ABSTRACT: Why does success in combat sometimes fail to produce a stable and durable peace settlement? In the 1965 war, India successfully repelled a Pakistani invasion of the disputed territory of Kashmir, captured new territory, and launched a massive counter-offensive – but it did not improve the long-term security of Kashmir or deter future Pakistani aggression. This presentation offers an explanation that shows how war can help to establish deterrence between enduring rivals. I argue combat success is important, but must be paired with costly signals of resolve. In 1965, India achieved combat success but failed to deliver such signals of resolve: it did not permanently retain the Kashmiri territory it captured, and it deliberately limited the strategic threat posed by its counter-offensive. As a result, India defended against invasion without establishing post-war deterrence. India’s current military strategy continues to favor ineffective and potentially destabilizing concepts of deterrence. This carries implications not only for regional security, but also U.S. strategy, which increasingly depends on India to maintain a favorable and stable regional balance of power.
PROFILE: Arzan Tarapore is a nonresident fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research, an adjunct defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, and from Fall 2019, an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University. His research lies at the intersection of South Asian politics and military strategy. His current book project explains the concept of strategic effectiveness, drawing on in-depth historical case studies of India’s war-fighting experience since 1965. Prior to his scholarly career, Arzan served for 13 years in the Australian Defence Department, which included operational deployments and a diplomatic posting to Washington, DC. He holds a PhD in war studies from King’s College London.