolkit, both for the prevention of future conflict, as well as for the management and resolution of pre-existing conflict.

*Swapna Kona Nayudu is a Research Associate at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), New Delhi.

Vol 5. No 1. January 2011

87

Swapna Kona Nayudu

Water sharing,

border patrolling,
migration and
trade became areas
of contention.
Increasingly, a state’s
progress depended
more on the
prevention of conflict
than ever before.

The practice of diplomacy in this era was required
to adapt and innovate more than ever before. In the
post-World War, post-Cold War, post-post-Cold War
times, diplomacy was not meant to learn its lessons
from military battlefields. Instead, it was conflict in
more exacting circumstances that would define the
function of diplomacy in the twenty-first century.
Water sharing, border patrolling, migration and
trade became areas of contention. Increasingly, a
state’s progress depended more on the prevention
of conflict than ever before.

Thus far, states had built alliances with other states
and militaries had joined forces against common
threats. In the 20th century, cooperation amongst
states had been predicated on the use of force. Ironically, this led to security dilemmas in most parts of the world. The actions or inactions of states had led other states to fear them. The unpredictability of a nation’s behaviour was being seen as a threat in itself. History had laid bare the hegemonic intentions of bigger powers, causing panic amongst smaller and middle powers.

While the Kantian concept of peace through a group of like-minded nations had resulted in the League of Nations and later the United Nations, which continues to remain...
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