Oh!!.. so its all completely safe to do as long as we can communicate properly..!!
Not exactly. As I said earlier - once you have stable deterrence - then the excursions - the escalation games begin. The key to victory in these games is that our side should achieve escalation dominance. The way to achieve dominance is to completely understand the escalation ladder and then jump to a point where the enemy cannot possibly follow you - this forces the enemy to accept a very public loss of face.
If you are not a complete idiot - the only way that you completely mess that up - is if there is a sudden change in the escalation landscape. This occurs when there is sudden proliferation.
Aha- so proliferation is the real devil!!.. what is this sudden proliferation?
Yes - in some ways it is the only devil. Most nations would not be able to sustain any form of escalation without some kind of proliferation.
Some amount of proliferation - i.e. spread/growth of technology is natural given that nations will pursue scientific and technological development and that will generate new weapons. These weapons in turn will create an impetus towards leaving stable deterrence. But most weapons development cycles are in the decades - and the enemy can see it coming - despite all the secrecy.
The real trouble however comes from nations that short-circuit weapons development cycles by clandestine technology transfers from more powerful allies. This makes it completely impossible for their opponents to determine the exact steps in the ladder of escalation. This is the main problem between India and Pakistan.
This is the core of the China-Pak nexus and the Pakistani nuclear smuggling network. These two things have routinely altered the escalation landscape between India and Pakistan and that has created a sense of confidence in Pakistan to attempt all sorts of escalatory measures. Proliferation is not uniquely an Indian problem. All P5 states will eventually have to take into account the proliferation when they think of the world.
It is said that WWI & WWII were caused due to the large number of secret alliances between nations in Europe. A parallel in the modern world is that secret proliferation agreements will someday create an unmanageable global escalation sequence as the landscape will have rapidly and significantly altered by nations seeking to pursue limited national aims.
Our visitors from the PRC may please take note of that last point.
Ali - IMHO - it is "proliferation" (as opposed to deterrence) that saves Pakistan's posterior each time around it does something phenomenally stupid with India.
How does one stop proliferation?
You can't - atleast not all of it.
There are technology development limiting treaties that are largely ineffective eg. CTBT, NPT, PTBT. There are technology transfer limiting treaties and agreements eg. MTCR, these are often observed more in breach.
You can attempt to set up and then keep a close eye on the blackmarket - by keeping a tab on major operators but that puts enormous strain on your ability to maintain surveillance and there will always be gaps in intelligence gathering. There are also counterproliferation initiatives that you can undertake. These too are limited by the scope of your intelligence gathering abilities. Quite possibly the stupidest thing you can do is have people making money off the blackmarket. (BTW... now you can take a guess at why AQK wasn't caught). It becomes very hard to keep track of proliferation if there is an unaudited sector to the economy - eg. the drug trade in Pakistan.
Lastly you can deliberately undertake periodic escalations to forcibly determine the status of your enemy's arsenal. Again - this is a favorite of our Pak and Chinese buddies. What amazes me is that they actually believe that they are being subtle about this. This incidently is what I feel the Babur test was about from the PRC view.
to be continued.
I will respond to your query in a separate thread. please give me a week to finish this thread and then if I forget just start a separate thread titled -
The Narcotics Trade: Problems and Prospects.