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Security Dilemmas in Asia


  • Sukanta Acharya

    (Sukanta Acharya is Head, Department of Political Science, Asutosh College, Calcutta University, Kolkata. E-mail:


A chain of asymmetrical security dilemmas exists in Asia, in which rivalries between pairs of weaker and stronger states are driving security conflicts. Pakistan views India as its primary threat; India is focused on China; China's principal security concern is the United States; and the United States worries about any potential challengers. States confronting stronger rivals often feel the need to improve their military capabilities, even if this threatens their weaker neighbours. The asymmetrical relationships in Asia not only complicate global arms control and non-proliferation efforts, but also have the potential to fuel ballistic missile and nuclear weapons proliferation throughout the region. A key question is whether China, India and Pakistan will remain satisfied with relatively small strategic forces, or whether they will seek to develop large, operationally deployed forces. It is perhaps true that the United States has an increasingly determining role in fixing proliferation linkages among these states. Three sets of potential proliferation linkages (based on security, prestige and domestic coalitions) can influence decisions about the force structure. Further, there are many factors which may act as potential drivers for nuclear build-ups. A key question remains whether CBMs like transparency might dampen the linkages between the overlapping security dilemmas in Asia.

Suggested Citation

  • Sukanta Acharya, 2007. "Security Dilemmas in Asia," International Studies, , vol. 44(1), pages 57-72, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:intstu:v:44:y:2007:i:1:p:57-72

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