The Introduction lays the groundwork for the rest of the book by introducing the need for a theory of nuclear crisis behavior centered on third-party mediation. Specifically, how does the presence of the unipole and stronger third parties alter the crisis behavior of regional nuclear powers situated within a unipolar world? And what implications does this have for crisis management, stability, and outcomes? The chapter introduces the puzzle and explains the book's empirical focus on South Asia by highlighting that India and Pakistan are the only regional nuclear powers to have experienced major crises since the end of the Cold War. The chapter also summarizes the key findings from the three case studies, the 1999 Kargil conflict, the 2001–2002 military standoff, and the 2008 Mumbai crisis, and confirms evidence in line with the proposed theory of brokered bargaining.
This chapter surveys the literature on nuclear crises. It begins by summarizing the Cold War treatment of these episodes, highlighting the centrality of bilateral deterrence and models such as "brinkmanship" in creating expectations for nuclear crisis behavior. Even though third-party actors remained important as superpower allies during the Cold War, literature during this period suffered from a two-actor bias flowing from the global hegemony of the superpowers. Post–Cold War literature tends to account for regional nuclearization and unipolarity but in summarizing this body of work, the chapter identifies that there is still insufficient knowledge of the various factors at play in regional nuclear crises.
This chapter introduces brokered bargaining as a three-actor model that explains patterns of state behavior in regional crises in a unipolar global setting. The chapter presents ten propositions that are posited to collectively shape crisis behavior of the United States and other strong states acting as third-party mediators and of regional rivals. Crisis behavior of regional rivals ought to be marked by a constant tension between their incentives to pursue their maximalist objectives and their compulsion not to defy the third party completely given its power to tilt the crisis decisively against them. The third party would seek to heighten the antagonists' sensitivity to its preference for de-escalation ahead of their ideal crisis outcomes. Brokered bargaining unpacks the processes and mechanisms that underpin this trilateral interaction. The last part of the chapter presents the methodology applied to the case studies in the next section of the book.
This chapter examines the 1999 Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan, and establishes that what may otherwise be construed as a classic limited war where major conflict was avoided due to nuclear deterrence was in reality a display of brokered bargaining. This entailed the United States and other major powers ignoring Pakistan's effort to manipulate the risk of war and its pleas for support to help terminate the crisis while it was in possession of forcibly occupied territory in Indian Kashmir. They deemed Pakistan's unilateral withdrawal to be the most realistic and efficient way of ensuring crisis termination. India reacted militarily to Pakistan's provocation but kept its actions limited to retain international goodwill and get the third party to make efforts to ensure Pakistan's withdrawal. The chapter also analyzes the several risks of escalation introduced due to India's and Pakistan's misperceptions of the third party's outlook toward the crisis.
This chapter examines the 2001–2002 military standoff that kept India and Pakistan on the verge of war for ten months. Brokered bargaining characterized crisis behavior of the rivals and the U.S.-led third party. India threatened to use military force but pulled back at critical junctures as the United States acted as a guarantor of Pakistan's promises of curbing cross-border terrorism and raised India's costs of defying third-party demands to de-escalate. Pakistan promised retaliation against India and harmed the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan by withdrawing forces from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, but this "autonomous" behavior was trumped by its propensity to oblige the United States by accepting some responsibility for anti-India terrorism and acting tangibly against militants. The chapter also analyzes the several risks of escalation introduced by India's and Pakistan's misperceptions of the third party's leverage over the opponent.
This chapter examines the 2008 Mumbai crisis and shows that brokered bargaining characterized crisis behavior of the rivals and the U.S.-led third party. In a situation that could have boiled over given the spectacular nature of the terrorist attacks that triggered the crisis, India, Pakistan, and the United States exhibited an even greater sense of familiarity with the opportunities and limitations associated with the trilateral bargaining framework. Despite threatening military action at times, India relied almost exclusively on the United States to pursue its crisis objectives. Without boxing it in completely, the United States pressured Pakistan and forced it to take actions against terrorists believed to be linked to the attacks, and used this to pacify India. The centrality of the third-party strand of crisis management helps explain the prudence both sides exhibited in avoiding brinkmanship.
Drawing on the case studies, this chapter examines the applicability of brokered bargaining in South Asia's first decade of overt nuclearization and its implications for crisis stability. In each crisis, the concern about escalation forced the United States and other strong states to engage, largely unsolicited, and use a mix of rewards and threats with the regional rivals to achieve de-escalation. Both India and Pakistan eagerly engaged the third-party and oscillated between manipulating the risk of war and deferring to its preferences to gain its support. The process encompassing this dynamic interaction explained both the specific choices and the overall crisis behavior of the three actors. Escalation risks due to the "moral hazard problem," the "multiple-audience problem," and the peacetime policy choices of the antagonists and the United States were present.
This chapter addresses the general applicability of brokered bargaining beyond South Asia, focusing on four prototypes of rivalries: between countries that are considered friends of the unipole (futuristic crisis scenarios involving Israel versus a nuclear Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or Egypt); between a friend and foe of the unipole (Israel versus a nuclear Iran); between a foe of the unipole and an ally with formally extended deterrence guarantees (Korean peninsula); and between a friend and a presumptive great power rival of the unipole (India versus China). The discussion establishes the similarities and differences of these prototypes with the South Asian cases. While each presents a somewhat distinct set of challenges for third-party actors, the fundamental crisis dynamic whereby the third party works to secure de-escalation without seeking to alienate either conflicting party completely and the antagonists feel compelled not to defy it outright remains valid in each case.
This chapter reflects on the theoretical and practical implications of the book. It highlights the work's contribution to the otherwise undertheorized role of third parties in preventing war, its fresh perspectives on the optimism-pessimism debate on nuclear deterrence, and its attention to scholarship on nonnuclear subjects, primarily mediation, unipolarity theory, and sociological literature on "evaluation" by external audiences. The discussion highlights policy recommendations for decision makers in the United States, other third-party states, India, Pakistan, and other potential regional nuclear rivals. It stresses the need for a holistic U.S. policy approach to crises between regional nuclear powers.